In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet an athletic player who will help Miami reshape the linebacker position on the roster: Fayetteville (GA) Whitewater 4-star LB Raul “Popo” Aguirre.
In a continuing and important effort to reshape the defense overall, Miami made the move to recruit Fayetteville (GA) Whitewater LB Raul “Popo” Aguirre for the 2023 recruiting class. A 6’2” 220lb ‘backer with size and speed, Aguirre is a blue chip talent who can fit in on any roster in the country.
While he’s played his HS ball in Georgia, Aguirre is actual a Miami native. His family moved up to Georgia when Aguirre was 10, but his love for his hometown, and the flagship school that calls Miami home, was never far from his mind and heart. Aguirre started his football career at the optimist level in Miami, and that foundation helped him develop into a very impressive player.
Aguirre made his way onto the scene as a recruit of note heading into his junior season. Offers started to come in as he showcased his talents at camps (including a team camp at Miami under former coach Manny Diaz) and on the 7v7 circuit. And, a strong junior season made those offers keep coming in, and some of the best teams in the world of CFB were trying to get the talented defender on their team.
After Aguirre posted strong numbers as a junior — 80 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 sack, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery — his recruitment picked up even further. Alabama entered the fray with an offer, which itself is noteworthy. And Aguirre took multiple visits to teams atop his list. An unofficial visit to Florida was followed by Official Visits to Florida, Alabama, Texas, and Ohio State was followed in close proximity by a big move. Aguirre committed to Miami 3 weeks after his visit to Columbus. He had previously visited Miami unofficially, and would return to visit officially in November.
Following his commitment to Miami, Aguirre stepped his game up even further as a senior. He ended his season with 96 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, and 1 interception in 9 games.
Like many prospects in Miami’s 2023 class, Aguirre had a relationship with Mario Cristobal from his time at Oregon, and that relationship carried over to Miami when Cristobal made his return. And just like his coach, Aguirre looks to make his return to his hometown when he suits up for the Hurricanes in the years to come.
On the 247sports composite, Aguirre is a 4-star prospect, the #17 LB nationally, #13 in the State of Georgia, and #181 player overall in this class.
Aguirre committed to Miami over offers from Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, and Texas from a group of 17 offers from around the country.
As A Player
Aguirre is well built at 6’2” 220lbs. He has a game-ready body now, but could add some weight to his frame in college while not losing any of his athleticism. That will be key for him moving forward.
Aguirre is equally adept at flipping his hips and running with receivers from the TE position or slot as he is going forward. He’s a Swiss army knife of a defender who should be able to stay on the field for all 3 downs without a drop off in production.
On film, Aguirre shows solid instincts and good timing when getting up the field in run support or blitzing. He is also a ferocious tackler, routinely making big hits all over the field. This will be a boon in pass defense, where a solid hit can separate a receiver from the ball. And, a big hit on a run play is always invigorating for the team and player as well.
With his stature and athleticism, Aguirre could play inside or outside in college. I’d lean towards leaving him outside, where his athleticism can play up a bit more easily and spectacularly. Regardless of where he plays, Aguirre will need to become more adept at shedding block to get to the ball, something he does well at the HS level, but can be more challenging against bigger, stronger opposition at the collegiate level.
For another eval of Aguirre, here’s one from 247sports National Recruiting Expert Chris Singletary:
The 6-foot-2 220-pounds that he carries is well proportioned with no bad weight on his build. He can add some mass and get even stronger in the weight once he heads to college. Possesses some good traits and skills that translate to him being very productive.
Very good instincts with the ability to read and react to make plays. He has some suddenness as well as plus closing speed. He has nice agility and footwork that enables him to sift through the traffic to make plays. Does a nice job in coverage; he is comfortable in space and is not a fish out of water. Can find the ball when he is in man coverage where he is able to make plays and cause deflections. A physical hitter when he meets the ball carrier. Plays with patience and does a nice job of keeping leverage on the ball to play within the defense. He can avoid blocks by either punching and shedding or using the slip technique to avoid them. Solid blitzer that is very good in pursuit.
Whether he is playing off the ball or on the end of the line of scrimmage he is good in any setting. He also can be an asset on special teams once he gets to college. Three-down player that does not need to come off the field. A power-5 starter in future and a possible all-conference selection.
- Physical build
- Physical player who hits hard, often
- Coverage ability
- Block shedding
- Can add strength
It is no secret that Miami’s linebacker play needs improvement. Aguirre should be a big part of that upgrade in the years to come. He is someone who should be able to find a big role on special teams, with his role on defense to be determined by his work on the practice field.
Aguirre is the kind of LB Miami has sorely needed, and his recruiting list reads like a who’s who of elite teams around the sport. With that kind of profile and potential, the key here is continuing to do what he does well now, while improving his game as he learns Miami’s defensive system and continues to develop. Aguirre has all the tools to be a top end starter at Miami, but there are several other players on the roster and in this class who can say the same.
At a minimum, Aguirre figures to be a solid rotation player on defense. But he has the potential to be a star on defense for Miami down the line. And it will be interesting to see how he develops and performs over the next several years.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.