Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Manny Diaz speaks about the future of Paradise Camp
June is one of the most important months in the recruiting calendar and the Miami Hurricanes finished it with a bang this weekend, hosting dozens of blue-chip prospects in Coral Gables for Paradise Camp 2019. Here’s what you need to konw from South Florida’s biggest recruiting event of the summer:
Miami would love for Paradise Camp 2019 to have been a preview of the future of its offense. Tyler Van Dyke, who committed to the Hurricanes in April, went back to pass eight times in seven-on-seven work and completed all eight of those attempts.
About half of those completions all went to Darnell Washington, a five-star tight end and one of Miami’s top remaining targets in the Class of 2020.
“I was trying to throw it to him a lot,” Van Dyke said Saturday.
Van Dyke put on one of the best performances ever by a quarterback and the Hurricanes’ signature summer recruiting camp. Miami sent Van Dyke out to the field at the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility with a group of its top-ranked commits and targets, and they faced a group consisting of the Hurricanes’ top defensive commits and targets. A four-star prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, Van Dyke frequently linked up with Washington, plus some fellow commitments like five-star Belen Jesuit running back Don Chaney Jr. and three-star Deerfield Beach athlete Xavier Restrepo. Van Dyke showed off his arm on a couple deep balls, but most often the senior from Suffield Academy in Connecticut was hitting Washington across the middle.
Washington stands at 6-foot-8 and 248 pounds, and made his way to Coral Gables all the way from Las Vegas, Nevada, and he put on a show. Physically, none of the best defensive backs could match up with the senior from Desert Pines, not even James Williams, a 6-5, 218-pound five-star safety from Western who is one of the Hurricanes’ top targets in the Class of 2021 after he decommitted from Miami in May.
There was no one Van Dyke was more focused in on than Washington, though. When he committed to the Hurricanes in the spring, Van Dyke said Miami wanted to position him as a recruiter for the 2020 class. At Paradise Camp, he started his work on Washington. It will continue next Sunday when Van Dyke and Washington both head to Frisco, Texas, for The Opening finals.
“Last night and then today, Darnell, just making connections with him, throwing to him,” Van Dyke said. “I was talking to him a lot after the play and stuff like that. I’ll see him next week, so I’m just going to keep talking to him, texting him because we need him.”
Van Dyke might be the perfect pitchman. The quarterback is supposed to be the leader of the offense and the senior is embracing it. Van Dyke is on track to early enroll and won’t visit any other schools between now and the early signing period.
“This is it, this is the place for me,” Van Dyke said. “This is home.”
Paradise Camp has yielded four commitments so far, although coach Manny Diaz teased another Sunday.
The weekend began with the most important bit of news for Miami. Elijah Roberts, a three-star defensive end from Columbus, is back in the Hurricanes’ 2020 class after he decommitted in the fall following a four-month pledge to the hometown team. Roberts, who is a four-star prospect in 247Sports’ own rankings, pledged to Miami on Friday at its Paradise Party at Hard Rock Stadium.
The defensive lineman had just named a top five June 3 — a list which also included the Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Florida Gators and South Carolina Gamecocks. The senior took an official visit to South Carolina last weekend, but no longer plans to take additional visits after orally committing to the Hurricanes for the second time.
Miami then bookended the actual camp Saturday with a pair of pledges.
Cortez Mckenzie, an unranked outside linebacker in the 2021 class, ushered in the camp by committing. A potential striker, Mckenzie played both linebacker and strong safety as a sophomore at St. Petersburg Lakewood and was a mostly unknown prospect before the Hurricanes offered last month. The junior only claims one other offer from the Western Michigan Broncos.
Miami closed out the camp with one final commitment from one of its newest targets. The Hurricanes just offered a scholarship to three-star tackle Chris Washington on Tuesday and managed to get a closer look at him Saturday when he worked out for offfensive line coach Butch Barry at Paradise Camp. When camp wrapped up, the offensive lineman committed to the new staff.
The senior from Nashville’s Overton announced his pledge on Twitter a bit later in the evening. Washington’s decision comes less than a month after he visited the Ole Miss Rebels and hinted he was leaning toward a commitment to the Southeastern Conference program.
On Sunday, Jacolby George brought the total up to four. An unranked wide receiver in the 2021 class, George just picked up an offer from the Hurricanes on June 7, but took his third visit with Miami for Paradise Camp. The 5-11, 155-pound junior from Plantation committed the day after the camp wrapped up.
Paradise Camp is an important evaluation day for the Hurricanes. It’s an invite-only camp, so Miami gets to pick and choose which prospects it gets to watch, which means it can see unproven prospects compete against high-level competition.
The Hurricanes offered six players throughout the weekend, including one new revelation in the 2020 cycle.
Brian Balom, an unranked safety from Miramar, was one of the 2020 standouts at the camp and it landed him an offer from Miami. Balom only held offers from two other Power Five Conference teams: the Louisville Cardinals and the Utah Utes.
Most of the offers went out to 2021 prospects, including Jordan Young, a three-star cornerback from Tampa Jesuit, and Keanu Koht, an unranked defensive end from Vero Beach. Another 2021 standout was Jake Briningstool, a four-star tight end from Ravenwood in Brentwood, Tennessee. The Hurricanes also offered Payton Page, a five-star defensive tackle from Dudley in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Miami even dipped into the Class of 2022 to offer Aaron Wilson, an unranked defensive end from Winter Garden West Orange.
With more than 100 prospects in attendance, it’s impossible to list everyone the Hurricanes got to see Saturday. Here’s a rundown of some of the most notable visitors by position. Asterisks indicate the player is already commmitted to Miami:
▪ Quarterbacks: Van Dyke, Suffield Academy*
▪ Running backs: Chaney, Belen Jesuit*
▪ Wide receivers and tight ends: Washington, Desert Pines; Restrepo, Deerfield Beach*, George, Plantation (2021)*; Leonard Manuel, Ocala Vanguard; Diego LaMonica, Gulliver Prep; Yulkeith Brown, Gulliver Prep; Kahlil Brantley, Northwestern (2021)*
▪ Offensive linemen: Washington, Overton; Jalen Rivers, Orange Park Oakleaf*; Jonathan Denis, South Dade; Antonio Smith, Ocala Vanguard*; Laurence Seymore, Central (2021)*; Michael McLaughlin, Stoneman Douglas (2021); Julian Armella, St. Thomas Aquinas (2022)
▪ Defensive linemen: Roberts, Columbus; Samuel Anaele, McDougle Technical Institute*; Willie Moise, Chaminade-Madonna*; Tre’von Riggins, Lakewood*; Westley Neal, Gulliver Prep; Savion Collins, Southwest (2021)*; Dante Anderson, Southridge (2022); Francois Nolton, Miami Christian (2022); Shemar Stewart, Monsignor Pace (2022)
▪ Linebackers: Alvin Mathis, Largo*; Ruben Hyppolite II, McArthur; Branden Jennings, Jacksonville Sandalwood (2021); Tyler Johnson, South Dade (2021)*; Cortez Mckenzie, Lakewood (2021)*
▪ Defensive backs: Avantae Williams, DeLand; Ladarius Tennison, Rockledge; Jaiden Francois, South Dade*; Justin Hodges, Western*; Marcus Clarke, Winter Park, Brian George, Highland (Kansas) Community College
▪ Specialists: Andres Borregales, Chaminade-Madonna (2021)*
The Hurricanes also hosted a pair of official visitors who couldn’t participate in the camp.
Keshawn Lawrence, a four-star safety, made his way down from Nashville’s Ensworth for his second official visit. He took his first with the LSU Tigers in April and is also considering South Carolina, Ole Miss and the Tennessee Volunteers.
The other official visitor was Dazalin Worsham, a four-star wide receiver committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide. The senior from Hewitt-Trussville in Trussville, Alabama, committed to the Crimson Tide in April.