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Miami Hurricanes Recruiting Radar: 2018 Freshman 15 - January Edition

Our longest-tenured #1 reclaims his spot this month as the Canes lock-in officials and push to close strong down the home stretch.

Tyson Campbell
247 Sports

Previous editions: April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Welcome to the tenth edition of the column I like to call “The Freshman 15”. If you’re a first time reader, this will be a focus on the rankings and the order of the top 15 uncommitted (to Miami) recruits the coaching staff is pursuing. 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.

After the early signing period knocked some targets off the the board, we’re bringing you a (slightly) truncated Freshman 15 this month. Miami has been confirmed to be in contact with 14 unsigned prospects, and, with transfers and early declarations for the NFL Draft, that number will likely grow in the near future. Off last month’s board, Miami hit a home run and secured #1 prospect QB Jarren Williams. With his signal-caller again in place for this cycle, Mark Richt has turned his focus to the trenches to finish out this class.

Let’s get into the board for the month of January.

1. Tyson Campbell, CB, Fort Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage) (Last Month: 2)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 180 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #27 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. He is participating in the U.S. Army All-American Game.

In The Mix: Campbell lists his top 4 as Miami, Ohio State, Alabama, and Georgia.

Latest: Campbell’s recruitment is beginning to wrap-up and he’s decided to take four official visits after the dead period ends next week. He currently has two scheduled to both CFP finalists; Georgia on 1/12 weekend and Alabama on 1/19 weekend. While not yet set in stone, he is believed to be headed to Miami on 1/26 weekend to visit with the rest of his Heritage teammates. If that happens, Campbell will likely end his visit tour in Columbus in early February. The Canes have been a constant in Campbell’s process the whole way through, but UGA is probably their biggest competition as of now. We’ll know for sure where the talented DB will end up on Signing Day.

2. Andrew Chatfield, DE, Fort Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage) (Last Month: 3)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 220 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #211 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Questions about his size and run-stopping ability are valid, but there’s no doubt Chatfield is an explosive and impactful pass-rusher off the edge. He’s a quick-twitch athlete with elite production over last two seasons at American Heritage. Chatfield shows a variety of subtle pass rushing moves for his age, the type of stutter steps and head fakes that can get offensive tackles off-balance just enough to cause problems. Chatfield also has a devastating spin move in his arsenal. He’s another of Mike Rumph’s former players at Heritage and is the new top target at DE for UM.

In The Mix: Chatfield is giving serious consideration to Miami, Oklahoma, LSU, Ohio State, and UF.

Latest: After finally getting his Miami offer and receiving an in-home visit from Miami coaches in early December, Chatfield has been pretty quiet. The former Ohio State commit has taken only one official visit so far, to Oklahoma, but tentatively plans to be at Miami on 1/26 weekend with the rest of his Heritage teammates. A twist? After a rash of decommitments, Urban Meyer has gotten involved here again, so don’t count the Buckeyes out. Still, it’d be pretty surprising if Chatfield spurned his dream school of Miami for anyone else.

3. Daniel Carson, DT, Independence, MO (William Chrisman) (Last Month: 13)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 270 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #519 Overall

Behind The Ranking: The typical big, strong, midwesterner, corn-fed type of lineman. Carson holds the edge extremely well, and can dominate games at times because he can get off the ball, shed blockers, and motor up-field to make plays.

In The Mix: Miami, Nebraska, and Texas are Carson’s finalists.

Latest: Carson has narrowed his list down to a final three of Miami, Nebraska, and Texas. Distance from home will be a factor for him and could hurt the Canes, but Carson got a head-start in getting comfortable with Miami on his official visit back on 12/8 weekend. The D-Lineman brought his family along to hang out with coach Kool, see the campus, and learn more about what it means to be a Hurricane. By all accounts, the visit went extremely well, and Carson now may be able to see himself spending the next 4 years in Coral Gables. For my money, I believe Carson has become the top priority for Miami at DT heading into the home stretch, and coach Kool would love to pair the athleticism of Carson with the brute strength of Nesta Silvera to finish up the interior recruiting on the D-Line. He’s already officially visited Texas and Nebraska is expected to receive an official in January, but it feels like, as of now, Miami is leading here.

4. Dennis Briggs, DT, Kissimmee, FL (Gateway) (Last Month: 4)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 255 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #322 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Briggs is a talented prospect who has seen his recruiting stock soar as of late and it is still on the rise. He offers a great motor and his speed and athleticism will likely be amplified when he is inevitably moved inside to play tackle in college.

In The Mix: Briggs’ has a top 4 of Miami, FSU, Louisville, and South Carolina.

Latest: Briggs announced in late December that he has narrowed his choices down to a final 4 and that each will get officials in January/February. Mainstays Miami and FSU made the cut for Briggs, but new programs to the party include Louisville and South Carolina and both will look to pull an upset over the in-state schools. The only visit set in stone is FSU on the weekend of 1/26, however, it seems like Miami is going to get their shot to sway Briggs at some point. Briggs previously said there was almost no chance he ends up out of state, so this is expected to be a Miami-FSU battle. Briggs was Miami’s top target at DT nearly the whole way through the cycle, but some weird things have happened here, like a phone miscommunication with Miami coaches and then Briggs saying he would’ve committed to FSU if Jimbo Fisher stayed in Tallahassee. It feels like Miami is going harder after Carson right now and that Briggs would be a luxury if he ended up choosing the Canes.

5. Christian Meadows, OG, Montezuma, GA (Macon County) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 330 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #265 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Meadows is a powerful guard prospect that is strong at the point of attack. He is a bit undersized height-wise, but offsets that using quick hands and proper leverage to defeat his man. Meadows is participating in the Under Armour All-America Game.

In The Mix: The FSU commit is also considering Miami, UCF, and Louisville.

Latest: A new name to the Miami recruiting game, Meadows began to look around when Jimbo Fisher bounced to College Station last month. Stacy Searels came and visited Meadows in-home back in early December and strengthened Meadows’ ties to Miami. While he remains a soft FSU commit, Meadows is going to make sure Tallahassee is really the best place for him; he has visits set to Louisville (1/12), UCF (1/19), Miami (1/26), and FSU (2/2). He says Miami is currently right behind FSU, so Mark Richt and staff will really look to impress on 1/26 and steal away an important piece of Willie Taggart’s first class.

6. Jalen Goss, OT, Valdosta, GA (Lowndes) (Last Month: 10)

Ht 6-6 | Wt 270 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #877 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Goss is a towering tackle that needs to add weight in college, but his raw attributes are what attracts coaches from the next level. He gets in and out of his kick-slide in pass protection with ease, and has the agility to make downfield blocks in the running game. His length and athleticism project well in college with some development.

In The Mix: Goss’ top 5 is Miami, Auburn, Michigan, Tennessee, and UNC.

Latest: Goss has taken 2 officials to Auburn and Michigan, and has scheduled a third to Miami on 1/26. At this point, those three are the real contenders for his signature, but Tennessee and UNC are still holding out hope for a visit. Auburn is probably the leader for Goss, as he’s been there numerous times on unofficial visits, but Miami will have the last shot at him in late January when he hits campus. The Canes are desperate for any offensive tackle-like substance, and if Goss recognizes that need, there’s more than a chance he signs with The U.

7. Patrick Surtain Jr., CB, Fort Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage) (Last Month: 14)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 185 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #5 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 and DE Andrew Chatfield, 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 head coach at Heritage. He is participating in the U.S. Army All-American Game.

In The Mix: LSU, Clemson, Alabama, FSU, Miami, and Ohio State are the top 6 programs for Surtain Jr.

Latest: Oddly enough, Surtain Jr. is the only prospect on this entire list without an official visit currently scheduled anywhere. And honestly, the less official visits than the allowable 5 that Surtain Jr. ends up taking, the better for Miami it will be. He’s already unofficially visited Miami and been around the program multiple times, including taking in an Orange Bowl practice last month, so if he doesn’t end up OV-ing to a school far from home, it’s highly doubtful he signs with them in February. The popular pick has been and continues to be LSU here, and Surtain Jr. does have family in the Baton Rouge area, but the fact that he’s taking so long to decide or even set up visits has to make Tiger fans nervous.

8. Marquez Ezzard, WR, Stockbridge, GA (Stockbridge) (Last Month: 11)

Ht 6-1 | Wt 205 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #331 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Ezzard has great hands and is a powerfully built receiver that can bully defensive backs that try and get physical with him. He’s not the fastest wideout ever, but plays without concern going over the middle and uses his frame to box-out defenders on contested catches. Ezzard is an early-impact type of talent.

In The Mix: The 4 that have Ezzard’s attention as of now are Miami, Ole Miss, Oregon, and South Carolina.

Latest: The Canes have zeroed in on this former FSU commit to fill the 4th slot in their receiver class this cycle and Ezzard has reciprocated that interest: he plans to be on campus at Miami on 1/19 weekend. In addition to his Oregon OV taken back in November, Ezzard has scheduled an Ole Miss visit on 1/26 and will likely take one to South Carolina on either 1/12 or 2/2. It seems to be a solid top 4 for Ezzard and he claims he will choose from that quartet on Signing Day. It feels like anyone’s game here.

9. Michael Thompson, DT, St. Louis, MO (Parkway North) (Last Month: 5)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 280 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #55 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Thompson has a great get-off that, when combined with his amazing power and length, can be overwhelming for any offensive lineman. Once Thompson establishes a gap, he can be almost impossible to move. He is proficient at collapsing a pocket from the inside and opening up pass rushing lanes for his teammates. Thompson is participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

In The Mix: USC, Georgia, Missouri, Alabama, and Miami make an uneasy top 5 for Thompson as of now.

Latest: The roller-coaster that is Thompson’s recruitment has continued through December. After previously eliminating Alabama from his contenders, he now says that they are in consideration for an official visit in January, along with Georgia and Miami. Thompson also made a surprise official to Missouri back on 12/15, so now it seems like the Tigers are back in it too? I don’t even know anymore. Coupled with his USC visit back in November, Thompson has the ability to take three visits between the end of the dead period and Signing Day, and according to his own list, they would go to Miami, Georgia, and Alabama. He’s tentatively scheduled to be at Miami on 1/26 weekend, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all for him not to take that visit, or for another random team to jump in the mix.

10. Tyler Friday, DT, Ramsey, NJ (Don Bosco Prep) (Last Month: 6)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 265 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #85 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Friday is well built, with a thick college-ready frame from head to toe. Friday has a natural bend about his style of play that lends itself to an ease of movement and agility for a man of his size. He has experience playing both inside and outside and is able to generate a powerful bull-rush with speed/power drives into tackles.

In The Mix: Friday has a top 6 of Miami, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and UCLA.

Latest: Where it once seemed like Miami was a lock to get an official visit from Friday, things look much less certain on that front. Alabama came in with a late offer and Friday immediately set up and took an official to Tuscaloosa back on 12/15. Nick Saban coming in at the last minute is never a good sign. So, in addition to his previous visits to Michigan and Ohio State, Friday only has 2 visit slots left, and 3 teams to choose from in Penn State, UCLA, and Miami. However, Friday may not even take another visit and just decide between Bama, Michigan, and Ohio State, as he doesn’t want to take his recruitment all the way to Signing Day and will commit in January. Things are already looking bleak but, without an official, the Canes would certainly be dead in the water.

11. Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Tampa, FL (Berkeley Prep) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 265 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #17 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Petit-Frere needs to put on some weight in a college strength program, but when he does, he has the potential to be an elite left tackle, possessing fantastic length, frame, and athleticism. His massive wingspan buys him time to recover against sudden changes of direction. Petit-Frere is participating in the Under Armour All-America Game.

In The Mix: Petit-Frere has no top list. Miami, Stanford, Michigan, Florida, USC, Notre Dame, and Clemson make up some of his offers.

Latest: Now that Daniel Faalele has signed with Minnesota, Petit-Frere is officially the most mysterious recruit in America for the 2018 cycle. In any interview he gives, Petit-Frere is constantly deflecting, saying things like every school that has offered him still has a chance and that he’s working towards narrowing things down soon. Petit-Frere has been saying those same lines for months, but it will soon be time to pay the piper and reveal his hand when he shows up on campuses for his January officials. Petit-Frere took in-season OV’s to Michigan and Notre Dame, so he has three remaining. Coach Searels is working hard to get this talented lineman on campus at Coral Gables and it seems like, if that happens, Petit-Frere is open enough to end up in the orange and green.

12. Nigel Bethel, CB, Miami, FL (Northwestern) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 5-11 | Wt 160 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #1455 Overall

Behind The Ranking: Originally a track standout, Bethel’s 4.3 speed has translated nicely to the football field. He shows necessary hip flip and foot quickness to recover from mistakes in press coverage. Bethel features closing burst and takes playmaking angles to the throw. While he’s still learning the finer points of the corner position, it’s clear Bethel has incredible upside if coached up right.

In The Mix: Bethel named a final 2 of Miami and UCF.

Latest: A former UF commit, Bethel was dropped by the new Gators staff and is now looking for a new home. This is probably the least complicated recruitment still on the board. It’s simple for Bethel: if Miami whiffs on Campbell and Surtain Jr., he will become a take for UM and commit on the spot. He has directly said as much. If Miami gets one or both Heritage DB’s, Bethel will end up at UCF, where Randy Shannon, who was a big part in Bethel committing to Florida in the first place, is now the DC. Bethel will official to Miami on 1/26 and UCF on 2/2. The wait-game is on for the Miami Northwestern athlete.

13. William Barnes, OT/OG, Apopka, FL (Apopka) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 290 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #46 Overall

Behind The Ranking: 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. Barnes is participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

In The Mix: Schools like FSU, UF, Ohio State, UNC, and Auburn join Miami and others on Barnes’ offer list.

Latest: To be clear, all that is known right now is that Miami has reached out and been in contact with Barnes in the past month. He has not mentioned the Canes in interviews in quite some time (not that he’s done many to begin with). There’s a lot of work to be done here, but Barnes seems pretty open overall: he erased the top 6 he had posted in his Twitter bio and Barnes’ previous favorites, UNC and UF, had their share of struggles on the field this season. To boot, the Gators now have a completely new coaching staff, and Barnes has not set up an official to them as of yet, while planning OV’s to UNC on 1/12 and Auburn on 2/2. That leaves two open weekends before Signing Day and Miami will try to get Barnes on campus for one of them, but it’s an extreme longshot until we hear otherwise.

14. Dorian Gerald, DE/DT, Santa Clarita, CA (College of the Canyons) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 260 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, NR Overall

Behind The Ranking: Gerald is originally from Florence, South Carolina, but received no offers out of high school and went the JUCO route to improve his game. Now, the big D-Lineman is looked at as an instant plug-and-play impact player for many D-1 schools. Gerald quickly fires out of his stance and his physical demeanor allows him to set the run with ease. Gerald shows top-notch upper body strength and uses it to mow down offensive tackles who try and stone him off.

In The Mix: A host of programs have gotten involved with this former Tennessee commit lately, including Miami, Louisville, Florida, Arkansas, Nebraska, Ole Miss, and Texas Tech.

Latest: Not much is known about Gerald’s Miami recruitment, as he was offered literally earlier today. So, it’ll take some time for the process to develop enough to where we know just how high UM actually is in his picture. Gerald is a former Tennessee commit that re-opened his recruitment a few months back when Butch Jones and his staff was fired. What is noteworthy about the offer at this point is if UM offered Gerald with the intent of moving him inside, that might mean the Canes are getting indications either one or both of RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton are planning to jump to the NFL. If they plan on keeping him on the edge, this may be more of a reaction to the DJ Johnson transfer news. For his part, Gerald has already officially visited Louisville back in December, and has scheduled an OV to Florida on 2/2, leaving three officials of his remaining. The Canes will look to snag one of those and move up into his picture.

Falling Off

7. DT Davoan Hawkins: Miami stopped recruiting him and decided not to bring him in for an official, so Hawkins signed early with Kentucky.

8. DE Chris Collins: He made his official visit to Coral Gables, but Collins decided to stick with his original commitment and sign with UNC.

9. DT Jared Goldwire: The Canes made a late push, but it came down to Goldwire wanting to start right away; he signed with Louisville.

12. S John Huggins: He got a late offer from the new UF staff and that was apparently all he needed to hear; Huggins skipped the rest of his planned visits and signed with the Gators.

15. LB Amari Gainer: This was never happening. Gainer has always been all Nole and signed with FSU.