Welcome to the third edition of the column I like to call “The Freshman 15”. If you missed the inaugural issue in April, or the latest edition in May, this will be a focus on the rankings and the order of the top 15 uncommitted recruits the coaching staff is pursuing. At this time, players committed to other programs or players without offers will not be considered for the board. How do we rank the players, you ask?
Well, the order will be based mainly on:
- How likely a recruit is to commit to Miami at the time
- Skill level
- Miami's need at their position
This column will be updated throughout the cycle each month and will show movement up or down for each recruit as the list is updated, ie. who is starting to become more/less important and prioritized by the staff.
While Miami did not receive a commitment from anyone on the board last month, they did shore up their future kicking situation by securing top kicking prospect Bubba Baxa. On the board, Al Blades Jr. again holds onto the top spot for the third straight month, but a couple of 5-stars make big moves and a few decommits from other programs make their first appearance.
Let’s get into the board for the month of June.
1. Al Blades Jr. , CB, Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas Aquinas) (Last Month: 1)
Ht 6-0 | Wt 170 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #74 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Blades Jr. retains the top spot on this board for the third straight month because of his combination of talent, Miami’s need at corner, and the fact he’s a UM legacy that is a virtual lock for the Canes. He’s pretty much gonna be here until he finally pulls the trigger for UM. He's an athletic specimen, and a very natural corner who makes the most of his abilities. Blades Jr. recently was invited to the Rivals 5-Star Challenge and Nike’s The Opening.
In The Mix: Miami. Miami. Miami. Blades Jr. says Tennessee, Ohio State, and FSU are also recruiting him hard.
Latest: Blades has camped at FSU and wants to take visits elsewhere, but don’t read too much into it. He has been to Coral Gables countless times to see the campus, take in practices, and just hangout with the team. Nothing has changed here: we still fully expect Blades in this class and it’s just a matter of him taking his time going on visits and seeing some sights before announcing it. Son of the late Hurricane legend Al Blades, Blades Jr. recently said he wants to get his decision out of the way before the season and will make a commitment during early summer.
2. William Barnes, OT, Apopka, FL (Apopka) (Last Month: 4)
Ht 6-4 | Wt 290 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #49 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Even though the Canes already have a solid pair on the O-Line committed in Delone Scaife and Cleveland Reed, they are desperate for more talent in the trenches. The O-Line simply must be fixed at all costs and the best way to do it is to load up on studs like Barnes. This need caused Barnes to jump up to #2 on our board; it’s that important. Barnes is an advanced run-blocker and has the frame and athleticism to excel in pass protection with more development. He is also known for being proficient at the mental side of the game. In addition, Barnes has earned an invite to Rivals’ Five-Star Challenge and Nike’s The Opening.
In The Mix: Schools like FSU, UF, Ohio State, UNC, and Auburn join Miami and others on Barnes’ offer list.
Latest: OL coach Stacy Searels has stayed in regular contact with Barnes, but he is still declining to name favorites. Barnes has visited Coral Gables twice, most recently for Junior Day, and loves the family environment of Miami. He will be back on campus sometime this summer. He wants to see all the schools recruiting him and says Miami is among the group recruiting him hardest. Barnes expects his recruitment to go all the way to signing day. Rumor has it that Florida leads, but Miami just needs to stay in the game and position themselves for an official visit in the fall. If they can do that, all bets are off.
3. Tyson Campbell, CB, Fort Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage) (Last Month: 2)
Ht 6-2 | Wt 180 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #29 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Campbell is a corner that plays just down the road at American Heritage, where his former head coach was current Canes CB coach Mike Rumph. He sports outstanding speed and length, along with incredible ball skills. Miami has been loading up on DB’s in this class, but is still making Campbell a priority. Campbell was recently invited to Nike’s The Opening.
In The Mix: Campbell favors Miami, LSU, and Ohio State, while Alabama, Florida, and Georgia are also hot on his trail.
Latest: On one of Campbell’s most recent visits to campus, he took in a Miami basketball game, storming the court with fans after a Hurricane win over Duke in February. He will visit UM again in the summer. Miami hasn’t been messing around with American Heritage and has really been making the effort to turn the school into a pipeline; they’ve sent coaches Rumph, Craig Kuligowski, and Ephraim Banda to Heritage twice in the past month. Certainly having Campbell’s former coach on staff at UM and coaching his position group is a boon for Miami, and current Heritage teammate and UM commit DT Nesta Silvera is also working to get Campbell to join him in the class. He will announce after his senior season and we see a slight lead for Miami at this point, but it’s not a slam dunk; don’t count out LSU or Ohio State.
4. Rick Sandidge, DT, Concord, NC (Concord) (Last Month: 5)
Ht 6-5 | Wt 275 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #108 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Sandidge has a great get-off that, when combined with his amazing power and length, can be overwhelming for any offensive lineman. With the bulk of Miami’s talent at DT being upperclassmen, there is a huge need for a guy like Sandidge in this class. Sandidge was also recently invited to the Rivals’ 5-Star Challenge and Nike’s The Opening. He’s a truly elite defensive lineman that has shown interest in Miami. Sign us up.
In The Mix: LSU, Georgia, Ohio State, UNC, South Carolina, NC State, UF, FSU, Michigan and Virginia Tech join Miami in Sandidge’s top 11.
Latest: Sandidge is a kid who plays things close to the vest. He is hard to get a read on and seems to have cast a wide net, being interested in so many schools. He wants to give all his top schools a shot at him. He’s already visited UNC, South Carolina, UF, FSU, and visited Miami in April. He toured campus with Coach Kool and loved it enough to put Miami in his top 11. He plans for a return trip to Miami via official visit in the fall. It’s still early with Sandidge, but we have a good feeling about him so far.
5. Patrick Surtain Jr., CB, Fort Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage) (Last Month: 15)
Ht 6-2 | Wt 185 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #4 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Miami will shoot it’s shot on the blue-chip corner who is fleet of foot, with quick hips and instincts to match. Like his fellow secondary-mate Tyson Campbell, Surtain Jr. played under Mike Rumph at American Heritage and is also the son of former Miami Dolphins star Pat Surtain, who is now the coach at Heritage.
In The Mix: Every traditional powerhouse school in the nation.
Latest: Previously, we were requiring Surtain Jr. to schedule a visit to campus to feel confident in moving him up the board. Well, Surtain Jr. plans to be in Coral Gables for the Paradise Camp in July and Miami will really have its chance to make a lasting impression. He also said the close proximity of Miami to home and his relationship with coach Rumph would keep the Canes in the game until the end, which is exactly what we wanted to hear. LSU probably still leads but this will be long recruitment and a battle to the finish.
6. John Campbell, OT, Orlando, FL (Dr. Phillips) (Last Month: 7)
Ht 6-5 | Wt 290 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #397 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Campbell’s size, athleticism, punch, and overall ability make him coveted by the Miami staff. At a big position of need, the coaches will be sure to pull out all the stops to obtain his services. Campbell was recently invited to the Rivals’ 5-Star Challenge.
In The Mix: Campbell recently announced his top 10 of Miami, Florida, LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn, Ohio State, UCLA, Ole Miss, and Oregon.
Latest: Campbell is known as a mellow kid and is not one to get overly excited. So it’s a big deal that he raved about his March visit to Coral Gables, saying it was special and had a different feel than any of the other places he’s been. Campbell followed that visit up by stopping by to take in UM’s final spring scrimmage in April. OL coach Stacy Searels is staying on him and recruiting him hard, and visited Dr. Phillips during the spring to evaluate Campbell. Despite the national “who’s who” top 10 list, we see this as an in-state UM-UF battle; he’s visited both campuses frequently and always has good things to say about each program. And you have to love the giant leap in Miami interest after Campbell’s visit to UM’s campus.
7. Elijah Moore, WR, Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas Aquinas) (Last Month: 3)
Ht 5-10 | Wt 160 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #174 Overall
Behind The Ranking: A current teammate of Al Blades Jr., Moore may actually remind you of a former teammate at St. Thomas, current Hurricane and slot dynamo Mike Harley. Shifty in the slot with impressive acceleration after the catch, Moore will reel in anything thrown near him. Moore recently showed out at the Opening Miami Regionals and earned an invitation to the Opening finals, and he’ll be at the Rivals’ 5-Star Challenge as well. As we’re not as sure about his feelings for Miami as we once were (nor the staff’s feelings for him), he gets a bump down the board.
In The Mix: Miami, Florida, and Ohio State seem to interest Moore the most, with Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, and others still involved.
Latest: Like Blades Jr., Moore’s been to UM countless times with other commits and targets. He is good friends with many current players and commits and there is a high likelihood he joins them in Coral Gables, albeit a bit less of a chance than a month ago because he continually delays his decision. Moore had talked up Miami relentlessly and looked to be on the verge of committing to UM. After previously saying he would announce his commitment at the Opening, Moore has backed off that, and now plans to release a top 8 at the event. Miami already has 3 WR commits and may only take one more. Also, the staff seems to prefer bigger, outside receiver types to get the height up at the position on the roster. If he’s not careful, Moore could find himself on the wrong side of a numbers crunch. If Miami’s where he really wants to go, it’d be best for him to commit sooner rather than later.
8. Kevin Austin, WR, Pompano Beach, FL (North Broward Prep) (Last Month: 9)
Ht 6-3 | Wt 185 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #155 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Austin is a big bodied WR that creates mismatches with his physicality and playmaking ability. He can out-muscle any defensive back for a ball, shows strong field vision after the catch, and can make cuts on a dime. With the staff looking for more size at receiver, they have been working extra hard to bring him into the fold. He was recently invited to the Rivals 5-Star Challenge and Nike’s The Opening.
In The Mix: Austin lists Notre Dame, Duke, Miami, and Tennessee as his top 4.
Latest: Austin finally overtakes Warren Thompson as the highest priority outside receiver the coaches are looking at. He took in one of UM’s spring scrimmages in April and bonded with WR coach Ron Dugans a bit. The Canes seemed to make strides on this visit and he even brought his mom along, something that always bodes well in recruiting. Helping Miami even more is Austin’s preference for a school with great academics. Friends Mark Pope and Lorenzo Lingard are trying to bring Austin to UM with them and are always in his ear. Add it all up and Miami is right in the thick of things. According to Austin, he will be announcing before the season.
9. Micah Parsons, DE, Harrisburg, PA (Harrisburg) (Last Month: NR)
Ht 6-3 | Wt 235 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #3 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Parsons is a unique prospect because he possess the size and agility indicative of a top 5 talent nationally. He is extremely explosive and his balance is a strength. Parsons is quick at the snap of the ball, and he changes direction well. He can chase a play down from behind and he uses his length to corral the ball carrier. Quite frankly, the man is a beast. Parsons was recently invited to Nike’s The Opening.
In The Mix: Parsons has narrowed down a top 9 of Miami, UF, FSU, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Georgia, and Nebraska.
Latest: Parsons was a long-time Penn State commit, but backed off that in April to ensure he was really making the best decision. Regardless, the Nittany Lions are still in it and Ohio State is now rumored to lead. Miami has made quite a move with Parsons in the past 2 months, going from not even involved to routinely mentioned in Parsons’ top schools, thanks largely to a grassroots campaign by Miami commits and fans on Twitter. Is the Twitter hype real though? We’ve seen Twitter talk turn into a whole lot of nothing before, but a visit from Parsons to Coral Gables would legitimize the chatter and move him far up this board. Coach Kul himself visited with Parsons in Pennsylvania in May. A big year on the field is almost necessary to bring in a 5-star, elite out of state prospect, and that’s probably what it will take for Miami to even have a shot to land Parsons in the end.
10. Keondre Coburn, DT, Houston, TX (Westfield) (Last Month: 6)
Ht 6-2 | Wt 305 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #93 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Coburn comes from Westfield HS in Texas, a program known for producing bountiful D-I talent. He is explosive with his first step and is powerful at the point of attack, being able to push even the best offensive linemen off balance. He slides a bit on the board in this update, but that’s more due to others moving up.
In The Mix: Coburn made a top 16 (my god) that includes (here we go): Miami, Texas, TCU, Texas A&M, FSU, UF, Penn State, Oregon, UCLA, LSU, Washington, Michigan, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Houston (whew!).
Latest: Coburn’s father is a big Canes fan and Coburn was dying for a Miami offer. He finally got his wish in April and Miami made his top 16 list in May. To be real, this list is pretty much a joke and doesn’t really narrow things down whatsoever, but, at the very least, it shows Coburn is having a hard time eliminating schools and is going to take his time with recruiting. He plans a summer visit to Miami, but, similar to Parsons, until he gets out of town and actually makes it onto campus, the in-state Texas schools are going to be seen as having the advantage.
11. David Reese, LB, Fort Pierce, FL (Vero Beach) (Last Month: NR)
Ht 6-2 | Wt 215 | 247 Composite: 3 Star, #398 Overall
Behind The Ranking: When you watch Reese, the first thing that pops out about him is how quick he is to the ball. He is an outside linebacker you see make plays in space, get to the quarterback off the edge, and, as a former safety, effortlessly drops into coverage and holds his own. He plays with aggression, effort and speed at all times. Miami doesn’t have a linebacker commit so far in their 18 man class and will at least take one, but with Miami’s trio of young starting LB’s being only sophomores, LB is not the biggest need in this class at the moment. Reese was recently invited to Nike’s The Opening and Rivals’ 5-Star Challenge.
In The Mix: Miami, Florida, Florida State, Oregon, Notre Dame, and Tennessee, along with others, make up Reese’s recruiting picture.
Latest: After Amari Gainer pledged to FSU and with Rosendo Louis’ recruitment currently in limbo, Reese is the next target up at linebacker. Manny Diaz has been making him a priority and has been making inroads with Reese; as of now 247’s Crystal Ball has him to Miami. If Miami really does make him their prime target at LB and focuses everything on him, there’s no reason they can’t get him on board. For his part, Reese stays mostly mum on the process, but has been to Miami back in February for Junior Day and enjoyed his time on campus. He doesn’t seem close to a decision as of now, so this could be a long recruitment.
12. Daniel Faalele, OT, Bradenton, FL (IMG Academy) (Last Month: NR)
Ht 6-9 | Wt 390 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #345 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Faalele is an Australian native that is a mountain of a man but is brand new to football, having never even seen a football game until a year ago. As such, you can imagine his offers and recruiting rankings are based mostly on potential and he still has a lot to work on. But you can’t teach a 6’9 390 pound frame with the feet of a tap dancer and, based on the IMG spring game, he’s really made some strides technique-wise. Faalele was recently invited to Nike’s The Opening.
In The Mix: Faalele boasts offers from Miami, Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, and FSU among others despite not even playing in an actual game yet.
Latest: Faalele might be the most intriguing recruit in this cycle. He’s a coach’s dream, basically being a blank slate to mold paired with almost unheard of size and athleticism. Coach Searels wants him bad, and has already visited IMG multiple times to see him and other IMG prospects. 2 of Faalele’s IMG teammates in Artur Sitkowski and Brian Hightower are already committed to UM and will really push to get Faalele to join them in Miami. As of now, Faalele seems to be focusing on acclimating to American life and culture and learning the game instead of recruiting, so don’t expect a top 10 list or a commitment anytime soon.
13. Kayode Oladele, DE, Hialeah, FL (Champagnat Catholic) (Last Month: NR)
Ht 6-4 | Wt 235 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #380 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Oladele plays hard, he is violent, his hands stay active, and he has speed to the ball. He can improve his pad level, and work leverage more, but you always see his hands flying around, you always see him working to get to the ball, and when he gets that window, he closes in a blur. As a Nigerian native that is new to football, Oladele is the type of raw athlete that Coach Kul has had success with many times in the past. Oladele has been racking up offers in spring and his recent decommitment from FSU gets him on this list.
In The Mix: Oladele has focused on Miami, Georgia, Oregon, Baylor and FSU since he opened up his recruitment.
Latest: Oladele decommitted from FSU last month, but he has been high on Miami for some time now. However, FSU is still in the picture. Since Oladele essentially rebooted his recruitment, everything is still new, but he’s been to visit Georgia, Miami, and FSU in the past and those are the schools we expect him to really zero-in on. But he decommitted because he wants to see what’s out there, so don’t be surprised if you see new schools pop up on his list in the near future.
14. Dennis Briggs, DE/DT, Kissimmee, FL (Gateway) (Last Month: NR)
Ht 6-4 | Wt 255 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #489 Overall
Behind The Ranking: Briggs is another talented prospect who has seen his recruiting stock soar as of late. He offers a great motor and his speed and athleticism will likely be amplified when he is inevitably moved inside to tackle.
In The Mix: This has the looks of another in-state, Big Three, battle royale. Miami, Florida, and Florida State lead.
Latest: It’s known that Briggs’ family wants him to stay in-state. It’s also known that Coach Kul wants Briggs bad. Coach Kul has come to Briggs’ school to evaulate him and stays in regular contact with the D-Lineman. Briggs has visited Coral Gables already with his father and got the full court press, with Coach Kul, Manny Diaz, and Mark Richt having a sit-down meeting with the two. He’s planning on releasing a top 10 list in July, but it seems like that will be just for show. Look for Miami to have to fend off their in-state rivals for Briggs.
15. Jamien Sherwood, S, Jensen Beach, FL (Jensen Beach) (Last Month: 13)
Ht 6-2 | Wt 190 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #389 Overall
Behind The Ranking: A gifted prospect in his own right, Sherwood uses his size and physicality to bully receivers across the middle and to make plays in the box. Sherwood recently was invited to the Rivals 5-Star Challenge. He would be higher on the board if not for the sheer amount of talent on Miami’s commitment and target list at DB.
In The Mix: Sherwood is looking hard at Miami, FSU, UF, Nebraska, Auburn, and LSU.
Latest: Sherwood has shown high interest in donning the green and orange for the next 4 years and Miami has been his de-facto leader; his current 247 Crystal Ball predicts him to Miami. But, as more and more time passes, the less likely it seems that Sherwood will be in this class. With 5 DB’s already committed, guys like Blades Jr., Surtain Jr., and Tyson Campbell seem to have first dibs to the final DB spot(s) in Storm18 if they want it. After those guys, it’s anyone’s guess how the coaches will divvy up the last miscellaneous spots in the class. And don’t expect Sherwood to wait around either; a recent LSU offer has changed the game, and Sherwood is talented enough that if the coaches take their foot off the gas at all, Sherwood could be headed elsewhere. For now, Sherwood insists the coaches want him at safety, but depending on what happens with top LB targets Reese and Louis, there may be room for Sherwood at LB if the coaches want him there. Sherwood is looking to make his choice before his senior season.
8. WR Warren Thompson: Didn’t even mention Miami among the 6 schools recruiting him hardest in a recent interview and the staff seems to have moved on to other targets.
10. OG Ed Montilus: His recruiting ranking has taken a bit of a hit after spring evaluations and the increased pursuit of Daniel Faalele/greater need at tackle than guard knocks him off.
11. LB Amari Gainer: Committed to FSU last week.
12. LB Rosendo Louis: Pushing back his decision date and adding more schools to his list was not a good sign for Miami. Also, a lot of other higher ranked players are starting to show mutual interest in UM.
14. S Tyreke Johnson: Just seems like way too much of a longshot. The staff is prioritizing guys that are showing more interest.