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The South Florida recruiting landscape of ‘22

The amount of top flight South Florida prospects are few and far between in 2022.

Orange Bowl: Miami v Florida State Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The South Florida recruiting board is sparse in 2022. The Miami Hurricanes are going to have to use their new coaching staff, one that’s coached all over the country, to lure in players from IMG, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Miami has traditionally done well in Louisiana and Texas and will have to continue to do so.

The coaching staff

New defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson has coached in Texas, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. New linebacker coach Travis Williams has mostly coached at Auburn (AL) but is from S.C. and has coached high school in Georgia. DL coach Jess Simpson has coached high school ball in Georgia, and NFL football with the Atlanta Falcons. Simpson understands the Miami landscape as he’s a returning UM coach.

On the offensive side, Rhett Lashlee has experience in Alabama from his time at Auburn, as well as in Texas. Garin Justice can hopefully tap into Las Vegas and Rob Likens can use his influence from his time in Louisiana, northern California and Arizona to lure some players from those areas.

Obviously Manny Diaz has experience in Tallahassee, North Carolina (NCSU), Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. If you add those four to South Florida that’s a lot of prospects that need to see a familiar face.

What the stars mean

There are 17 four stars and one five star prospect from South Florida in the ‘22 class. So what separates a four star from a five star? Being in the elite of the elite physically (tall, large, fast, powerful) and the offer sheet (Bama, UGA, Clemson, Oklahoma). According to Fox, the five star is supposed to be able to come in and start day one. That’s where Lorenzo Lingard failed at the five star billing, and where Leonard Taylor will have to get in the rotation as a freshman.

The four stars are guys that should be able to be role players as true freshman (outside of the offensive line, redshirt them unless you absolutely can’t) and work their way into a starting role or some major playing time. What separates a four from a five? The offer sheet and maybe a camp MVP performance here or there. What separates a three from a four? The offer sheet and an inch here or missed tackle there.

Typically the blend between threes and fours is so small that’s where a coaching staff can really make their money at the non-Crimson Tide level. It’s about seeing the four star in the three star, or seeing the five star in the four star. I hold a recruiting service’s numbers as important in aggregate only, individually it matters a lot less because it’s about developing those lower rated players. The bottom of the roster must be driven from lower 10% to the middle 80%, improving the baseline will lead to victories when players are injured or leave early for the NFL Draft / transfer portal.

At the end of the day, staffs have to be able to separate a three from a four using their own recruiting standards (room for growth is a big one) and by vetting the work ethic of the prospects with their high school coaches and administrators.

The South Florida Prospects in ‘22

The five stars

At this time, there are 32 five star prospects in the class of 2022. Only one is from South Florida, and that’s Pace’s Shemar Stewart. Stewart is a six-foot-five, 240 pound defensive end that’s ranked 5th overall in the ‘22 class. Stewart is a must-get prospect for Miami to join class of ‘21 defensive tackle Leonard Taylor in the front four. 247 has Stewart as a 100% lean to LSU at this time.

Why are five stars so important? Well first there are only 32 of them to go around in ‘22. The five-stars are the easiest grouping to be able to tell who will find success in both college and in the NFL. For how few there are every year, they still find strong representation as starters in the Super Bowl.

Let’s face it, there’s no way a program is winning two games in the College Football Playoff without a five star prospect. Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, and Clemson are far too loaded with top end prospects to unseat them without some top end talent of your own.

The four stars

The top-100

You don’t see another South Florida prospect on the 247 player rankings list until 70th with Marvin Jones Jr. out of American Heritage (highlights here). Jones is a four star defensive end at six-foot-four, 225 pounds. That’s thin but is there room for growth and development on his frame? Jones has long arms, uses his hands well, and runs like a track stud. My knocks on him are can he handle 20-25 more pounds in order to set the point of attack, and he is completely upright after his first two steps which will get him punched in the chest at the next level.

Hulking defensive end Kenyatta Jackson is a four star that’s the 82nd ranked player in the country. Jackson plays football at Chaminade in Hollywood, FL. He’s already listed at six-foot-five, 230 pounds.

To round out the South Florida appearances in the 247 top-100, Earl Little Jr. (highlights) sits at 98th in the class of ‘22. Little is a six-foot cornerback (length is good!) from American Heritage and a Hurricane legacy prospect. 247 has him with a strong lean to LSU. That’s one Miami has to win. As DB heavy as SF is in ‘22 losing a top-100 legacy isn’t a good look.

The four stars from 101-200

From 101-150, South Florida has linebacker Wesley Bissainthe from Miami Central (highlights), DE Dante Anderson from Homestead, and offensive tackle Julian Armella out of Columbus High School (FSU lock per 247).

From 151-200, two South Florida defensive backs make the cut. They’re cornerback Trevell Mullen from Coconut Creek and safety Alfonzo Allen from Hallendale.

The four stars from 201-350

From 201-250, there’s Francois Nolton from Edison is a defensive end that 247 has locked up to the Florida Gators, and Daniel Lyons the four star defensive tackle from Homestead. Homestead players should be locks for the Hurricanes.

From 251-300, 247 still has four star prospects in this block. Amarion Brown, the wide receiver from Martin County HS, running back Jaziun Patterson from Deerfield Beach, DE Richard Thomas from Heritage, athlete Jacoby Spells from Heritage, linebacker Travious Lathan from Gulliver Prep (lean to Florida, then FSU), and wide receiver Syveion Ellis from Edison HS.

Down in the 300’s there’s safety Jaylin Marshall to round out the South Florida four and five star prospects.

Non-South Florida top-200 prospects

Kamari Wilson, a safety ranked 20th, is a six-foot-one, 195 pound five star that Miami should really put the full court press on. Wilson is from Ft. Pierce and while Alabama is on him Miami has upped their recruiting prowess on staff with the new additions.

Linebacker Daniel Martin from Marietta, GA is s prospect for Miami to get after early. He’s a top-100 four star. Another top-100 prospect is quarterback Sam Horn. Horn is from Suwanee, GA’s Collins Hill. I’ll leave the specific breakdowns on QB’s to Roman but I like what I see above.

Miami has done well in New York City and Brooklyn linebacker Moses Walker is a four-star with no leans to the big powerhouse programs. Miami has also done well in Orlando at different times and Winter Park HS RB Terrance Gibbs is in the top-200 per 247.

The Wrap

Nick Saban and Alabama seem to have a stronghold on the South Florida private school scene, and obviously the IMG talent as well. They’re a hard program to beat out as they typically are in the College Football Playoff, they win the National Championship just slightly less often than Tom Brady wins the Super Bowl, and Saban has produced a ton of NFL talent to keep the ‘getting paid in the league’ edge.

According to 247, Miami has offered 11 QB’s, 17 RB’s, 37 WR’s, 13 TE’s, 21 OT’s, 8 guards, 2 centers, 17 DE’s, 16 DT’s, 18 LB’s, 22 CB’s, 19 safeties and 11 athletes in ‘22. I’m no math major but that offer sheet would make Southern Miss blush.

Miami rarely signs a passer from South Florida. The only one in recent memory I can recall is Jacory Harris. The ‘Canes managed to blow it with Teddy Bridgewater and Lamar Jackson.

Pro style QB AJ Duffy, a California native that attends IMG, seems to be one of the QB’s Lashlee is hot on. Also Lowndes QB Jacurri Brown (four star) and St. Thomas Aquinas QB Zion Turner (three star). Turner is the three star type the staff needs to eval and hope they have the edge on, but if Alabama wants someone from STA, they seem to get them.

Miami is going to have to get into some Florida territory where they haven’t exactly dominated in the past. Lakeland and Tampa have been typically Gator leans, while Jacksonville and Orlando have been split Florida-Florida State for some time. But there are some major prospects in those areas in ‘22, and The U needs to win those recruiting battles.

The ‘22 class has the potential to be a huge hit, or a big miss. If Miami performs on the field and the recruiters live up to their billing- this could be the class that steals guys from enemy territory like no other. Imagine getting elite prospects from Georgia, Alabama, and IMG that the Crimson Tide, Bulldogs, and Tigers normally have their reach on. That could very well be the turning point for the program.