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Miami Hurricanes change up Recruiting Strategy for 2022. Will it work?

In this cycle, Miami is building from the top down instead of bottom up. What do I mean? Let’s talk about it.

State of the U Illustration by Mike Meredith

Whether the coach was Al Golden, Mark Richt, or Manny Diaz, the Miami Hurricanes have had a pretty consistent strategy in terms of how their recruiting classes were built. Not in terms of the positions recruited; every team recruits every position every year. I’m talking in terms of WHEN each position is recruited or, better said, when a player from certain positions commits to the class.

In specific, let’s look at the Quarterback position, the most important position on the roster of every team playing the sport. Here’s when Miami’s QB recruits have committed to the Canes over the last 7 recruiting cycles:

  • 2015: Evan Shirrefs - Committed/Signed the day after NSD in February.
  • 2016: Jack Allison - Committed in June before Senior year.
  • 2017: N’Kosi Perry - 2nd commitment to Miami in March of Junior year.
  • 2018: Jarren Williams - Flipped from Kentucky in December ahead of the Early Signing Period.
  • 2019: Peyton Matocha - committed to Miami in January, days ahead of NSD.
  • 2020: Tyler Van Dyke - committed to Miami in May of his Junior year.
  • 2021: Jake Garcia - Flipped from USC to Miami at the Early Signing Period in December.

In 4 of the 7 classes listed, including 3 of the last 4, Miami has gotten their QB to commit in December or later of that given cycle. In all of those years, the QB was the cherry on top of a well built recruiting class.

With Shirrefs, he was the last of Miami’s 23 signees to pick the Canes. This came after Miami’s previous QB commit — Dwayne Lawson — decommitted from Miami because he didn’t want to sit behind true freshman starter Brad Kaaya for multiple years.

With Willliams, a long-standing commitment to Kentucky was undone with interest and offers from other P5 schools with more appeal than the Wildcats, along with Miami’s strong 2017 season — Williams visited the week of the Notre Dame ass-kicking — and that combination of factors got him to flip to Miami in December. He was among the last players to commit to Miami that cycle.

With Matocha, he was Miami’s pick at QB after the longtime single target at the positions — Michael Johnson Jr. — picked Penn State over Miami. Matocha was the last player to commit in the class, and his connection to OC Dan Enos, who had recently come over to Miami only weeks before NSD, helped bring him to Coral Gables.

With Van Dyke, Enos worked quickly after his arrival in Coral Gables to evaluate, offer, and work to get the big-armed signal caller to commit. Van Dyke committed to Miami in May of 2019, just a few months after Matocha had signed in the previous class.

With Garcia, his recruitment was well-publicized. After Picking USC over Miami as a HS junior, Garcia moved across the country from SoCal to Georgia to play his HS senior year. USC was all-in on 1, then 2, other QBs, and the connection between he and Miami grew. Garcia flipped to Miami just before the Early Signing Period in December.

In 3 of the 5 instances listed above, the QB was the last player to commit and sign in Miami’s recruiting class. And, in all 10 of Miami’s most recent recruiting classes dating back to 2013, the QB was added to the class after Miami had at least 5 players committed, and in many instances 10 or more players committed. So, the clear recruiting methodology has been to get the player Miami wants and needs at QB, but after other players have already been added to the class to build the foundation of the group as a whole.

So, the model has been clear for Miami: build a high caliber class and add a QB either along the way or at the end as the final piece to said class.

In 2018, it was “Hey, Jarren Williams, Miami is having (to that point of the process) an undefeated season and looking like The U again. That’s happening with average-at-best QB play. Miami’s in a way better spot than Kentucky, who was the first big team to offer you, but they’re not on our level. We have offensive weapons all over the field. We have a 5-star RB in this class. We have a 5-star WR in this class. We paired those players with 3 more blue chips across those 2 positions. We have the best TE recruit in America already locked in. We have another TE recruit who is an NFL legacy and will grow into his body and could end up being better than the #1 TE recruit who, again, is already in this class as well. We have 2 good OL and the best fullback in America all locked in. And that’s not even talking about the defensive recruits, who are joining one of the most dynamic units in the country.

Jarren. Come on down to the Gables. You won’t regret it”

See. Easy sell.

In 2021, it was “Hey, Jake Garcia. You’re a great prospect, but USC clearly doesn’t like you like we do. Their loss. We have 3 blue chip receivers, 2 dynamic tight ends, and 3 projectable OL recruits all locked in this class already. You’re FRIENDS with a lot of them, and are in the Miami commits group chat. On top of that, we have 2 of the best defensive recruits that have picked Miami in the last 10 years in Leonard Taylor and James Williams, so we’re building the other side of the ball to be great as well. And, we love your game. We love your talent. You’re not our fallback plan like USC. You’re our #1 guy. The best QB commit to pick Miami in 15 years. We have a full class looking for a leader, Jake. And that leader is YOU. And, with D’Eriq King leaving after the 2021 season, it’s you vs Tyler Van Dyke for the QB1 job in 2022. So, come to Miami, be a Hurricane, and bet on yourself that you will win that battle, hit the field the same time as the other guys in your class, and get Miami back to being the MIAMI HURRICANES that dominated the college football landscape and won Championships.”

Again. Super easy sell. Done and done.

That was Then, This is Now

In 2022, however, Miami is looking to completely invert that methodology in the hopes of maintaining, or exceeding, the recruiting success that the Canes have enjoyed in recent years.

After making the decision to part ways with all players who were previously committed to the program as HS juniors, the Miami Hurricanes’ most recent commitment is the only one on the list for the 2022 class at present: Valdosta (GA) Lowndes 4-star QB Jacurri Brown.

Recently selected to the Elite 11 QB camp, Brown is a high risk, high reward prospect with dynamic dual threat ability, a strong arm, a history of winning, and developing accuracy in the passing game. Far from a finished product, Brown has a sky-high ceiling for potential, and has already shown improvement as a thrower, which is the biggest area for improvement in his game.

Now, Miami has a Blue Chip QB at the top of the class, one with talent, a history of winning, and plenty of potential, and the work now begins to put the pieces around him to help the Canes continue an upward trajectory in the pursuit of wins and championships (Division, Conference, and National).

This is going to be a different sales job than in years past. There will be a lot of faith put in Brown’s potential to be the QB to lead this team to wins down the line, but that’s not the only thing Miami will be selling. But, make no mistake about it: with the QB in this class already committed, it’s the biggest thing Miami will use to sell itself on the trail this year.

“Hey (insert recruit here). We have a QB to put your faith in for the future. We have a roster with the kind of talent you can win championships with. But we’re trying to make that roster BETTER. We’re trying to take things to the next level. And to do that, we need players like you. So come to The U. Stay in South Florida. Join the tons of local guys on this roster, help build this class around the QB we’ve already got committed, and let’s get to work so we can get back to WINNING like Miami Hurricanes should.”

Miami is always going to have its own draw. The legacy and history of the program speak for themselves and will have a number of players interested in the program on that basis alone. Now, instead of selling a QB on being the final piece of the recruiting class puzzle, Miami can point to Brown as the star all other recruits should want to come play with.

Brown has already started to take a vocal role in leading this class on social media, openly recruiting other players to come join him and building relationships that will hopefully pay off with other talented players deciding to join Brown and commit to Miami. That’s great. You want to have the QB be the leader of the recruiting class.

Overall, this drastic change in the way/order that this year’s recruiting class is put together will be one of the key things to watch for Miami. Here’s hoping this paradigm change ends up being a good one.

Go Canes