A day after the University of Miami completed the regular season in grand fashion, Hurricanes coach Mark Richt was out mining the future.
“We’re going to recruit,” Richt said just minutes after UM’s 40-21 victory over Duke that had quarterback Brad Kaaya shattering Ken Dorsey’s all-time school passing record. “I’ll be on the road [Sunday] with everybody else and we’ll recruit until the dead period really hard. … Coaches will be recruiting like mad.”
Now that UM (8-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) is off probation and no longer under scholarship restrictions, Richt, the former Georgia coach known for his recruiting prowess, wouldn’t put a number on the amount of prospects he’s targeting to sign — 25 is the limit for any class, though early enrollees can sometimes count toward the previous year’s class.
National Signing Day is Wednesday, Feb. 1, and the next dead period is from Dec. 12 to Jan. 11, when bowls are being played.
“Between now and signing day there might be attrition for a variety of reasons, so you really don’t know for sure what your number is going to be,” Richt said, referring to possible transfers or underclassmen leaving early to enter the NFL Draft.
Besides underclassmen Kaaya and tight end David Njoku contemplating turning pro, it appears that junior running back Joseph Yearby might have already made his decision.
Yearby, the father a young daughter and son, posted Saturday night on Instagram a photo of himself with Brad Kaaya and offensive tackle Kc McDermott and these words: “Last Home Game as A Cane.”
The post later disappeared, with CanesInSight.com reporting, through sources, that Yearby “will declare for the draft” — and that junior defensive end Chad Thomas will return for his senior season.
When told of Yearby’s post and the report on Sunday, Richt said he was unaware of any Yearby news.
“I didn’t know anything about that,” Richt said, “but if that’s what he wants to do, then I’m not going to stop anybody from doing what they think is in their best interest. But I’ve not had a conversation with him and I didn’t know about that until you mentioned it.
“I haven’t heard anything about it. I’m not going to hold anybody from doing what they think is best.”
Yearby rushed for 1,002 years last season as a sophomore, but was supplanted as the starter this season by Mark Walton, who has had an excellent year, rushing 192 times for 14 touchdowns and 1,065 yards for a 5.5-yards-per-carry average.
Walton also has caught 26 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown.
Yearby was relegated to the backup role at the beginning of the season and the past few games has seen fewer touches, with Gus Edwards’ role increasing. Saturday, Yearby had one rush.
Yearby has 99 carries for 592 yards and seven touchdowns this season, a 6-yards-per-carry average. He has 65 receiving yards.
If he should leave, his career rushing numbers before the bowl game: 2,103 yards and 14 touchdowns on 376 carries, for a 5.6-yards-per-carry average.
Next year, the Canes still have tailbacks Walton, Gus Edwards, Travis Homer and Trayone Gray.
Recruiting wise, the Canes have 20 verbal commitments and are ranked 12th by rivals.com and 14th by 247sports.com.
Richt said his priority is to sign receivers, defensive backs and offensive linemen, adding that it’s important to recruit the best at all positions because you can’t assume that your commits will always stick.
The coach said the Hurricanes “need help immediately” at defensive back.
Safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter, as well as cornerbacks Corn Elder and Adrian Colbert will soon be training for the draft.
“We proved that we’re not afraid to play freshmen with the linebacking corps this year,” Richt said, “and we’ll probably get a bit of that in the defensive backfield as well.”