Consenus five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard, one of 10 early enrollees and 23 2018 signees at the University of Miami, had an intriguing description last week of his relationship with coach Mark Richt.
“I met him in eighth grade,” Lingard told University of Miami broadcaster Joe Zagacki in a series of videos of some of the new Hurricanes, who haven’t yet met with the media. “Our relationship was tight from the start. His demeanor and the way he goes about himself is pretty much set aside from all the other coaches I’ve met.
“So, it was just like a ball of light from me to him. … Having him as my coach is a blessing.”
Fellow early enrollee Jarren Williams, the only #Storm18 quarterback to sign with the Hurricanes, is also enamored with Richt.
“We have a great relationship,” Williams told Zagacki. “The first time I met him it just hit me. He’s just a very genuine guy. He really cares about the player. He doesn’t just look at it [from] a business standpoint. He actually looks at it like he wants to help us develop as young men. And that’s just something that’s big to me, that really hits home with me.”
UM loves Williams’ intelligence and the fact that he wasn’t error-prone at Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He completed 214 of 348 passes for 3,015 yards, 28 touchdowns and only four interceptions in 10 games this past season, per MaxPreps.com. He also ran for 554 yards.
“Taking care of the football, that’s very important in playing this position,” Williams said in his video, adding that “being smart and just being a manager of the game” were integral.
Williams explained that some listed him as a dual-threat quarterback, “but describing myself I would say I’m a pocket passer with the ability to extend plays with my feet. So, if the play breaks down I can get away. But I’m a pass-first guy.”
Mark Richt agreed last Wednesday on National Signing Day, calling Williams “a very mature guy with a very good ability to pass the ball.”
Williams, Richt said, “is more of a pocket passer who can run than the other way around. Him being here for spring ball is going to be huge.”
National recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said Williams is a more natural pure passer than soon-to-be redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry, who will compete with Williams and current starter Malik Rosier during the spring.
Williams said it was important to be an early enrollee so he could get acclimated to school and get his classes situated. “Also, just getting into the playbook so I could have a chance to get on the field early.”
Williams told Zagacki the Hurricanes are “loaded’’ with offensive talent.
“Like you said, there’s so much speed — so much speed. You’ve got Jeff [Thomas], Mike [Harley]. You’ve got guys in my class coming in. We’re loaded.”
One of those talents is wide receiver Daquris “Dee” Wiggins, who is thin at 175 pounds but has great length at 6-3 and is from a school, Miami Southridge, that also signed five-star receiver Mark Pope and offensive lineman Delone Scaife Jr.
“It’s been great,” Wiggins told Zagacki last week. “Nothing but responsibility and discipline.”
He was asked about the importance of playing for his hometown.
“Very important,” Wiggins said. “Why not win a championship for home? Why go somewhere else? Why not put on for my home city?”
Wiggins is rated as a four-star prospect by ESPN.com and three-star from 247Sports and Rivals.com. He said the recruiting class has “a little group chat” going, “so everybody likes to talk to each other. We’re getting to know each other well.”
Wiggins also played at Killian High, where safeties Sheldrick Redwine and cornerback Jaquan Johnson graduated, in ninth and 10th grades.
“Instant bonding,” Wiggins said. “That’s a blessing. I’m ready for sure. I’m working hard in the weight room, working hard conditioning. I’m putting my all into it.’’
One of the most impressive #Storm18 signees is 6-0, 195-pound Lingard, the Gatorade Florida Player of the Year who was rated the No. 2 tailback in the country by 247Sports. An Army All-American out of Orange City University High, Lingard rushed for 1,701 yards on 207 carries and scored 26 touchdowns this past season.
He also is a track star, having won the Florida state 4A title in the 110-meter hurdles.
“He’s a phenomenal football player,” UM running backs coach Thomas Brown said of Lingard. “He’s not just talented, he works like it. He’s a very unselfish, team-oriented type guy, which is hard to find these days with elite players. Loyalty was a big thing with him. He was recruited by everyone in the country, and once he committed, he didn’t step foot on any other campus.”
Lingard told Zagacki he wants “to be an impact player and come in to college football and just live the dream.”
Is his knack for scoring touchdowns instinctual? Zagacki asked.
“I would say it’s always been a part of my game,” Lingard said. “[It’s] just a determination I have to get into the end zone.”
That’s good news for the Hurricanes, who last season ranked 59th nationally in scoring offense, averaging 29.1 points a game — down from 34.3 points averaged in 2016.
“I’ve always wanted to play on a dominant, elite team,” Lingard said.
The Hurricanes, who lost star running back Mark Walton to the NFL Draft, could become just that if Lingard thrives like he did in high school.