clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Miami Hurricanes Recruiting Radar: Final Class Breakdown and Grades

Our 6th and final look at Miami’s 2018 recruiting class with grades for each position

Your 2018 recruiting class, Canes fam.
247sports photos/ Mike Meredith, State of the U illustration

National Signing Day is in the rearview mirror, so it’s time to recap Miami’s 2018 recruiting class and give out grades (your favorite!).

I’m going to keep the same format for this piece, because consistency is a key to success.

Class Numbers

I wrote about this already earlier in the spring and you can read the whole piece here. I’ve already had to update this slightly (more OL slots), but these are the numbers of players at every position that I was looking for Miami to take in 2018:

Miami Hurricanes 2018 Class Numbers

QB RB WR TE OL DE DT LB CB S K Best Available
QB RB WR TE OL DE DT LB CB S K Best Available
1 2 4 2 4 1 2+ 1 3 2 1 (Any extra spots not filled)

Miami didn’t get to those numbers, but that happens when you miss on guys down the stretch. I’ll dive into that when I get to the affected positions.

Now, let’s recap the class that was, and give grades for the recruiting at each position this year.


Need: 1

Signed: 1

After parting ways with former commit Artur Sitkowski, who ended up dropping to a 3-star and committing to his homestate school of Rutgers, Miami moved quickly to get U.S. Army All-American Jarren Williams to flip from Kentucky to Miami.

Plainly put, this is an upgrade of epic proportions.

Williams, who hails from Lawrenceville, GA, is one of the best players at his position in a deep QB class, and showed his talents well at the Army All-American game. He’s well built at 6’2” 208lbs, and is a player that will push for immediate playing time at Miami.

Williams played with several Miami commits at Nike’s The Opening last summer, and that experience laid the foundation for his eventual flip to Miami. Kentucky had hoped that their early recruitment of Williams would be enough to keep him committed to the Wildcats, but Williams is, quite simply, too good a player to play at Kentucky.

Miami got a steal of a deal with Williams, who is already enrolled and on campus. This one is a homerun.

Position grade: A

Running Back

Need: 2

Signed: 3

After years of struggles recruiting the RB position (only getting 1 RB a year, missing on several top targets), Miami hit the jackpot this cycle by landing 5-star Lorenzo Lingard, 4-star Cam Davis, and the #1 FB in America, Realus George.

Lingard, the highest rated player in Miami’s 2018 recruiting class, is a day one contributor, if not starter. He’s big, fast, and strong. The prototype at RB.

Davis is well built and very dynamic as well. Davis can impact games as a runner or receiver, and should push for early playing time as well. Davis, who wore #2 in high school, will wear #21 at Miami to honor his friend and HS teammate Randy Russell, a Florida Safety signee who was diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition that has caused Russell to retire from football immediately.

George, a 6’2” 245lb beast, played FB, RB, TE, and DL for Atlanta (GA) Pace Academy, but he’ll focus on FB at Miami. He’s big, strong, quick in short spaces (essential for a FB) and MEAN. He’ll open holes for Lingard and Davis, along with Miami’s returning RBs Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas.

Miami got 2 of the top 7 RBs in this class, along with arguably the best FB as well. If QB recruiting was a homerun, then this is a walk-off grand slam that’s orbiting the moon.

Position Grade: A++

Wide Receiver

Need: 4

Signed: 4

Another skill position, another ELITE group of recruits for Miami. In the pursuit of building a championship caliber roster, groups such as Miami’s WRs are needed year over year to built depth and talent.

In 2018, Miami signed 4-star Mark Pope (who could have easily been a 5-star), 4-star Brian Hightower, 4-star Marquez Ezzard, and 3-star Dee Wiggins. This is a varied and dynamic group of players who each bring a unique skillset to the now LOADED WR room.

Pope and Wiggins, teammates at Miami (FL) Southridge, each have a strong case that they’re underrated. This is especially true for Wiggins, who at 6’3” 175lbs, shut down his recruitment after committing to Miami early in his junior season, thereby eliminating recruiting interest or offers from other teams. Oh yeah, and Pope is only one of the best receivers in America who was uncoverable throughout his HS career. I have no earthly idea why Pope isn’t a 5-star, but hey, whatever.

Hightower is a size/speed guy with great hands who had nearly 1,200 yards as a HS sophomore before transferring to Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy. IMG Academy is to football what Oak Hill Academy is to basketball. On a roster that loaded, Hightower’s numbers suffered, but his skills progressed rapidly. He’s damn good.

Ezzard, the last player to join this group, is a WR in the Anquan Boldin mold of size and strength. At 6’2” 215lbs, Ezzard is routinely found out muscling defenders for catches all over the field.

Another moonshot homerun here for the Canes.

Position Grade: A+

Tight End

Need: 2

Signed: 2

In the past 2 years, Miami has lost David Njoku and Christopher Herndon IV to the NFL drafts, as well as Jovani Hoskins to transfer. With that being the case, reinforcements at TE were sorely needed in this class, and Miami got what they were looking for this cycle.

Miami signed 4-star Brevin Jordan and 4-star Will Mallory in this class. Jordan is the best TE recruit in America, and Mallory is a tall and productive player with impressive pedigree (his father and uncle both played at Michigan).

Miami needed TEs badly, and got 2 of the top 8 players at this position to sign with the Canes.

Yup, another moonshot homerun here, too.

Position Grade: A+

Offensive Line

Need: 4

Signed: 3

Miami needed quality talent to help rebuild the OL, which in case you haven’t been watching is one of the biggest needs for this team. The Canes did a good job of restocking the talent up front by getting 4-star Delone Scaife, 4-star Cleveland Reed, and 3-star John Campbell to sign in this class.

Scaife has played both guard and tackle for Miami (FL) Southridge, and did so at the Under Armour All-America game. Reed is a pure guard, and he played next to Scaife in th eUA All-America game, so he’s got talent as well. Campbell was the starting LT at Orlando (FL) Dr. Phillips, who were the 2016 8A runners-up to Southridge (with Pope, Wiggins, and Sacife) and the 2017 8A State Champions.

Even with that very good group of signees, the missing element on the OL in this class for Miami, to my eye, is a big-time OT prospect. Campbell is good and should develop over time, but a can’t-miss, day 1 contributor at LT would have taken this group from good to great, in my opinion. Still, this is is a very solid group for Miami.

Position Grade: B+

Defensive Line

Need: 4

Signed: 3

This is a position group where Miami could have had more success this year. Miami lost 7 DL from the 2017 team, but only signed 3 to replace them. Even with getting some quality guys, there’s a dearth of numbers at DL in this class that mitigates the quality of the signees.

Miami got 4-star DT Nesta Silvera, 3-star DT Jordan Miller, and 3-star ATH Gregory Rousseau, who will transition from a multiple position athlete in HS to exclusively play DE in college, in this class. Each player has some very good skills, but they’re only 3 guys when Miami clearly needed more.

Silvera is the #2 DT in this class Nationally, so he’s an elite talent. He attends Plantation (FL) American Heritage, a schol that is loaded with talent from which Miami has struggled to recruit in recent years.

Miller is a late-rising DT who is massive at 6’4” 330lbs. Had he attended a bigger HS through his first 3 years, and attended recruiting camps and combines (which he did not), he lilkely would have been a 4-star recruit. So, there’s talent.

Rousseau is tall and thin at 6’6” 220lbs. Mark Richt said he’s gained 15lbs since he enrolled at Miami in January, and he’ll continue to develop physically, as well as learn to play the DE position.

Again, those players are good and I’m happy Miami signed all of them. But after losing both starting DTs, RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton, to the NFL draft, Anthony Moten, Trent Harris, and Chad Thomas to graduation, Ryan Fines to playing-time based attrition, and DJ Johnson to transfer in order to be closer to home — that’s a LOT OF GUYS, right? — signing only 3 DL in this class, including a talented and but raw DE like Rousseau, isn’t good enough.

I’m not going to list the names, but Miami missed on a BUNCH of DL targets this cycle, including several in-state players. Miami also didn’t offer some local players who are going to play at P5 schools who could have helped the depth of this position at a minimum.

Yeah, Miami could be adding Illinois DT Tito Odenigbo on a graduate transfer, but even still, the numbers are not in Miami’s favor along the DL in this recruiting class. But, the bright side is the guys they did get are good enough to play here with no reaches, so it isn’t all bad.

Position Grade: C


Need: 1

Signed: 1

Miami’s need at linebacker was minimal in this class, so the recruiting standard wasn’t hard to reach. With the potential for multiple starting LBs to leave the team for the NFL Draft after the 2018 season, I would have preferred to have taken 2 LBs in this class, but Miami went with only 1 take this year, and a heavy emphasis on getting 3-4 elite recruits in the 2018 recrutiing cycle.

Homestead (FL) South Dade 3-star LB Patrick Joyner is the sole player Miami signed at this position. He was once committed to Florida State, so flipping him to the hometown Canes was a big win for Miami, especially considering the fact that Joyner was the only player taken at this position this year.

Joyner has good size, skill, and potential, but I would have been more comfortable taking 2 LBs. Another viable option didn’t present itself, however — you can debate if 4-star LB Xavier Peters had the grades to qualify at Miami amongst yourselves — so Miami took Joyner and that’s it. Solid if unspectacular.

Position Grade: C+

Defensive Back

Need: 6

Signed: 5

Much like Defensive Line, this group is good to very good, but it could have, and reasonably should have, been great given the amount of high-caliber local talent available in this class. Even with that being the case, Miami did well to sign a group of DBs with both talent and potential.

In Miami’s 2018 class at DB are 4-star S Gurvan Hall, 4-star CB D.J. Ivey, 4-star CB Gilbert Frierson, 4-star CB Al Blades Jr, and 3-star CB Nigel Bethel.

Hall is a talented Safety with range who hits very hard. Ivey has been favorably compared to former UM CB Artie Burns — who ended up being a 1st round NFL Draft pick — due to his height, length, and coverage ability. Frierson could play corner or safety, and went to Coral Gables HS, just minutes down the street from UM’s campus. Blades Jr. is a Miami roaylty whose father of the same name, and 2 uncles all played at Miami. Bethel is a speedster from Miami (FL) Northwestern who runs on the track team and has 4.38 speed in the 40 yard dash.

Again, this is a good group. Hall, Ivey, and Frierson will push for immediate PT in the secondary. Blades has pedigree but might be best used at Safety. And Bethel has the kind of speed you can’t teach, and could be an impact player in the return game immediately.

But the misses for Miami are too big to ignore. 5-stars Tyson Campbell and Patrick Surtain Jr. to Georgia and Alabama, respectively. 4-star Josh Jobe flipped to Alabama at the early signing period. And, because Miami was chasing Campbell, Surtain, and Jobe, other talented players such as 4-star CB Asante Samuel Jr. got away, too.

Let me say for the 3rd time in this section: This DB class for Miami is good. Maybe even very good. But after 2 years hyping up this crop of DBs, and missing out on AT LEAST 4 of the top guys at this position group, one which sorely needed depth AND top end talent in this class, I can’t help but feel like Miami missed out on a golden opportunity to really reshape the roster in a way that hasn’t been seen in nearly 20 years.

Position grade: B (but MAN, it should have been better)

Special Teams

Need: 1

Signed: 1

Record-setting 4 year kicker Michael Badgley has moved on from the Canes, so Miami went out to find a replacement for him. It took a little bit at the beginning of the cycle, but Miami quickly found their guy and made moves.

The scholarship kicker in this class is Pasadena (TX) Memorial’s Bubba Baxa. A multi-sport athlete — Baxa is an All-District 3B on Memorial’s baseball team — Baxa handled both kicking and punting duties in HS. In college, however, he’ll focus on kicking, and that’s fine by me.

The industry experts at Kohl’s Kicking have Baxa ranked as the #2 K in America this cycle, and briefly had him #1. Baxa is said to routinely hit kicks from 60+ yards in practice, kicking events, and games. Yeah, that’ll work.

Miami needed a K to replace Badgley, and got one of the best in America. That’s how you recruit.

Position Grade: A

Miami did a very good job in the 2018 recruiting class by getting talented players, and plenty of them, to join the Canes. Yes, there were misses, but there were plenty of hits, too.

From the position grades, and just the signee list alone, it’s clear that the Offensive class is better than the Defensive class for Miami. Overall, with 23 recruits in this class, and the 7th highest average rating per player when you remove FBs and Ks, Miami has a lot to like. With proper progression on campus, and continued on-field success, this class would go a long way to returning The U to the championship-caliber program we all aspire them to be.

Final Class Grade: B+

247sports photos/ Mike Meredith, State of the U illustration

Agree with the grades? Hate my guts and everything I say is stupid? Whichever one, hop in the comments and let me know.

Go Canes