In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet an elite EDGE defender who figures to help Miami’s DL continue its strong run of elite play: Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy 4-star EDGE Jayden Wayne.
In the pursuit of elite athletes to upgrade the Hurricanes’ roster, Head Coach Mario Cristobal turned his attention to one of the best players in the country, and one local to his school at the time of connection: EDGE Jayden Wayne.
A 2-sport (basketball, football), 2-way standout at Tacoma (WA) Lincoln HS, Wayne made a name for himself early in his career. Wayne stepped into the spotlight as a freshman, flashing elite potential and working his way into the starting lineup midway through the year. Even though his stats were nominal — 1 catch on offense and 27 tackles with 2 sacks on defense — Wayne definitely caught the attention of coaches all over the country.
As he continued through his HS career, Wayne was a known commodity, and elite performer across the board. He had 3 catches as a sophomore, but his impact on defense — 35 tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 10 QB hurries, and a bunch more pressures and disruption in only 6 games — was what started to garner recruiting attention. Like most HS sophomores, Wayne was starting to hit recruiting camps and events and was making a big name for himself.
As I noted above, then-Oregon Ducks coach Mario Cristobal became familiar with Wayne around this time and immediately began to make the standout athlete one of his top targets in the class of 2023. Oregon was actually Wayne’s very first scholarship offer back in 2019 when the star athlete was only a HS freshman, so Cristobal and company were always in the hunt for this elite prospect.
Things stepped up on the field and in recruiting during Wayne’s junior season. A full-time two way player during the 2021 year, Wayne had 18 catches for 269 yards and 5 TDs on offense. Those were much bigger numbers than previous, but paled in comparison to his defensive statistics. Wayne became a household recruiting name with a huge season: 44 tackles, 16 TFLs, 9 sacks, 13 QB hurries in just 8 games.
For his work on the field, incredible physique, and immense potential, teams from all over the country began offering Wayne, trying to get him in the fold on their roster. But, through it all, Cristobal remained connected, and that relationship was very strong. After being named a MaxPreps HS All-American after both his sophomore and junior seasons (2nd team sophomore, 2nd team junior), Wayne began to close in on a college commitment.
But, a funny thing happened along the way: Cristobal left Oregon for Miami. And while the coaches address may have changed, his connection to Wayne did not. Miami brought Wayne to Coral Gables a couple times for visits, and things were trending in the right direction. Then, in the summer of 2022, Wayne announced his intention to transfer from Tacoma Lincoln to powerhouse IMG Academy, a boarding school with elite athletic program located in Bradenton, FL, just 2-ish hours from Miami’s Coral Gables campus. There Wayne would team up with several other Miami targets and commits, most notably OT Francis Mauigoa and TE Riley Williams. With those players all playing together, Miami’s already-strong chances with Wayne got even better.
After taking several official visits in the summer of 2022, Wayne announced the decision on his future home, committing to the Miami Hurricanes in July.
On the 247sports composite, Wayne is a 4-star prospect, the #9 EDGE nationally, #14 in the State of Florida, and #69 (nice) player overall in this class. It should be noted, however, that Wayne was a 5-star prospect through his sophomore and junior seasons, and was a 5-star rated player at the time of his commitment.
As A Player
Wayne has all the traits of a top end EDGE player. That’s why he’s been rated as such through his high school career, and why adding him to the roster is a big win for Miami. At 6’5” 245lbs, Wayne has the height, build, and length (a 6’9” wingspan) you optimally want along the line. He’s got room to add a bit of weight to his frame, and could end up in the 275lb range in a couple of years.
Wayne is adept at setting the edge in the run game, which is understandable with his frame and build. He’s not shy about engaging in contact on any play, and that will be a boon for him moving forward. Wayne is also well-practiced at engaging linemen with his hands, then disengaging them to chase after RBs and QBs on extended plays.
As a pass rusher, Wayne shows a great burst out of his stance and a quick first step, and can transition speed to power on his rushes with ease. Wayne has good but not great bend when turning the corner on OTs, but he can improve in this area as he continues to develop.
Wayne’s athleticism is a big value add to his overall profile as a prospect. Wayne played both ways back at Lakewood HS before transferring to IMG, standing out as a massive receiver for their offense as well as playing defense. Wayne figures to continue to be a plus athlete for his position moving forward, which will aid his overall development and future performance well.
Another area to note is the fact that Wayne shows a relentless motor on film. He will track down QBs on scramble drills outside the pocket, and he can be seen making tackles in run support well down the field as well. Miami has had several defenders with this kind of motor along the line in previous years, and Wayne is just the latest addition to that list.
Here’s another look at Wayne from 247sports National Recruiting analyst Chris Singletary:
Good frame to add weight and mass. As he matures and gains more strength in the weight room he will define his body composition and reach his physical peak. Already checking in at 6-foot-4 he could top out at 270 pounds in college without compromising his athleticism.
Good 1st step and burst off the ball. Gains ground and causes the tackle to be immediately stressed by his penetration. Very good pad level which gives the defender little area to strike as he is rushing the passer or playing the run. Shows a good motor and want-to in chasing plays with nice lateral movement. Good agility and quickness, he is light on his feet and is a smooth effortless player. Rips off of blocks and does a good job in pursuit. With added strength and technique improvement he has all the tools you want in an elite defensive lineman. You are exposed to how good an overall athlete he is when you watch him play wide receiver.
Wayne has a unique player that plays not only offense and defense. But a skill position as a receiver that saw him put up 18 catches 269 yards and 5 touchdowns. On the defensive end he had 44 tackles and 9 sacks. Once he is able to focus mainly on defense the sky’s the limit for him. His recruitment has seen the likes of schools from all the power conferences chasing him to be a part of their program. Once he focuses solely on playing defense his ceiling is high. I see all the skills and trait for him to ultimately have a NFL career.
- Frame to add weight
- Can add strength
- Can improve technique
- Relative age (on the older end of players in this cycle)
Wayne has the size to play early on in his collegiate career. It remains to be seen where the staff try to take his body in terms of weight and mass, but even while he’s still undergoing that journey, Wayne should be able to play as he matures physically.
While I think Wayne may take rotational snaps early in his career, he should develop into a foundational player along the defensive line in a year or two. Simply put, Wayne is too good a player, with too prototypical a build, to be “just a guy” here. For Miami to get where they want to go as a program, players like Wayne, elite, top-end talents who team around the country would love to have on their roster, have to play like it.
The sky is the limit for Wayne, but he has to do the work to get there. But regardless of statistics or anything else, it is my firm expectation that Wayne is a standout, starting player on the Miami defense for multiple years in the near future. Sure, there’s a chance this doesn’t happen, but if it doesn’t, something(s) will have gone horribly wrong, in my opinion.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.