In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a speedy and dynamic playmaker capable of scoring from anywhere on the field any time he touches the ball: Miami (FL) Edison 4-star WR Nathaniel “Ray Ray” Joseph.
Miami needs to upgrade and improve the offense, particularly its ability to create explosive plays. In an effort to add explosiveness to the field, the Canes targeted a variety of players. But, for the longest time, Miami (FL) Edison WR/return man Nathaniel “Ray Ray” Joseph wasn’t among them.
Starting his career at Miami (FL) Christian, Joseph has long been one of the fastest players on any field he’s playing on. Playing for the small private school, Joseph began showing his skills on varsity as an 8th grader. Even then, it was clear that Joseph’s speed and elusiveness were special.
After a couple strong years at Miami Christian, Joseph made the move over to Miami Edison. He continued to be a standout player, he continued to make highlight reel plays, he continued to be a dynamic player for the nation’s best 7v7 team — South Florida Express — and he continued to light up the track in the offseason with his electric speed. And, all the while, Miami continued to ignore him in the world of recruiting.
The reason why Miami ignored Joseph, a lifelong Canes fan who desperately wanted a UM scholarship offer, are clear: former coach Manny Diaz thought Joseph was too small to play at this level. Despite attending multiple camps and unofficial visit days, Diaz and company were firm in their evaluation of Joseph, and with that door closed, the dynamic speedster had to look elsewhere for a college home. And, in short order, he found one.
In Clemson, South Carolina.
Unlike Diaz and company, Dabo Swinney and staff saw Joseph for what he is: an explosive offensive weapon who can find the endzone on any play. Sure, there are size concerns, but those are far outweighed by the value added by Joseph’s playmaking and speed. So, without Miami entering the fray to oppose them, Clemson got Joseph to commit to the Tigers in September of 2021. And things seemed set: yet-another South Florida native would go away for college, taking their prodigious talents elsewhere to help another team at the expense of Miami.
Like I said, everything seemed set for Joseph. That is, until Mario Cristobal left Oregon to become Miami’s Head Coach.
Pretty immediately upon his arrival in Coral Gables, Cristobal set about undoing the damage Diaz’s staff had done regarding Joseph. Understanding the need for speed on the roster, Cristobal zeroed in on getting Joseph to flip his commitment and stay home in Miami. Joseph began a string of secret unofficial visits to Coral Gables — Clemson infamously doesn’t allow players committed to the Tigers to visit other schools — and the connection between Joseph and the Canes (sans Diaz) grew.
Though Joseph took an unofficial visit to Clemson in January (shortly after Cristobal was hired as Miami’s coach, might I add) and an official visit to Clemson in June, the Tigers were unable to hold onto his commitment. Joseph decommitted from Clemson just a week after taking his OV there, and immediately, the clock started on him fulfilling his lifelong dream of being a Cane and flipping to Miami.
Louisville, powered by a new and deep pocketed NIL collective, tried to play spoiler in this Miami love story. The Cardinals were also connected to Joseph in the early part of 2022, and got him on Campus the week before he visited Miami. There was a legit chance for Louisville to close the deal with Joseph, but they were recruiting against Mario Cristobal, and he simply wasn’t going to let that happen.
After taking a final official visit to Miami on June 24th, Joseph announced his commitment to his dream school when he picked Miami on June 28th.
Dream come true Committed ‼️‼️ @unclelukereal1 @coach_cristobal @Coach_Gattis @dtrain2901 @miamiedison_fb @RolandSmithJr4 pic.twitter.com/73HrAfD8wk— ⁵ ™ (@rayraythaboy) June 28, 2022
On the 247sports composite, Joseph is a 4-star prospect, the #19 WR nationally, #30 in the State of Florida, and #129 player overall in this class.
Joseph committed to Miami after flipping his commitment from Clemson, with Louisville being the other finalist from a strong list of 35 offers from around the country.
As A Player
The main thing to know about Ray Ray Joseph is that he’s real deal, serious, “OMG” fast. A legit 4.3 player, Joseph’s speed makes him a threat to score from anywhere on the field anytime he touches the ball. This is is best trait, and one that the Canes need badly. In addition to incredible straight line speed, Joseph has plenty of wiggle, showing the ability to make guys miss in the open field.
At only 5’8” 170lbs, Joseph is both small and light for a receiver. He shouldn’t be more than about 180lbs, but his height is something that both kept Miami from recruiting him previously, and something he’ll just have to deal with, and the team will have to scheme around. Throwing Joseph bubble screens or mismatch seam routes? Yes. Throwing him jump ball fades in the red zone? Nooooooo.
Joseph is a masterful technician from the slot. He runs great routes, and is able to create space against Man or Zone coverage. Teams are hesitant to play press coverage against Joseph, because if (when) he beats his man off the line, it’s only a matter of time until he’s celebrating in the end zone.
Much like Brashard Smith who is already on Miami’s roster, Joseph can be used out of the backfield as well. He can run the ball or catch it out of the backfield. Joseph is a nightmare matchup for a linebacker in coverage, and this additional way of getting him the ball can and will be a big value add to Miami’s offense.
Joseph’s speed and elusiveness can also be seen on kick and punt returns. Again, the mantra is simple: put speed in space and watch it work. And trust me, Joseph does work on returns. He can be Miami’s version of Isaiah “Joystick” McKenzie in this area of the game, and that’s a big step in the right direction for the Canes.
Here’s another look at Joseph from 247sports Director of Scouting Andrew Ivins:
A playmaking slot receiver with an elite burst that doubles as a dangerous return man. Can attack the flats and turn short little drive routes into long gains. Ability to quickly start/stop makes it difficult for defenders to corral him. Makes up for his smaller catch radius with his overall feel for the position as he understands how to beat zone coverage and work for his quarterback. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder and owns rather reliable hands. Not much context available when it comes to top-end speed, but was able to break 4.2 in the short shuttle the spring before his junior season and has outran plenty of talented defenses under the lights down in South Florida. Has experience lining up in the backfield and could be utilized on jet sweeps or quick swing passes following pre-snap motion. Will need to develop some core strength once he reaches the next level as it won’t be as easy to slip away from college-sized linebackers and safeties. Should, however, emerge as a multi-year contributor for a Power 5 program given how he changes directions and releases from the inside. Likely to compete for a spot right away on both punt and kick return.
- Speed. Speed. SPEED.
- Short area quickness
- Change of direction
- Lithe physical build
- Limited catch radius
- Relative Age for class
Miami needs playmakers on offense in the worst way, so the door is open for Joseph to find his way onto the field early. At a minimum, Joseph should be in the conversation for starting punt returner and kick returner roles the minute he sets foot on campus.
In a perfect world, Joseph is the 3rd or 4th option in the passing game, and a lethal weapon in the return game. There’s a ceiling on his numbers on offense, but his impact as an explosive play waiting to happen at any moment make him someone who should have a solid impact on the team in his career in Miami.
Given the opportunity, Joseph should be the dynamic return man Miami hasn’t had in nearly 20 years. And, he should be a valuable offensive weapon who creates highlights with his speed and wiggle throughout his career. If he earned placement on any All-Conference teams, that would be a bonus, but overall he should be a solid contributor for several years, with a chance to potentially move on to the NFL if things break the right way for him.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.