Three years ago (before the 2016 season), I wrote this piece looking at the road ahead for Mark Richt to rebuild Miami’s roster to a championship-contender level. If you take a quick look, I said that Miami should be > 50% Blue Chips by....2019. Oh hey look. It’s 2019. I be knowin’.
In looking at the standard, I went with SBNation Recruiting Analyst Bud Elliot’s “Blue Chip Ratio”, which is having more than half the scholarship roster be 4-star or 5-star (i.e. “Blue Chip”) recruits coming out of HS. With the scholarship limit 85 players, that means 43 players would need to be “Blue Chips” to meet that standard.
So, now that you know what the standard is — 50% of the roster being “Blue Chip” recruits — where does Miami stand? Let’s take a look, position by position, at the team the Canes will field in 2019.
Miami Hurricanes Blue Chip Players, by position
Quarterback (3): Tate Martell, N’Kosi Perry, Jarren Williams
Miami finally has multiple Blue Chips at QB who will compete for playing time in 2019. In previous years, the real talent at the position — Perry and Williams — was behind the safe, “mature” option, who had average talent at best. With the transfer of Martell, a 5-star prospect in the class of 2017, Miami upped the talent level at the QB position greatly. While there are 2 other scholarship QBs on the roster, I fully expect one of this trio to be Miami’s starter in 2019.
Running Back (5): DeeJay Dallas, Lorenzo Lingard, Cam’ron Davis, Asa Martin, Realus George
Miami has always had plenty of talent in the RB room, and that hasn’t changed. With Dallas, Lingard, Davis, and Martin, Miami has 4 very highly rated prospects at the position. George was the nation’s #1 fullback recruit in 2018, so that’s a blue chip player as well. While there are other players at RB — Robert Burns was a blue chipper early in his HS career before injuries derailed that, and former walk-on Crispian Atkins — the quartet of RBs (pending Martin’s immediate eligibility appeal) and elite FB prospect should be the players we see on the field in 2019.
Wide Receiver (6): KJ Osborn, Jeff Thomas, Mike Harley, Brian Hightower, Mark Pope, Jeremiah Payton
Thomas, Harley, Hightower, Pope and Payton were all highly rated recruits out of HS before coming to Miami. On top of that, KJ Osborn adds a player with nearly 1500 yards and 12 TDs receiving to Miami’s roster. He was ranked as a 4-star player and 11th overall in the Transfer Portal this season by 247sports, so he counts, to me. And, again, Osborn has demonstrated his skill on the field at this level, and that matters.
Tight End (2): Brevin Jordan, Will Mallory
Brevin Jordan is the best TE in America. His 2018 classmate Will Mallory is also a blue chip player who is growing into his body and a bigger role on the Canes’ offense. The other players at this position are fine, but none measure up to this pair.
Offensive Line (5): Tommy Kennedy, Navaughn Donaldson, Kai-Leon Herbert, Cleveland Reed, DJ Scaife
It is well known that Miami needs to improve along the Offensive Line, but there’s some talent there. Donaldson was a Freshman All-American, and should be an NFL player at Guard. Scaife had ups and downs in a starting role in 2018 but has potential to be very good. Herbert and Reed both have size, but need to prove their worth at the College level. Kennedy is a grad transfer from Butler with nearly 40 games starting experience. He was rated a 4-star transfer portal player this year, so he’s the lowest rated of the Blue Chips at OL, but he still counts. Kennedy will likely get the first look to start at Left Tackle in 2019.
Defensive Line (8): Scott Patchan, Pat Bethel, Trevon Hill, Jaelan Phillips, Jonathan Garvin, Nesta Silvera, Jason Blissett, Jahfari Harvey.
Arguably Miami’s best position group, the Defensive Line has plenty of Blue Chip Talent. Patchan, Bethel, Garvin, Silvera, Blissett, and Harvey were all 4-star recruits in their given years. Hill was a standout for VT before being dismissed and transferring to Miami. Hill was a 4-star transfer portal player this offseason, and after 11 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, and 3.5 sacks in just 3 games last year, he earned that ranking. Phillips was a 5-star prospect and the nation’s #1 overall recruit in 2017. That seems decent enough to me.
Linebacker (3): Shaquille Quarterman, Zach McCloud, Avery Huff
Miami’s 3 senior starting LBs have been here for 4 years and their work on the field has been exemplary. McCloud and Quarterman were 4-star recruits in 2016. Pickney was a 3-star, but he’s been honorable mention all-ACC twice, so he’s PLAYING like a blue chip, but he wasn’t rated as one, so he’s not in this list BUT HE SHOULD BE. Huff was a 4-star in the class of 2019 and has the size, athleticism, and skill to be an impact player at this position down the line.
Defensive Back (10) Bubba Bolden, Romeo Finley, Trajan Bandy, Gilbert Frierson, Al Blades Jr., DJ Ivey, Gurvan Hall, Keontra Smith, Te’Cory Couch, Christian Williams
The most loaded position group on the Canes’ roster, the DB group is flat out elite. And, for a team that was the #1 passing defense in all of CFB last season, that makes sense. Every player listed was a 4-star recruit in their respective recruiting year. And, with 15 DBs on the roster, this means that 2/3rds of the players at this position group were Blue Chips. Wow. WOW. That’s what Miami should aspire to have at every position on the roster. 67% Blue Chips. Awesome. Yeoman’s work by Ephraim Banda and Mike Rumph on the recruiting trail and transfer portal. And just THINK what this group would look like if even 1 of the high profile SoFLA DBs that has elected to go elsewhere in recent years had stayed home. Sheesh.
Offensive “Blue Chips”: 21 (down 1 from 2018)
Defensive “Blue Chips”: 21 (up 5 from 2018)
Total “Blue Chips”: 42 (up 4 from 2018)
With 83 players on scholarship at my last count — which you can see here in the scholarship matrix— that puts Miami at 50.6% “Blue Chips” on the roster. If you’ve been following recruiting for a while, you know that the ratio championship teams have is 50% of the roster or more being “Blue Chips”. So, after many years of slowly inching toward that number, Miami has finally crossed the vanguard to have a Championship Caliber roster.
With 51% (rounded up) of the roster as Blue Chips, Miami is in rarefied roster talent air. For comparison, Notre Dame’s roster had 51% Blue Chips last season. The Irish went 12-0 and made the College Football Playoff with that roster.
This isn’t a perfect roster — no QB is proven, depth could be added at RB, defections/injuries have taken additional talent from WR, the OL NEEDS. WORK., Linebacker will be an issue when the seniors graduate — but Miami has a championship caliber roster for the first time in forever. That is a good thing, and both Mark Richt and Manny Diaz deserve credit for getting the talent to this level.
So there you have it. After years of merely having the best roster in the ACC Coastal, Miami now has a Championship Caliber roster overall. That means it’s time to coach these players up, see proper progression across the board, and go WIN.
Discuss away, ladies and gentlemen.