If you know the maxim ABC: Always. Be. Crootin’...then you know that recruiting never stops. The calendar keeps moving, and teams keep crootin’.
This offseason, we’ve already looked at the numbers for Miami’s 2019 recruiting class, and the commits in that group. Those pieces are below, as is out Welcome to the U piece for the recently-committed Jeremiah Payton, a top WR prospect and potential 5-star player in this recruiting class.
While the foundation of this class, which is currently the top-ranked group in America, there are still spots to be filled and work to be done on the recruiting trail. To that end, today we’ll look at the landscape of offers and targets at the positions on the offensive side of the ball for 2019.
Last thing, before we get started, a gentle reminder that this list is in no way exhaustive, as new targets pop up on the board all the time. Miami has offered far, FAR fewer players this year than at this same time in previous years, so I fully expect the target lists to grow at pretty much every position, with RB and WR the likely exceptions in my estimation.
Nevertheless, this is a great place to start the conversation about the targets at each offensive position.
Let’s get into it:
My number 1 recruiting rule is that you must have a QB in your class, every year, without fail. For the 2019 class, Miami is still searching for their QB commit, but on the heels of N’Kosi Perry in 2017 and Jarren Williams in 2018, Miami has the luxury to be very selective at this position in 2019.
Even with Perry and Williams being on campus as QB signees in the last 2 classes, Miami ha offered several players with nice skills and good potential in the 2019 recruiting class.
4-star Michael Johnson Jr. Miami’s top target at QB is the Eugene (OR) Sheldon signal caller Johnson. Oregon is widely thought to be Johnson Jr.’s landing spot as his father is an assistant coach for the Ducks. But, Johnson Jr. remains open to schools all over America, and is in the process of scheduling a visit to Coral Gables this spring. QB coach Jon Richt has been in heavy communication with Johnson Jr, but unless/until a visit happens, this recruitment isn’t going to progress.
4-star Graham Mertz This Wisconsin commit from Leawood (KS) has recently seen his offer list explode. Miami recently offered, as have Michigan, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma State and Alabama. A pocket passer with athleticism to move the chains with his legs when needed, Mertz is a player whose stock is rising swiftly. Again, follow the visits for his interest in Miami, but this is a name to know at this juncture at a minimum.
4-star Taisun Phommachanch The nation’s top dual-threat prospect, Phommachanch hails from Bridgeport, CT. He’s visited campus and threw for Miami at a Mark Richt Football Camp last year, so there’s been a connection in the past. A couple recruiting analysts have predicted Phommachanch to FSU in recent days, and Miami is openly chasing Johnson Jr. harder. But, he’s talented, has been on campus, and thrown for Miami’s coaches to evaluate personally, so he’s on the list for early names to know. (Also, trying typing or saying that name 3 times fast. sheeeeeesh)
Others to know: 3-star Curt Casteel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL - St. Thomas Aquinas), Oklahoma commit 4-star Spencer Rattler (Phoenix, AZ), 4-star Sam Howell (Monroe, NC), 3-star David Baldwin (IMG Academy, originally from Cali)
After finally getting 2 RBs in the 2018 class in 5-star Lorenzo Lingard and 4-star Camron Davis (really 3 if you count national-#1 FB Realus George as well), the Canes have a loaded RB group, but aren’t looking to settle there. For the 5th cycle in a row, Miami is looking to bring in 2 RBs in the 2019 class, and they’re off to a good start on that front.
Already committed to Miami is 3-star Marcus Crowley from Jacksonville (FL) Trinity Christian Academy. At 6’1” 200lbs, Crowley has good size, nice quickness, and is a good receiver as well. He’ll be bumped up to a 4-star level prospect in short order.
But, like I said, Miami isn’t content to settle with just Crowley at RB in this class. The good thing for Miami is that there is a wealth of talent at this position, and several of those players have interest in or a connection to the Canes.
5-star Trey Sanders An elite, top 20 player in this recruiting class, Sanders is a target for Miami at RB. He’s powerfully built at 5’11” 215lbs, and has everything you want in a RB. Formerly committed to Alabama (so that should speak to his ability level), Sanders attends Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy. He’s originally from North Florida, and plays on a 7v7 team with the son of an FSU coach, so Miami will have work to do here.
But, on the bright side, Sanders just visited campus last weekend and had, by all reports, an amazing visit. He’s been connected to HC Mark Richt and OC/RB coach Thomas Brown for years, so Miami is in the fight. Just how much is yet to be seen, but this isn’t just me putting a name on a list to be cute.
5-star Noah Cain The other 5-star RB at Brandenton (FL) IMG Academy, Cain teams with Sanders in the backfield for the Ascenders. Originally from Texas — Cain played HSFB with Miami TE Brian Polendey at Denton (TX) Guyer in 2016 before transferring to IMG for 2017 — and with family roots in Louisiana, Cain’s recruitment is trending towards either Texas or LSU. Like I said above, Cain played with a Miami player in Polendey, and several other targets in his time at IMG, so Miami has been around for him for a while. But, it seems that the 5’11” 207lb Cain may be looking elsewhere for his college destination.
4-star Kenny McIntosh A local player, McIntosh, who attends Ft. Lauderdale (FL) University School, is the younger brother of former Canes DT RJ McIntosh. At 6’1” 205lbs, the younger McIntosh is powerfully built, and very talented.
Along with Sanders, McIntosh is probably at the top of Miami’s RB board as of now. He’s got size, quickness, power, and speed, and is a Miami legacy, so those things put together make McIntosh a premium prospect for Miami. Additionally, he’s teammates with a top DB prospect (we’ll talk about him later), so what’s not to like?
4-star Daniel Carter A top player from Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas? Yeah, that’ll work. Carter has good size at 5’11” 195lbs, and runs well both inside the tackles and outside on the edge. Aquinas’ offense didn’t do the best job of highlighting Carter in 2017, but that should (hopefully for them) change in 2018. Carter is a player I would easily take on my team, but I’d prefer the 3 players listed above, if we’re being honest.
4-star Nayquan Wright A puzzle, wrapped inside of an enimga, next to a question, Wright has been boom or bust in his HS career. Hailing from Carol City (FL), the same school that produced 2018 RB signee Cam Davis, Wright was a superstar as a HS freshman and early in his sophomore year.
Then the injuries started.
Wright played only a handful of games in 2016 (his sophomore year) while battling injuries as Carol City won the Florida 6A State Championship. Then, Wright re-injured himself during fall training camp and missed the entirety of the 2017 season. Wright participated at The Opening Miami regional, and looks to be getting back to the fast, quick player who was once thought to be the “next big thing” from Dade County. I wouldn’t recruit him if I were Miami, what with Robert Burns already on the roster and trying to overcome years of injuries, but if he’s healthy — a big IF considering recent history — Wright is a good player.
4-star Cesaire Mellusi Another fast and talented player, the Naples (FL) native Mellusi has seen his stock rise in the last couple month. Notre Dame and USC are among the many teams who are chasing Mellusi, with ND being the leaders at current.
While he’s good, and deserving of an offer, I’d rather see Miami devote their attention to Sanders and McIntosh for the other RB spot in this class. And, on top of that, the last time Miami had a commit from Naples was the artist known as Fuzzy Muffin (Tyler Byrd, for those wondering), so.....
This is the position where Miami is most notably stacking talent. Miami has had an elite group of 7 players come in at WR over the last 2 years, and that’s not even counting players like Ahmmon Richards or Lawrence Cager, who were recruited 3 and 4 years ago, respectively.
Harley, Thomas, Njoku, Pope, Hightower, Ezzard, and Wiggins is an ELITE 2 year haul at WR. #RandomThoughts— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) February 14, 2018
Now, Miami looks to further augment their deep and talented WR corps by getting even more top tier talent in the 2019 recruiting class. Miami already has commitments from 4-stars Brieon Fuller and Jeremiah Payton in this class, so the Canes can be very selective for the WR3 (and maybe WR4 depending on how things fall) slots in this class.
4-star Frank Ladson A tall and lean player 6’4” 170lbs, Ladson has 5-star potential and is one of the top recruits at WR in America. The Homestead (FL) South Dade standout can do it all from the WR position, and teams all over the country are vying to get him on their roster.
Formerly committed to Florida, Ladson decommitted in the spring to check out his options. Miami has been heavily involved, as have Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Florida State. In short, everybody in America wants Ladson, including Miami. Ladson and his teammate — a top DB prospect who we’ll talk about later — have visited campus and games a few times, so Miami will (hopefully) be involved in this chase until the end.
4-star Mark-Anthony Richards The younger brother of Miami star WR Ahmmon Richards, Mark-Anthony Richards is a multi-talented player who could find a home at RB, WR, or DB in the future. Though some see him as a premium DB prospect, the younger Richards has recently stated he wants to play offense in College. He’s good enough to make that call, so for now I’m listing him on offense, but fully aware he could end up on defense.
The younger Richards is more thickly built than his brother, checking in at 6’1” 194lbs. He has the frame to be 210lbs and keep his athleticism, which is pretty nice, if you ask me.
Due to his legacy and talent, Richards is a player that Miami could and should chase in this class. Early on, Miami offered him at ATH, but if Richards wants to play offense, then you let him play offense.
4-star Jashawn Sheffield One of 2 players from Saint Simons Island (GA) Frederica Academy that Miami has offered (we’ll meet the other one when we talk defense), Sheffield is a talented player who can impact games on offense.
Sheffield has good size at 6’2” 175lbs, and good speed to go with it. His playmaking ability is eye catching, and many teams are chasing after him in this class. Florida State look to lead this recruitment right now, with Clemson, Auburn, Ohio State also in the chase. Miami was hot for Sheffield early on in this cycle, and they’re still on the board, but it seems like Sheffield may be headed elsewhere unless Miami changes course and pushes hard.
4-star John Dunmore A smooth technician with good size and skill, the 6’2” 178lb Dunmore is a top prospect, to be sure. Miami hasn’t offered yet, but that could come soon for the Hollywood (FL) Chminade-Madonna star.
Dunmore, who earned an invite to Nike’s The Opening last weekend, has size, speed, and skill. He’s a very good player, on the level of Jeremiah Payton and Frank Ladson. Miami appears to be higher on those players than Dunmore, but he’ll be fine. With offers from FSU, Florida, Auburn, and Ohio State, Dunmore is going to make some team very happy when he decides to commit.
3-star Charles Njoku A late addition to this piece (hey man, I forget things sometimes), Njoku is the youngest brother of former Canes TE David Njoku and current Canes WR Evidence Njoku. The 6’4” 180lb Wayne Hills (NJ) receiver averaged nearly 20 yards per catch as a HS junior, and first round NFL Draft pick David once called him “the most talented” of his athletically gifted brothers.
Here’s the thing: Even though he’s a legacy, and has a brother currently on the roster, Miami may not even have space for Charles Njoku in this class. I know I know I know. But your family name can only get you so far, and all things being equal, Miami would probably go after other prospects.
But, things aren’t all equal, so the youngest Njoku could get a look from Miami. He hasn’t visited Miami as much as one might think, and didn’t come to Paradise Camp last summer, so Njoku-to-the-U isn’t a done deal, from either side of things. But, if he wants to follow the path taken by 2 of his brothers and come to Miami, the Canes would find room for him. Right?
There are other WRs with offer, but my hope is that Miami is able to get one (or more) from this group, preferably Ladson and/or Richards, and then call it a day.
After losing David Njoku and Christopher Herndon IV to the NFL draft in the last 2 years, Miami needs to rebuild the depth and talent at TE. Getting the #2HeadedMonster of Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory in the 2018 recruiting class is a big step along that path, but there’s work still to be done at this position for the Canes.
Miami already has a commit from Larry Hodges at TE (he’s more of an H-Back since he’s only 6’1”) in this class. Another TE to go with him would be the dream.
4-star Jalen Wydermyer. This 6’4” 225lb Texan from Dickinson, TX is a prime target for Miami at TE. Wydermyer is starting to see his profile rise, with Texas A&M, Georgia, Ole Miss, Nebraska, and North Carolina all having offered within the last week. Wydermyer should end up as a 25+ offer player before this cycle is over.
TE coach Todd Hartley has been recruiting Wydermyer for a while, and his track record as a developer and recruiter is well known. Wydermyer offers the size and physicality at TE that Miami needs. He would be the heaviest recruit at that position in the last 2 classes, and the 2nd tallest, too. From receiving to blocking, Wydermyer can do everything Miami needs their TEs to do. He’s my #1 most wanted TE to complete this pairing for Miami in this class.
4-star Keon Zipperer A Lakeland (FL) standout, Zipperer is another player with a Miami offer. While that’s the case, Florida is the OVERWHELMING favorite here, so take that as you will. Miami has visited Zipperer a couple of times, and Zipperer returned the favor with a trip to Coral Gables recently, but all signs still point to him taking his talents to Gainesville.
4-star Isaiah Foskey Miami rarely goes out to Cali for recruiting, but they have with this offer. A star at Concord (CA) De La Salle, Foskey was one of the first TEs Miami offered for the 2019 class. At 6’5” 235lbs, Foskey is your prototypical TE from a built standpoint.
Foskey is a big-time National recruit, with Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, UCLA, and many others pursuing him. Miami offered early, and would surely be able to use a top talent like Foskey, but I’m not sure the Canes are going to push hard enough to get Foskey away from all the teams (and others who are recruiting him) listed above.
Like every team in America, Miami needs Offensive Linemen. But, even more than that, Miami need Offensive Tackles. The Canes have done a good job recruiting Guard types in previous years, and have even gotten some good developmental Tackles recently (Zalon’tae Hillery and John Campbell come to mind), but a dominant, day 1 contributor Tackle prospect has been missing for quite a while. Getting one (or more) in this class would be a welcomed sight for the Canes.
Miami already has a commitment from Ocean Springs (MS) OT Brandon Cunningham (6’5” 270lbs), and West Palm Beach (FL) Palm Beach Central lineman Renato Brown (6’5” 310lbs) could play OT or DT, as well. So, there’s already 1 (maybe 2) players at OT, but Miami could still stand to add a top-end player at this position to this class.
5-star Darnell Wright The nation’s top OT hails from Huntington, WV, and Miami has already offered. The Canes were quick to visit Wright when the contact period opened, and they hope to bring the talented linemen down to Coral Gables.
When talking about the #1 OT in a recruiting class, you can be sure that offers abound. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech are just a few of the teams who have offered and are recruiting Wright. Urban Meyer’s team holds the early advantage, but the teams recruiting Wright, and others who have yet to offer, will surely pursue him throughout this cycle.
4-star Wanya Morris A standout from powerhouse Loganville (GA) Grayson, Morris is another top OT prospect who holds a Canes scholarship offer. Florida State, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, and LSU are among the top group of teams recruiting Morris at present. Similar to Wright, Miami will have to make serious moves to get involved with Morris moving forward.
4-star Will Putnam Your annual P5 prospect from Tampa (FL) Plant, Putnam has good size at 6’4” 280lbs. Miami and Ohio State are thought to be the teams a tthe forefront of Putnam’s recruitment at current, but other teams are starting to come around, too.
Putnam has received offers from Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina, and Florida State since December 5th, so things are heating up for him. Miami would be well served by getting Putnam in this class.
4-star Michael Tarquin Once thought to be days if not moments away from a commitment to Miami, things seem to have fallen off between the Canes and the 6’5” 280lb Belleview (FL) native Tarquin. He’s got size and skill, and has visited Miami multiple times in the past, so I don’t know what’s changed, but it’s something.
Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Arizona State have moved up to the top of Tarquin’s recruitment. Unless something changes AGAIN, I think Tarquin is likely headed elsewhere.
3-star Chris Akporoghene Hailing from Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy, Akporoghene is a player with a Miami offer. At 6’5” 275lbs, Akporoghene is another player with good size at the position. Originally from Seymour, TN, Akporoghene is a prospect who just recently gained a Miami offer, and one to watch moving forward.
As I said up top in the Tackle part of this piece, Miami has done a better job recruiting guard types than tackle types in the past few years. That is still ongoing, as Miami has a commitment from Jacksonville (FL) Atlantic Coast OG Kingsley Eguakun. This is a position group where Miami is recruiting from a position of strength, so they should be selective from here on out.
5-star Evan Neal A massive athlete at 6’8” 375lbs, Neal could play guard or tackle in college. The Brandenton (FL) IMG Academy star plays LT for the Ascenders, but has been listed at Guard throughout his HS career. At 6’8”, Neal has the height and length to play tackle, and like I said, he’s done so in HS, so that’s possible for the future.
Miami has made Neal a priority target since Mark Richt and staff were hired in 2016. They aren’t alone though; Neal, a top 50 player in this recruiting class, holds offers from 23 schools including Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Auburn. Miami will have a fight on their hands to get this elite player in the 2019 recruiting class.
4-star Dontae Lucas This former Miami (FL) High standout has recently transferred to, you guessed it, Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy for his senior year. Lucas has long held a Miami scholarship offer, and was frequently seen at Hard Rock Stadium throughout the 2017 season to take in games. He’s an elite guard, and one of the top players on Miami’s board.
Among the many other suitors for Lucas is none other than Florida State. There are reportedly deep personal connections between Lucas and several new FSU staffers, but we’ll see if those are enough to get the 6’3” 323lb Lucas to commit to the Noles. And, even with that potentially being the case, many teams — Alabama and Florida, most notably — have also offered and are recruiting Lucas.
So there you have it. The current state of the targets on offense for the Canes.
We’ll look at the defensive side of the ball (where Miami needs a big year on the trail) in the coming days.