With the 2017 football season in the rear-view mirror, the focus right now for Miami Hurricanes Football is entirely on one thing:
With 19 players already signed, and 10 (soon to be 11) of those signees enrolled and on campus in Coral Gables already, Miami is recruiting from a position of strength. The Canes can not only focus on closing out the 2018 recruiting class, but the staff has also worked ahead, securing several commitments from the 2019 and 2020 classes, as well.
Spinning the focus back to the current 2018 recruiting class, there is a lot to like, but also much to still be desired for Miami.
Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Mark Richt is on record saying Miami is looking to take 24-27 players in the 2018 recruiting class. This fits with what we’ve written here, and has been reported by multiple outlets through this cycle. With 19 players having signed, that leaves 5-8 spots open in this class for the Canes.
Still feeling the effects of the NCAA sanctions from the Nevin Shapiro case, Miami took a big class (24) last year, can take a big class this year (24-27), and will still have room to take another large class (in the 25 range) next year a well. So, don’t expect a big class now to mean a small class later. Miami is restocking the talent and depth on the roster, a process which is only done with big numbers in recruiting.
Here’s a quick look at where each position stands with mere weeks until National Signing Day:
Quarterback (4) Miami got an All-American QB in this class (Jarren Williams) and he’s already signed and enrolled. This group was larger, but Evan Shirreffs is transferring elsewhere in search of playing time (which he wouldn’t ever get here at Miami). Most CFB teams want to carry 4 QBs, so even with the attrition at this position, Miami is in perfect shape here.
Skill Positions (21) - Running Back (7), Wide Receiver (10), Tight End (4). Offensive Skill is where Miami’s roster is most loaded. With 3 incoming players at RB and FB, 3 WRs, and 2 TEs, the Canes have done a great job reloading at every position. Of those 8 incoming skill players, 4 are early enrollees: 5-star RB Lorenzo Lingard, 4-star WRs Mark Pope and Brian Hightower, and 3-star WR Dee Wiggins. Miami is in a great place at the skill positions, but don’t look to be done here just yet.
Stockbridge (GA) WR Marquez Ezzard is being heavily pursued for the WR4 spot in this class, and would bring a level of physicality and muscular size that no other WR on the roster currently has. It’s basically Ezzard or bust for the last WR spot in this class, and that’s fine by me. There may be some attrition in this position group, and if so, that will only give the more-talented youngsters on the roster a chance to play more. Win-win for Miami.
Offensive Line (14). This is a spot where Miami has done well, but not perfectly, in recruiting. The Canes have brought in 3 quality linemen in this class - Tackle John Campbell, Guard/Tackle Delone Scaife, and Guard Cleveland Reed. The latter 2 were both All-Americans, and Campbell has a good combination of size and skill. Ideally, there would have been a 4th OL in this class, another pure tackle prospect, but it seems that won’t be the case. OT target Jalen Goss committed to Florida State, and 5-star recruit Nicholas Petit-Frere seems to have no interest in the Canes. After Goss’ commitment to FSU, Miami will likely stand pat with 3 OL in this class, and not reach for a 4th body. So, this is where we are. With the HUGE NEED for Tackles, and good ones, still remaining, expect Miami to push hard for several top tier players at this position next cycle.
Defensive Line (9 and a possible). Yeah, there’s work to be done here. After losing both Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh to the draft, and little-used Ryan Fines (a player who was only taken due to a need for numbers at the position 2 years ago), Miami’s DL is the thinnest position on the team. Miami has signed 6’6” DE Gregory Rousseau, but he needs to add weight, and learn technique after playing many positions, mostly S and LB, in HS. The “possible” is DT Nesta Silvera, a Canes commit who has not signed. He seems to be all-in with Miami though, and that’s a good thing to hear. Silvera was dominant at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and there’s TONS of PT to be had at DT.
With each passing day, Miami’s DL board seems to be expanding. The Canes have a good shot with DT Dennis Briggs, DT Jamarcus Chatman, and DE Andrew Chatfield. The Canes hosted DE Daniel Carson — a player in the RJ McIntosh mold who Miami would hope to move to DT — on an official visit in December, and have a shot with him, but things seem to be trending elsewhere. Miami has also been in communication with Texas DT commit Keondre Coburn, and he will visit Coral Gables this upcoming weekend, per a 247sports report. JUCO DE Dorian Gerald is yet another player that Miami is recruiting, and hope to get him on campus for an Official Visit in the coming weeks. Miami has also been in contact with 16 year old (not a typo) DT Moro Ojomo from Texas and All-American DT Michael Thompson from Missouri, but neither has a visit scheduled at this time. Miami, along with everybody in America, has recently offered DE Malik Langham, a huge (6’6” 275lbs) and fast rising player. BUT, he’s a priority target from his home-state school, Alabama, so don’t expect anything to happen here for Miami.
In a perfect world, Miami gets Silvera — who I remind you is committed to the Canes — to sign, and adds Briggs, Chatman, Chatfield (who is Silvera’s HS teammate, btw) and (insert other). Even just those 4 (minus the “extra” spot) would be workable. There’s a need for both numbers AND talent at this position group, and it’s the only group with multiple remaining spots and targets. This is the position to pay the most attention to over the next 3 weeks, as there’s so much uncertainty at the current juncture.
Linebacker (10). Miami has 1 signee at LB — Patrick Joyner — and they may stick with only him in this class. With 9 other players returning to the roster, including the starting trio of Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud, Miami isn’t pressed to take another LB in this class. Compound that with a very strong 2019 LB group to recruit from, and Miami may not move on another LB.
On the other hand, there has been attrition of 2 players from this position group — Darrion Owens will grad transfer and Jamie Gordinier retired due to multiple reconstructive knee surgeries — and some are not as high on the 2017 signees (Waynmon Steed, Bradley Jennings Jr. and De’Andre Wilder) as players. The Canes have been connected to 4-star LB Xavier Peters, a Kentucky commit from Ohio, and he’s now slated to take an official visit to Miami before National Signing Day. There is a concern, however, that Peters may not have the grades to get in to The U (and he doesn’t even have an offer yet). Even with that being the case, Miami has signed 1 “academic concerns” player in each of the last 4 signing classes (Tyre Brady and Trayone Gray in 2014, Robert Knowles in 2015, Dionte Mullins in 2016, and Jeff Thomas in 2017), so “grade issues” are not necessarily a death knell for Miami’s pursuit of Peters.
Yet and still, it seems a longshot that Peters, or any other player at this position, will end up in this class. But, stranger things have happened so #StayTuned.
Defensive Back (14). Miami needed a big DB class due to most starters in 2018 being seniors, and an INCREDIBLE amount of talent at that position group locally in this recruiting class. Miami has done a great job in this area, with 4 signees already in the boat: CBs Al Blades Jr, Gilbert Frierson and DJ Ivey, along with S Gurvan Hall. But, the work isn’t done.
Miami lost DB Josh Jobe to Alabama (that move was in the works for a LONG TIME) at the early signing period, and the Canes have been in pursuit of other players at this position even with Jobe committed. So, there’s still targets on the board at DB.
Miami is in a battle for 5-star CB Tyson Campbell, with Georgia (thought by some to be the leaders currently) and Alabama also in hot pursuit. Along with Campbell, Miami has been in constant contact with longtime LSU-lean 5-star CB Patrick Surtain Jr, who is a HS teammate of Campbell and Miami commit DT Nesta Silvera and DE target Andrew Chatfield at Ft. Lauderdale (FL) American Heritage. Miami has gotten both Campbell and Surtain Jr. on campus for unofficial visits in the past, but still has plenty of work to do with both players. There are rumors that each player could take an official visit to Miami, but nothing is set in stone yet.
Apart from the 5-star CB duo listed above, Miami has contacted Miami (FL) Northwestern ATH Nigel Bethel. He is a clear backup plan to studs like Campbell and Surtain Jr., but some in the recruiting world like Bethel’s speed and playmaking ability in the return game. Bethel played WR exclusively in HS this year, with his team having 2 FBS recruits at CB in front of him. Having watched him play multiple times, I’m not personally a fan of Bethel at all, but I’ve been wrong before. My hope is that Miami gets one or both of Campbell and Surtain Jr. and therefore won’t continue to contact Bethel. But that’s just me.
Special Teams (2). Punter Zach Feagles returns. Kicker Michael Badgley graduates. Miami has National #2 kicker Bubba Baxa signed. There won’t be any further specialists on scholarship in this class, but long snapper Clay James will be a priority walk-on for the Canes. And that’s that.
Miami is in a great spot right now. They can focus on closing out the 2018 class with quality players, and also work ahead to 2019 and 2020. Miami has the 6th best class in 2018 so far, while the classes of 2019 and 2020 currently rank 5th and 1st nationally, so that’s pretty awesome.
With Miami so far under the scholarship cap (Mark Richt said Miami was at 71 scholarship players, and that was before several instances of attrition to transfers or the NFL), there’s plenty of room in this class, the next class, and the class after that for large numbers. Now, it’s just up to the staff to close on the targets available to get the roster back to where it should be.
Thoughts? Feelings? Concerns? (other than DT, everybody knows there’s work to be done there) Questions? Hop in the comments and speak your peace.