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Miami Hurricanes Recruiting Radar: Defensive Targets in 2020

In a perfect world, Miami’s 2020 recruiting class will be defense-heavy. Here are some names the Canes would like to add.

Can Miami make a big, BIG move and get 5-star LB Justin Flowe away from Alabama, Clemson, and USC? (also, Hi Denzel Perryman in the background with a watchful eye)

We’re back, Recruiting junkies. We’re finishing up setting the stage for Miami’s 2020 recruiting class, and today we’ll look at targets and names on the defensive side of the ball. But, before we do, I want to remind you that we’ve already talked about the numbers and needs for Miami in this class

Re-introduced the 2020 commits

Set the stage for Miami’s QB recruiting

And named a few targets on the offensive side of the ball (non-QB division)

With all of that being brought back to your attention (and you should read it all, if you haven’t already), it’s time to dig into some targets on the defensive side of the ball for 2020.

REMINDER: I won’t be profiling the current commits in this piece, since I already did that. So, if you want to know more about them and how they fit at their position, click that link up above.

Defensive End

Need: 3 | Committed: 1 - 4-star Samuel Anaele

4-star Chantz Williams. One of the best DEs in the country, Williams hails from Orange Park (FL) Oakleaf. That’s where Shaquille Quarterman once starred, if you didn’t know. Williams is openly part of a package deal with close friend and HS teammate OT Jalen Rivers (whom I discussed in the Offensive Targets piece). Although Miami has prioritized the Williams-Rivers pair for years, it will be a VERY TOUGH pull for the Canes, as all the traditional SEC recruiting powers are heavily pursuing these talented players.

4-star Latarie Kinsler. A Pahokee (FL) star, Kinsler is another name at DE that has been known for quite some time. At 6’2.5” 191lbs, Kinsler is a bit on the light side, but he has the frame to be 225-230lbs in due time. Kinsler holds 21 offers at present, with Oregon and Virginia being the teams along with Miami at the top, for now.

3-star Jamari Stewart. Though he is presently listed as a linebacker, the 6’4” 215lb Stewart figures to be an edge rusher at the college level. He does that job well already in HS for Port St. Lucie (FL) West Centennial, and has the size and length to do it well in college as well. Much like Jahfari Harvey in 2019, Stewart is very underrated at this time, due mainly to the fact that he’s listed as an LB, not a DE, but Miami is in heavy pursuit. The Canes are the clear leader for Stewart at present.

3-star Johnny Walker. Another local player, the Tampa (FL) Chamberlain standout is on the board for Miami too. At 6’3” 204lbs, Walker has good height and length, with a frame to grow into. Miami has had intermittent success recruiting the Tampa area, and Walker could be the latest pull from Florida’s West Coast. Miami is far and away his biggest offer at present, but other P5 teams are slowly getting involved in Walker’s recruitment.

3-star Elijah Roberts. A former Canes commit, the 6’3” 238lb Miami (FL) Columbus standout Roberts is a player who is opening eyes every time he steps on a field. He’s big and twitchy, and makes play after play, both in pass rushing and run support situations. Miami would love to get Roberts back in the fold, but Florida State and Penn State, among others, aren’t making that easy.

There are other DEs with offers. Players like 4-star Zykevious Walker (Ellaville, GA), 4-star Myles Murphy (High Point, NC), and 4-star Andy Boykin (LaGrange, GA) are all on the board, and with Jess Simpson’s connections across the Southeast, things could turn in Miami’s favor. But, for each player, unless/until a visit — any visit — to Coral Gables happens, then listing them as a seriously viable option in this class is a fool’s errand.

Defensive Tackle

Need: 2+ | Committed: 2 - 4-star Tre’Von Riggins, 4-star Willie Moise

Of all the positions in this class, with the recruiting need having been already met, DT is a spot where Miami could add an additional “best available” player to help build quality depth for the present and future.

4-star Jalen Carter. At 6’4” 301lbs — up from the 270s a year ago — Carter has good size and a frame to get bigger. A standout for Apopka (FL), Carter is the player that Miami is most closely connected to at DT. Carter only has 8 offers at present, which is a crazy low number for a player of his caliber, with Miami, Auburn, and Florida State headlining that list. He’s visited Coral Gables a couple of times, and Miami could push for a commitment this summer/fall.

5-star Bryan Bresee. The #1 player in America, Bresee is a 6’5” 290lb beast. The Damascus (MD) star can pick any school in the country he wants and they’ll find a spot for him. It is unlikely that he ends up in Miami, but a guy can dream, right?

4-star Vernon Broughton. This Houston (TX) Cy-Ridge standout is another recent offer recipient. Miami is obviously looking to add top end talent to the DT position, and the 6’5” 280lb Broughton fits that bill. It will probably be hard to get him to sign with Miami, but OLB coach Jon Patke got a top DT from Texas to visit within a week of being promoted to that position shortly before NSD 2017, so maybe he can work his magic with a full-cycle to play with?

4-star Kendrick Bingley-Jones. Another out of State star player, Bingley-Jones hails from Charlotte (NC). The 6’4.5” 266lb Providence Day School star has 23 offers, and is very highly recruited. Like the other players on the list, if he takes a visit to Coral Gables, then the game may be afoot. But, if not...

4-star Warren Brinson. This former Georgia commit plays his HS ball for Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy. At 6’4.5” 299lbs, Brinson has prototypical size for a DT (seeing a pattern here?). IDK how he goes to IMG but only has 8 scholarship offers, but that’s the case at present. And, since he plays with Canes commit Tre’Von Riggins, maybe he can do some peer recruiting to help Miami with Brinson? That would be nice.

JUCO Perrion Winfrey. Miami recently offered the 6’4” 306lb Winfrey. While I would prefer a HS prospect, Winfrey is older and more game-ready than a HS DT would be, so he could be a bit of cover for Miami at this position while the youngsters from 2019 and 2020 grow into the position. Winfrey plays fro Iowa Western CC, and has 9 offers at present. We’ll see how/if Miami moves forward with recruiting him.

Miami has offered fewer players at DT than most other positions. But with Jess Simpson’s ability to evaluate and recruit players, this list will likely expand over the course of the year. And, with another strong season by Miami’s DTs, players from States outside Miami’s recruiting base — Florida and Georgia, especially since Simpson was the legendary coach at Buford (GA) for a decade — may become reasonable targets down the line. Think signees Jason Blissett and Jared Harrison-Hunte from New York last cycle. Something like that, maybe.


Need: 3 | Committed: 0

5-star Justin Flowe. The Nation’s #1 linebacker, Flowe is everybody’s All-American. The Upland (CA) star is a 6’3” 220lb missile who is VICIOUS and VIOLENT in taking down opposing players. Simply put, Flowe does it all at LB. Not only does he have an offer, but so does his brother Jonathan Flowe, a 2021 standout LB, but the elder Flowe has already set an unofficial visit date to Coral Gables for this spring. You should know the drill by now: a player of this caliber isn’t a viable option unless/until they visit. Not only will Flowe visit, but he’s paying his own way to do so. That’s big. Whether or not Miami is able to continue to move forward with this recruitment will largely depend on that visit, but that’s what the coaches and recruiting staff are paid for. Flowe has already said he wants to take an OV to Clemson. And, most people think he’s probably going to USC. So, even WITH a strong visit, Miami has plenty of work to do.

5-star Antoine Sampah. Another 5-star player, Sampah hails from Woodbridge (VA). Miami needs top end talent at LB to replace the outgoing trio of Quarterman, Pinckney, and McCloud, and Sampah would fit that bill to a T. 6’2.5”, 220lbs, and violent. What’s not to love? The thing about it, however, is that Alabama and Clemson are also chasing the top 30 overall player, with Clemson being viewed as the favorite at present. So yeah. A tough hill to climb.

5-star Sav’ell Smalls. A Seattle (WA) Garfield standout, Smalls is yet another 5-star LB Miami has on the radar. A top 10 player in this class, Smalls is big (ironically) at 6’3” 230lbs. His recruitment is all over, with multiple predictions, and plenty of teams battling for his commitment. Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, and local Washington are but some of the 32 teams (including Miami) who have offered Smalls.

4-star Jayion McCluster. A Largo (FL) standout, McCluster is a good local option for Miami at LB. The 6’1” 190lb OLB will be an early enrollee at his chosen school, and that will help him (hopefully) see the field early as a freshman. Florida State, Florida, and Auburn lead the teams battling Miami for McCluster’s commitment, with FSU being the near-unanimous favorite at present.

4-star Derek Wingo. This Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas standout is committed to Penn State. The 6’2” 215lb Wingo has previously played QB for Aquinas as a sophomore, so he’s got a high football IQ. If he doesn’t stick with Penn State, Ohio State is a team that Wingo has been intrigued by. Which means Miami has quite a job to do if they’re going to flip him, and that’s putting it mildly.


Need: 3 | Committed: 1 - 4-star Jaiden Francois

4-star Fred Davis. The latest elite CB from JAcksonville (FL) Trinity Christian Academy, the 6’1” 182lb Davis has offers from everywhere. I’ll keep this short: if Davis doesn’t pick Clemson, he’s probably gonna pick Florida. Or maybe Georgia, since Todd Hartley is up there now and he DOMINATES in recruiting Duval county.

5-star Elias Ricks. The nation’s #1 CB, Ricks is committed to LSU. A star for Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei, the 6’2” 188lb Ricks is one of very few elite players from Mater Dei who isn’t committed to USC. Everybody in America wants Ricks, but if he doesn’t stick with LSU, it’ll probably Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, or USC. Yanno, the usual suspects.

4-star Jalen Harrell. A newer name for some, this Miami (FL) Central standout is sure to be a P5 recruit. At 6’2” 180lbs, Harrell has great size for CB. And, though his teammate, fellow CB Henry Gray, was once committed to Miami and gets most of the headlines, Harrell is a darn good player that is finally making people take notice of him. Miami is out front in his recruitment, and would be wise to push that advantage towards a commitment sooner than later.

4-star Keshawn Lawrence. A star for Nashville (TN) Ensworth School, Lawrence is a cousin of former Canes star Corn Elder. At 6’3” 192lbs, Lawrence is enormous for a DB. And, though he plays Safety for his HS and 7v7 team, Miami reportedly likes Lawrence at Cornerback. There are plenty of teams also after Lawrence, but he took an unofficial to Coral Gables around a 7v7 tournament, and plans to return for an official visit later. I’d personally drop the Ricks’ and Davis’ of the world and focus on Lawrence, who has 23 offers and is high on Clemson, instead.

4-star Ethan Pouncey. A standout for Winter Park (FL), Pouncey has good size and speed at 6’1” 160lbs. His brother, WR Jordan, was a Miami recruit who picked Texas instead a couple cycles ago. The younger Pouncey has game, but I think I’d take every other player listed above him first. BUT, when people start committing and the board shifts, Pouncey could be a prime option for Miami.


Need: 2 | Committed: 1 - 3-star ATH Ladarius Tennison.

4-star Keshawn Washington. A former Miami commit, the 6’2” 177lb Washington plays with good friend and Canes commit CB Jaiden Francois at Homestead (FL) South Dade. Sure, Washington has plenty of offers, but if Miami were to push, it’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t be able to get him back in this class, especially with his friend Francois committed as well.

4-star Legond Cavazos. One of the fastest players you’ll see, Cavazos plays his HS ball for Brandenton (FL) IMG Academy. A one-time Ohio State commit, the 6’1” 190lb Cavazos has 21 offers from all over. Miami, Ohio State, and Oregon are teams that are chasing after Cavazos, who won the Fastest Man competition at The Opening Miami Regional, would be a fit anywhere. So why not Miami, hmm?

3-star Daran Branch. An out of State option, Branch plays his HS ball at Amite (LA). That’s the school that Miami tried to get 5-star WR DaVonta Smith from a couple years ago. Branch plays CB in HS but Miami views him as a S at the college level. At 6’2” 175lbs, Branch has good size and plenty of game. He only has 10 offers as of now, but I expect that number to grow over the spring and summer.

3-star Derek Bermudez. Another HS CB Miami likes at S, Bermudez plays fro Jacksonville (FL) Sandalwood. At 6’2” 180lbs, he, like Branch, has good size and physicality for the interior of Miami’s defense. Bermudez isn’t ranked highly by any stretch, but a solid winter and spring will likely change that.

4-star Avantae Williams. The cousin of Miami RB Lorenzo Lingard, Williams is committed to Oregon. The DeLand (FL) standout is good on the football field and the track, much like his cousin. It will take a big effort to flip him, and with many other options available, Miami may elect not to try.

3-star Jerrold Pough. A local player from Hollywood (FL) McArthur, Pough is an interesting name to know. He has earned more than half of his 14 offers in the 2019 calendar year, with more likely on the way. If the 6’0” 170lb Pough were to be at American Heritage or St. Thomas Aquinas, he’d likely be a 25+ offer kid already. But, either way, he’s got some nice potential and Miami may look to capitalize on having gotten him on campus a couple times already to push for a commitment.

Miami also has quite a few offers out to Out of State players. Prospects such as 4-star RJ Mickens (Southlake, TX), 4-star Chris Thompson Jr. (Duncanville, TX), 4-star Vito Tisdale (Bowling Green, KY), 4-star Jordan Morant (Oradell, NJ), 4-star Bryson Washington (Houston, TX), and 4-star Xavion Alford (Pearland, TX) all hold offers at current. With Manny Diaz, Ephraim Banda, Jon Patke, and Blake Baker all having coached and recruited in Texas, that’s why you see so many offers out in the Lone Star State at Safety. More offers could come there, or locally in SoFLA, where high end DBs grow on trees. They just don’t always have the star ranking they should (which is a discussion for another day).

While Miami has plenty of offers out at every position on this list, I fully expect the board to continue to expand through this season.

Of the positions where offer/target expansion or alteration will come, I’d say Defensive Tackle would be the #1 spot. But, with a big need on the defensive side of the ball in this class in total, each position group should see offer/target expansion until Miami has the number and caliber of player they need committed in this class.

That’s it, guys. We’ve covered QB recruiting options, non-QB offensive position recruiting options, and now defensive recruiting options. The board will continue to grow, and Miami will work diligently to build a top-flight 2020 recruiting class.

Happy ‘crootin’, everybody!

Go Canes