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Recruiting Breakdown: Running Backs

Given Johnson’s smaller stature and the fact that Miami would like to limit his carries and keep him fresh, adding a workhorse style back to the mix is one of the top priorities for the immediate future.

Joel Auerbach

The Roster:

#8 Duke Johnson (SO)

#23 Eduardo Clements (SR)

#25 Dallas Crawford (SO)

#26 Darris Hughes (SR)

#32 Danny Dillard (RS FR)

#33 Maurice Hagans (SR)

The Lowdown:

Miami has precious little depth at RB heading into the 2013 season with bit players like Eduardo Clements and Dallas Crawford behind ACC Rookie of the Year Duke Johnson. Given Johnson’s smaller stature and the fact that Miami would like to limit his careers and keep him fresh, adding a workhorse style back to the mix is one of the top priorities for the immediate future.

The Commits:

Ray Lewis III (5’9”, 175) – I decided to place Ray Lewis in this slot for the time being because he’s been a standout RB in high school and I’m not sure coaches have a set position in mind for him at the moment until they get him on campus. That said, I view Baby Ray as a pure special teamer here in the mold of LB Nantambu Fentress. He’s got enough speed to be a solid run and hit guy but I’ve never seen much upside to his game. That’s not to speak poorly about him, there’s value in those types of players. Especially if he can bring the same type of passion, drive, and team first attitude that his father always did.

The Targets:

Alex Collins (5’11”, 208) – This is the big fish. Collins obviously was committed to Miami for a majority of the process and if coaches could pick one former commit to have back, he’s probably the guy. Collins didn’t overly wow me with his JR film as I didn’t see much to separate him from other dime and dozen one-cut runners like former Cane Damien Berry. Collins SR tape is fantastic, however, with him showing even more burst and balance than before despite getting significantly bigger. On the surface it’s hard to see why FSU would take a lesser prospect with his HS teammate (QB John Franklin) unless they knew that Collins would be coming with him. That’s the big worry for Cane staffers at the moment but they are trying their hardest to get him back having seen him multiple times the last few weeks, including on his recent unofficial visit to Miami’s big basketball win last week. The Gators are also trying their hardest to make a charge here but it’s hard to see him ending up somewhere that isn’t Florida State or Miami.

Peyton Barber (5’11”, 215) – Barber is another big back in the workhorse mold that coaches are looking for. He’s long been committed to Ole Miss and it’s hard to see that changing anytime soon but Miami coaches are trying their hardest to get in the game as ace recruiter Michael Barrow has visited with Barber on multiple occasions within the last couple of weeks. Where the board sits after Collins is difficult to determine but there’s no doubt in my mind that the staff is treating him as someone near the top of the board and one of their most important backup options should Collins decide to head elsewhere.

Derrick Green (6’0”, 220) – Green’s name was the 1st to emerge as a target after the Collins decommittment but the truth is that Miami coaches had offered him long before then. Not too long ago, it appeared that Miami had a real shot to get in the mix with the rest of his top programs such as Michigan, Auburn, and Oregon as he was on the record as wanting to visit Miami and get a better feel for the program. RB coach Terry Richardson was on tap for an in-home visit with Green and his family last week before those plans fell through, not once, but twice. While Green said that it was a mix up with the dates between Miami coaches, speculation immediately turned to Miami possibly not being as interested as originally thought. I also wonder if maybe Green and his family are not as interested in Miami as they possibly had lead some to believe. Whatever the case maybe be, at this point it looks like Green is more of a follow up option than anything else as Michigan looks to be in a great position to land him unless his former rumored leader, Auburn, makes a charge on the back of hiring new HC Gus Malzahn.

David Williams (6’1”, 195) – David Williams is yet another OOS prospect that Miami has been keeping tabs on for a good portion of the process and is now getting more serious with. Williams is a slight departure from the rest of the backs Miami is looking at in the sense that he’s not as thickly build at the moment, although he does have some room to grow. Williams is more of a versatile, shifty back than a true bruising power back. South Carolina has long been his leader and all signs point to him eventually picking the Gamecocks, but Coach Terry Richardson did visit Williams a couple weeks ago and is trying to gain some ground.

Darius Tice (6’0”, 180) – A teammate of Artie Burns at Miami Northwestern HS, Tice exploded onto the scene this year to the tune of over 1,200 yards and 20 rushing TDs after being a relative unknown previously. Thus far, there is nothing out there to suggest that Miami has any real serious interest in Tice but he is someone they are keeping tabs on in case of emergency.

Looking to the Future:

Sony Michel (5’11”, 190) – Michel has been hyped as the next great Cane back even before Duke Johnson was, if you can believe that. Michel came back from an ACL this past year and was clearly not the same player he had been previously, although it does tend to be the norm for ACL tears. Michel is shaping up like an early Miami/Florida State battle although he could end up being one of those 5 star blue chippers that everyone in the country wants if he gets back to his Pre-ACL form.

Dalvin Cook (5’11”, 190) – Despite his statements that Miami is recruiting him the hardest, I am of the mindset that Cook is firm in his commitment to Clemson for the time being. Things can obviously change moving forward but he seems content to stick with them at the moment. Cook looks like he’s shaping up to be Miami’s top running back recruit for 2014 and they will battle for him until the end.

Joseph Yearby (5’9”, 190) – Cook’s teammate and current Florida State commit, Joe Yearby is a back that we haven’t seen Miami overly connected with thus far. He’s more of a bruiser and grinder than guys like Michel and Cook and that could be of keen interest to Miami if they struggle to land a workhorse style back for 2013. The departure of Eddie Gran might move the needle a bit here but Yearby is so sold on Florida State that it’s hard to see him ever ending up anywhere else.