In this piece I am going to compare the 2021 recruiting class with which former Hurricanes I think they resemble the most. The 3 main components that I used to try and find the best match: attitude, style of play, size, and of course skillset. Some player comparisons come from as early as the 90’s, and some come from as recent as last year. I also included our transfer players in this article as they are also first year players at Miami.
Jake Garcia: Gino Toretta
Excluding D’Eriq King who was a transfer, Garcia is arguably the best QB Miami has had since Ken Dorsey. Toretta and Garcia both stand about 6’2.5/6’3 and share similar physical traits. Not exactly duel threat, but at the same time not statues, they are both great passers with strong-arm accuracy. Toretta won 2 titles at Miami and passed for over 6,000 yards in just two years. He was a 7th round pick in the NFL draft but I would bet on Garcia going in the top 2 rounds once his time comes. Also, Garcia is a California native and history shows that Miami’s best quarterbacks come from outside the state of Florida.
Elijah Arroyo: Chris Herndon
Arroyo has a chance to be a special player. He stands 6’4 and weighs about 215 pounds right now but will easily be 230 by next season. Herndon is the comparison but I think Arroyo might be faster and have better hands. Another TEU product in the making. Arroyo is originally from Florida but spent his high school career in Texas.
Chase Smith: Ray Ray Armstrong
This was a hard one to project being the striker position is very new at Miami and for that reason there is not many players to compare with. If Armstrong played on Miami in 2021, I’d bet he would be at the striker spot. Both are tall physical players, Armstrong was about 6’3 220 pounds at Miami while Chase Smith is currently 6’4 210 as a true freshman. Ray Ray was physical but not as pure as a safety and ended up moving to Linebacker in the NFL. Smith looked great in the spring game and moves more fluently than Armstrong off first glance. Smith has a chance to be special at the striker spot and will likely see some playing time this year.
Kamren Kinchens: Jaquan Johnson
Jaquan Johnson who played at Miami from 2015-2018, was a very underrated player. Both Johnson and Kinchens are similar in size with Kinchens being slightly bigger. Not the most athletic guys, but pure football players. Tackling machines, instinctive, and also solid in coverage. Johnson was second team All-American in 2017 and a 2x second team All-ACC player in 2017 and 2018. Johnson was a fan favorite when he played and I think Kinchens will be as well. Kinchens seems to be adjusting quickly to college ball which certainly is a great sign.
Thomas Davis: Trent Harris
A tough one here as the staff has Davis playing DE right now at only 6’2 220 pounds. I figure Trent Harris was the perfect comparison. Sort of an undersized DE but very good speed rusher. Harris was 6’2 250 pounds and Davis will probably be around the same size when fully developed. Harris had 8.5 sacks his senior year at UM. Look for Davis to get plenty special teams reps in 2021 until he grows into a defensive end.
Deshawn Troutman: Nate Webster
This comparison is mostly based off pure attitude and toughness. Webster was 6’0 weighing 230 and Troutman stands 6’1 weighing in at 210 currently. Webster was fast, instinctual, and absolutely fearless player, a guy who really didn’t have any regard for his own body. Called “a mad man” by former teammates. That is Deshawn Troutman in a nutshell. If you watched Troutman’s high school film you will see those traits as he averaged close to 10 tackles per game and strikes ball carriers with force. I watched Troutman closely in the spring game and he was fast and instinctual. Get ready to hear his name a lot in coming years.
Andres Borregales: Jose Borregales
No better comparison than his older brother Jose who won the Groza award at UM just last year. Some say Andres can be even better. Andres connected on all his kicks in the spring game. We came a long way since Bubba Baxa missing 20 yarders.
Leonard Taylor: William Joseph
The highest ranked player in Miami’s class. I landed on William Joseph as my best comparison for big Leonard Taylor. Joseph was 6’5 and 310 pounds which is exactly the same size Taylor is as a freshman currently, which means he will probably end up being slightly bigger. Joseph was a tall, physical presence on Miami’s DL in the early 2000’s and was a first round pick in 2003. Taylor’s best attribute is how athletic he is at his size, the former basketball player has pick sixes on his highlight film while playing defensive tackle... If Taylor lives up to expectations, he will hear his name called in the first round as well.
James Williams: Kenny Phillips
Some people think Williams could move positions at UM due to his size, but as of now he is a safety so I will compare him to safeties. I know everyone was likely expecting me to compare him to Sean Taylor, but personally I will never compare any player to Taylor (unless proven first). Phillips was the #1 safety in his recruiting class and so was Williams. James is a rare athlete that stands 6’5 and weighs 220 pounds as a true freshman. Unless Miami has had a safety taller than 6’5 weighing upwards of 220 pounds in the past that I don’t know of, Williams will be the biggest safety Miami has ever had. In fact, he would probably be the biggest safety that most college programs have ever had. You just don’t see safety’s that big. This kid is taller than Kam Chancellor and probably will end up around the same weight as him. The scariest part is he moves fluently like a cornerback. He has potential to be a great player. I went with Kenny Phillips as the comparison because they are both taller and physical safeties with good ball skills and tackling ability. Phillips started as a true freshman at Miami and ended up being a first round pick. James can do the same, if not better.
Romello Brinson: Horace Copeland
Another old school comparison, Copeland stood 6’3 and weighed 200 pounds, a tall lankier WR who had tremendous speed. I see a lot of those attributes in Brinson. Once Brinson fills out his frame I project him to be a starter at Miami and have a great career. A super smooth, fast, and precise route runner at his height that could be a very high NFL draft pick one day. Miami has been lacking taller wide receivers in recent years that are able to do a little bit of everything on the field, Brinson will break that cycle.
Jacolby George: Daryl Jones
I see so many similarities between these guys. Both are smaller playmakers with great speed and shiftiness. Jones was overshadowed by his counterparts Andre Johnson, Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey but made plays when called upon. George probably won’t be WR1 given his size, but will serve as a good WR2 or WR3 option down the road.
Brashard Smith: Roscoe Parrish
Smith is another unique player that Miami has not really seen in the past. Smith is a WR that could probably play as a hybrid RB as well. If we were doing general comparisons, I would use Tyreek Hill as my choice. Smith is about 5’8-5’9 and weighs 190 pounds and is an absolute speed demon. I compared him to Parrish for size and versatility reasons. Parrish was a smaller guy but it didn’t matter because you could rarely touch him. He played WR and returned punts and Miami and I can see Smith doing the same. The biggest difference is Smith is much stockier than Parrish, as Parrish was about 175 and Smith goes 190.
Kahlil Brantley: Brevin Jordan
Brantley is a unique tight end prospect as he is only about 6’2 215 pounds right now. Luckily I didn’t have to go back to far for this comparison. Brantley and Jordan are both undersized tight ends that are way above average runners with the ball in their hands. As we all know, Jordan is better than many of the tight ends taken before him in the draft. Brantley has a firey attitude and is a competitor just like Jordan was and he has wanted to be a Hurricane his whole life. Brantley committed to Miami on February 8th, 2019 and never wavered on his choice.
Laurence Seymour: Martin Bibla
Seymour is undersized, but he is an extremely physical player who plays with an attitude on every play, which is why he was such a highly ranked recruit. A lot of big time college programs wanted Seymour on their team, especially Georgia. For the comparison, I went with Martin Bibla. Bibla was first team all Big-East in 2001 on college football’s best team ever. He was drafted in the 4th round of the NFL draft.
Jabari Ishmael: Baraka Atkins
Ishmael comes into Miami standing 6’5 and weighing 220 pounds. He will easily grow into his body with weight training. Baraka Atkins was a solid player at Miami who was 6’4 265 and finished his career with 7 sacks, which might seem low, but Atkins thrived in run support and had 17 tackles for loss in just 2 seasons. 12 in his senior year alone. Ishmael has untapped potential, and once he fills out he will be a force.
Ryan Rodriguez: Brett Romberg
Romberg earned All-American honors at Miami during his time there. Rodriquez has very similar attributes to Romberg being they are not the biggest guys for offensive lineman, but it would be hard to find somebody tougher. Then again, centers aren’t usually the biggest guys on the offensive line. Rodriquez is 6’3 270 currently and Romberg stood 6’2 weighing 295 at the end of his college career. After Gaynor leaves, I expect Rodriguez to hold down the center position for the next 3-4 years.
Michael McLaughlin: Eric Winston
Coming out of high school, Winston was actually a highly ranked tight end out of Texas who stood at 6’7. McLaughlin spent his HS career at tackle standing 6’7 at about 260 pounds but is currently around 300, which is a massive weight gain in a short period of time, which shows he is growing into his frame quickly. Miami moved Winston to Offensive Tackle once he started gaining weight and it worked out perfectly. McLaughlin will be a work in progress but the potential is there.
Thad Franklin: Javarris James
Watching tape, Franklin is very similar to Javarris James size wise and running style wise. Both stand 6’0 and weigh 220 pounds or higher. Not the shiftiest guys, but not completely stiff by any means. James had a quietly good career at Miami accounting for 2665 total yards with 19 touchdowns. I think Thad Franklin and James could have very similar careers in college, and I think Franklin might have better breakaway speed than James did.
Tyler Johnson: Sean Spence
Tyler, who is Jaquan Johnson’s younger brother, is a physical player that in my opinion resembles a Sean Spence. Spence was an undersized and fast linebacker and had a tremendous football IQ. If Tyler is anything like his brother Jaquan was, he will have a role in the coming years. Tyler is a bit undersized right now at 6’2 200 pounds, but he will easily grow into a 220 pound type guy by next season, and word around town is he has a violent attitude when on the field. As for this season, I could see him having a role on special teams coverage as a true freshman.
Malik Curtis: Travis Benjamin
When you watch Curtis’ high school film, you’d think it was Travis Benjamin. Not only do they look alike with the long hair flowing, but they actually have the exact same running style as well. Both have slender frames with elite/effortless speed and easily blow past defenders without really breaking a sweat. Curtis also has a great chance to be returning kicks and punts at Miami one day just like Benjamin did. Benjamin finished his career at Miami with 14 TD’s and is still having a solid NFL career today. Curtis was one of the most underrated players in the 2021 class, he thrived at a few different positions for his high school team.
Alan Haye: Curtis Porter
Porter was sort of a role player at Miami throughout his career. I project Haye to be a solid backup at the next level and be able to fill in when necessary. His ceiling is higher than Porter’s was and he is quicker.
Cody Brown: Tyrone Moss
Even though Moss was much shorter than Brown, both are heavy and physical backs that no defender wants to tackle. Moss had sneaky good speed for being 220 pounds, and amazingly, Cody Brown ran track in high school at 6’0 230 pounds. Moss finished his career at Miami with 1987 total yards and 26 touchdowns. The Canes pulled Brown away from Tennesse’s class after Brown asked to be released from his letter of intent. Brown was ranked as a top 10 back in the 2021 class. Rest in peace to our guy Tyrone Moss.
Tyrique Stevenson: Antrel Rolle
Antrel Rolle is a big name to live up to, but remember, this doesn’t guarantee that Stevenson is going to BE the next Rolle, it is just comparisons based off of their attributes. Rolle was another rare athlete who could play corner back and safety, and do either one at an elite level. Does Tyrique have the potential to do this? I think so. It’s no secret Stevenson’s natural spot is at safety, which is what he will likely be playing in the NFL, just like Rolle did. Rolle and Stevenson are the exact same size, standing 6’0 and weighing 205 pounds. Both are big, physical, and athletic defensive backs. Rolle also returned some punts in his time at Miami and it looks like Stevenson is in line to do the same this year. The big question is will Stevenson be able to find his footing at cornerback like Rolle did? The potential is certainly there.
Charleston Rambo: Lamar Thomas
Rambo and Thomas are both slender and have elite straight line speed. Rambo is 6’1 weighing 185 pounds and Thomas was about 6’1-6’2 weighing 175 pounds. Thomas made some acrobatic catches during his time at Miami and finished with 23 touchdowns on 2310 total yards. Rambo is also good at catching passes in traffic and showed that in the spring game and both Thomas and Rambo both have elite speed. Rambo could very well lead the team in receiving this season. He adds much needed help in the WR room transferring over from Oklahoma.
Deandre Johnson: Quincy Roche
Didn’t have to go too far back in history for this comparison. Roche will likely be a standup rushing outside backer at the next level. Johnson was a rushing outside backer at Tennessee but will be a true 4-3 at Miami, which is what Roche was. Both are undersized, but big and physical enough to get to the quarterback. Johnson looked solid in the spring game.