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Miami Hurricanes Recruiting Radar: Numbers and Needs in 2020

With the 2019 class in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look at what Miami needs in the 2020 class.

State of the U Illustration by Mike Meredith

Welcome back, recruiting junkies! While the casual recruiting fan checks in around signing day, you and I know that recruiting never stops. And that’s why we’re back here again today.

The Miami Hurricanes had a mediocre 2019 recruiting class. If you missed any of the 70+ pieces surrounding National Singing Day (both of them), then click this link and get caught up. But now, we move on to 2020.

After as admittedly average 2019 recruiting class — supplemented GREATLY by the transfer portal — Miami will look to bring in a top tier group of talent in 2020. We’ll get to the names shortly, but I like to start every cycle looking at the numbers for each position, accounting for both current need and potential attrition from the roster, something that always happens but has been made more mainstream with the aforementioned portal.

This is an annual reminder but worth saying: things can and do change over the course of a recruiting cycle. While these numbers are a good guideline based on depth at the position both on the roster and in the available talent pool, they are not the exhaustive or definitive. As we saw last cycle (and every cycle, really), recruiting is dynamic and these numbers will change based upon various factors and events.

Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s get into it.

Quarterback: 1

I’ve said it a million times, and I’m saying it again: Recruiting Rule #1 is that you have to have a QB in every class. So yes, Miami needs to have a QB in this recruiting class. Shocking, I know.

Miami has 5 scholarship QBs on the roster. Most teams try to have 4, and with none of the 5 being seniors, attrition by transfer by one (or more ) of the players who doesn’t win the starting job is likely. So, to get to the magic number of 4 scholarship QBs, Miami needs to get one in this class anyways. Or, the Canes could lose one and add one and stay at 5 QBs next year.

The thing here, really, is that Miami needs a TOP TIER QB in this class. With the QBs from 2017 (N’Kosi Perry, Cade Weldon, and Ohio State transfer Tate Martell) not yet established, the QB from 2018 (Jarren Williams) very talented but fresh off a redshirt, and the QB from 2019 (Peyton Matocha) being a developmental player, Miami really needs to take advantage of the available talent and get a high end player at this position in this class.

Running Back: 2

Of Miami’s 6 scholarship RBs, DeeJay Dallas is draft eligible (and RBs should leave early for the NFL more than other players due to the stress on the position) so he could leave. Sophomores Lorenzo Lingard and Cam Davis will be back. Auburn Transfer Asa Martin will be eligible in 2020 after sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules, unless he gets an immediate eligibility waiver. Senior Crispian Atkins is a former walk-on who is a depth practice player. And redshirt sophomore Robert Burns looks the part physically but won’t likely be a factor in his career here.

So, Miami needs to add top talent (because you can never have too much of that), and cover for Dallas potentially leaving early to the NFL, and recruit further over Burns. The Canes should be able to accomplish this by getting 2 high quality backs in this class.

Wide Receiver: 3

Not only did Miami only sign 1 WR in 2019 — early enrollee Jeremiah Payton — but there are several players who will or could leave the roster. Grad transfer K.J. Osborn is a 1 year guy at Miami. Junior Jeff Thomas could leave for the NFL. And another player from the rest of the WR group could transfer in search of more playing time, as well.

Adding 3 players to this position group would give Miami 4 WRs over 2 classes, and bring the total number at the position to the 9-11 range. All those things fit the ideal paradigm so this is the number.

Tight End: 2

Sophomore Brevin Jordan is a superstar. Fellow sophomore Will Mallory is developing well. Those players are the top of the TE position. Redshirt junior Michael Irvin II plays in spot duty only. Same with redshirt sophomore Brian Polendey. Freshman Larry Hodges could be solid but is a bit undersized.

With 3 of the 5 TEs being average at best, and with the potential for one (or more) to transfer, Miami needs to look to bring in 2 players at this position this year.

Offensive Line: 5

Miami has 13 OL for 2019. Teams ideally want to have 17 OL, with 15 being the floor. Of Miami’s 13 OL, George Brown Jr. and Butler Grad Transfer Tommy Kennedy are seniors. Junior Navaughn Donaldson could leave early for the NFL if he has a big year but that is probably unlikely at this point. There could be additional attrition by a younger player looking for more playing time or looking for a better fit as they don’t vibe with Miami’s new scheme or OL coach.

Miami really needs to find true Offensive Tackles in this class. This has been a glaring need on the roster for YEARS. And, to get to a more ideal number of linemen, the Canes will need all 5 OL slots — ideally 3 tackles and 2 guards — to be filled in this class.

Defensive Line: 5+

Miami has 16 DL in 2019. 15 are eligible as Jaelan Phillips has to sit out as a transfer. Of those 15, 4 of them — seniors Scott Patchan, Pat Bethel, and grad transfers Chigozie Nnoruka and Trevon Hill — are in their last year of eligibility. On top of that, junior DE Jonathan Garvin is likely to leave early for the NFL Draft. And, there are a couple “seeking opportunities elsewhere” candidates as well.

The ideal number of DL on the roster would be 16, which is where Miami is right now. Most base 4 DL teams are at that number. With Miami likely dropping down to 11 scholarship DL at most (yes, I’m counting Garvin as surely leaving), that means the Canes will need to replenish the roster, particularly at DE/edge rusher. 15 scholarship DL is a passable number, so Miami could shoot for 4 DL in this class, if nobody past Garvin departs. But 5 is the ideal number, all things considered.

Linebacker: 3

Miami has 8 LBs on the roster, and all 3 of their starting LBs — Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud — are seniors. Miami had a decent LB class last cycle with Sam Brooks and Avery Huff, but additional talent is needed to replace the outgoing 4-year starters.

Even if there’s attrition at this position, the number should remain at 3 for this class. 7 LBs on the roster, in addition to Miami routinely playing with 5 DBs (including the OLB/S hybrid STRIKER) will make having a slightly lower number at this position workable.

Defensive Back: 4+

Miami has 15 DBs — including STRIKERS — on the roster. 3 of them, Robert Knowles, Romeo Finley, and James Murphy (a former walk-on just put on scholarship this spring), are seniors. Adding 4 DBs in this class would bring Miami to 16 scholarship players at DB/Striker. That’s plenty good, and should be balanced across eligible classes, as well.

Special Teams: 0

Kicker Bubba Baxa and JUCO punter Louis Hedley are both sophomores heading into this season. There is no need for a scholarship player on special teams in this class, or for the next couple of classes, really.


TL;dr

So, after all of that, this is how I see the numbers breaking down for Miami in the 2020 recruiting class.

Miami Hurricanes 2020 Recruiting Class Numbers

QB RB WR TE OL DE DT LB CB S Best Available
QB RB WR TE OL DE DT LB CB S Best Available
1 2 4 2 5 3 2 3 3 2 (any spots not filled)

We’ll get to names shortly, but with an elite RB already committed, Miami could flip that 2nd RB slot to a Best Available slot and use it elsewhere, like DB maybe.

The needs add up to a full 25 person class for Miami. The Canes have 83 players on scholarship by my count, with 14 of them seniors. If only the seniors left and everyone else returned with no defections to the NFL draft or transfers, that would bring the scholarship number to 69 (nice) players. With a roster cap of 85 scholarships, that means Miami would have room for just 16 players.

So, to get to 25 available slots, Miami will need to have 9 non-seniors depart the roster, either to the NFL or to transfer elsewhere. If less than that leave, then that means the overall number of scholarships would diminish.

I’m not calling names, but there’s enough fat to be trimmed, and players who will reasonably seek playing time elsewhere — like a QB or two — that Miami SHOULD be able to have 25 scholarships available next year with the necessary amount of movement. And, if not, that just means that (hopefully) talented players are stepping up and sticking around, making Miami a more formidable team in 2020 and beyond.

We’ll come back tomorrow with a look at the players already committed, and have more on targets and names to know in the near future, too.

Go Canes