University of Miami football coach Mark Richt, whose Hurricanes recruiting class has lost two former commitments since Sunday, said Tuesday that he will “fight to the very end.’’
“There are still a lot of really good players that are out there and are trying to decide what to do,’’ Richt told WQAM’s Joe Rose before a news conference at Yankee Stadium to promote the Pinstripe Bowl, where the Canes (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) will face Wisconsin (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) on Dec. 27. “The decommitment thing is something happening all over America, and it’s just part of the recruiting. We know as coaches you just keep recruiting hard and fight to the very end. And in the end we’re going to get who we need.’’
The early signing period begins Dec. 19 and runs through the 21st.
The Canes have three-/four-star defensive tackle Jason Blissett, 6-4 and 280 pounds, out of Brooklyn Poly Prep, committed and set to sign early. Another Brooklyn-based recruit, 6-5, 210-pound four-star defensive end Adisa Isaac out of Canarsie High, is considering the Hurricanes, as well as teams such as Penn State and Syracuse, and plans to make a decision by the early signing period.
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The two offensive linemen who decommitted since Sunday are four-star tackle Michael Tarquin and three-star guard Kingsley Eguakun — both flipped their commitments to the Florida Gators.
“The swamp is where I belong,’’ Tarquin posted on social media Monday, also expressing to UM that he is “grateful for all the hospitality and generosity they have showed my family and I... .I planned on the U being my home, but I continued to fall back on the dream I have had ever since I was young, which was to be a Florida Gator.’’
The Canes, who now only have two oral commits on offense for 2019, fell to No. 37 in the Rivals.com 2019 recruiting class rankings and to No 29 in the 247Sports rankings. They have 11 commitments on defense.
When asked by Rose if coaches keep recruiting a valued player hard, even if he has committed to another school, Richt said, “Yeah they do. They do.
“I think it’s more of the kid. If a guy commits and he’s a guy you’re working hard and a guy you want and he commits to another school, you just try to test the water as far as how serious is his commitment.
“‘Do you want us to stop talking to you?’’’ Richt said a team might tell a player who decommits or pledges to another team. “‘Oh no, we want you to keep talking.’
“‘Will you still take a visit?’ ‘Oh yeah, I’ll still take a visit.’
“You try to gauge how strong a commitment is and if you think the guy is just rock solid, no one wants to waste their time. On the other hand, if you think there’s still some life in it, you keep going because you just never know what’s going to happen over time. You gotta be in position to land these guys even though they may be committed to another school.”
So, what are Richt’s thoughts as he heads down the recruiting stretch?
“There are a lot of guys that we still have committed, a lot of guys that we believe will sign on the early signing date,’’ he told WQAM. “We have a couple more official visits this weekend and next weekend for a lot of those guys. One of the good things about the early signing date is you kind of know where you stand with a lot of guys. And you know where you’ve got to go. There are a lot of really good players that you look at throughout the process and you offer X amount and you get commitments and then you start slowing down on some other guys and then you get a decommit and all of a sudden you’re trying to get back in the game.’’
The coach acknowledged that “winning always helps’’ in recruiting. “There’s no doubt about that. But also,’’ he said, “it is really about the relationships these guys have with you as the head coach and the position coaches. The University of Miami sells itself in a lot of ways. So, I think it’s still a lot about, ‘Hey, where do I fit? Do I trust you? Do I feel like I can get developed in every area of my life here?’
“You’ve got parents that still want the basics. ‘Take take care of my son and help him get his education. Help him become the best player and person he can be.’ Most parents, that’s all they want out of it. They want to have a trust factor that you’re going to be there for their son. Obviously, momentum is key in football games, football seasons and even in recruiting. And winning helps for sure. “