Mark Richt weighs in on how recent losses have affected recruiting
Losing spells trouble for college football recruiting — so much so that University of Miami coach Mark Richt said Tuesday that struggling teams give others reasons to pour fuel on “what they consider a fire’’ and it “can get in a kid’s head.’’
That has become increasingly clear in Coral Gables, as the Canes (5-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) have had two in-state high school seniors decommit in the past week after UM losses to Virginia, Boston College and Duke.
Also on the recruiting front, recruiting website 247Sports reported Tuesday that the Hurricanes have reached out to former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant, who is seeking a graduate transfer opportunity and will have one season of eligibility left.
Bryant, who has one year of eligibility remaining, could play immediately next season. He led Clemson to the College Football Playoff in 2017, torching the Hurricanes with 252 passing yards and a touchdown in the ACC title game, a 38-3 blowout, en route to the CFP semifinal. He threw for 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns, while completing 65.8 percent of his passes. He also ran for 665 yards and 11 touchdowns.
UM is one of several major programs vying for Bryant. But at this point, with two quarterbacks struggling and a starter still in question, the Hurricanes are trying to recover in time for their road trip to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech (5-4, 3-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“I haven’t figured that part out yet,’’ Richt said Tuesday, when asked if he plans to play both Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry against the Yellow Jackets. “But it would be tougher just to start rocking and rolling guys in. I think we’ll probably have to just stick to whoever becomes the starter.’’
UM’s on-field problems have spilled onto the recruiting trail with their 2019 class down to 17 commitments. The class is now ranked No. 22 in the 247Sports composite rankings, and No. 24 in the Rivals rankings.
The first player to recently decommit, three-star Jacksonville Trinity Catholic running back Marcus Crowley — who already has 1,550 yards and 20 touchdowns rushing in 10 games — flipped from UM to Ohio State on Sunday after he took an official visit to OSU this past weekend.
The next player to decommit, three-star Miami Palmetto safety Cornelius Nunn— who originally pledged his allegiance to UM less than three weeks ago — still hasn’t made a decision on where he intends to play.
“Guys have decommitted, a couple,’’ Richt said, when asked Tuesday how tough it is to manage recruiting with the three-day early signing period for the 2019 signing class beginning Dec. 19. “It’s not all that uncommon. You look around the country there’s people committing, decommitting. But certainly, when you’re struggling and people have got some fuel to pour on what they consider a fire, they can get in a kid’s head.
“So, we’ve got to do a good job of just staying in contact with them and letting them know everything is going to be OK. That’s certainly something that’s got to be managed and we’re staying on top of it.’’
Additionally, four-star offensive tackle Michael Tarquin and three-star guard Kingsley Eguakun, both committed to the U, have visited top Southeastern Conference schools this fall.
UM defensive players and coordinator Manny Diaz were asked Tuesday about the recent decommitments.
“If you’re mad that we took a couple of losses then that lets me know that you’re trying to ride the wave of other teams,’’ said senior cornerback Michael Jackson. “Because when were winning, everybody wanted to be a part of us. Now that we’re losing, don’t nobody want to be around...”
“You can decommit to us and go to another and they’ll be losing. So, then what are you going to do? You going to transfer once a team loses two, three games?”
Diaz acknowledged that “decommitments are the new normal, right?”
“Every team in the country is dealing with decommitments whether you’re winning all your games [or not],’’ Diaz said “We had decommitments last year and we were No. 2 in the country... We all know that success is not linear. We wish it was.”
▪ Starting running back Travis Homer did not practice Tuesday after straining his left calf, according to Richt, who said he expects Homer to play Saturday.