University of Miami

The top O-lineman in Dade is impressed by Butch Barry, plus more UM recruiting updates

UM coach Manny Diaz on Mark Richt, and recruiting in the state of Florida.

Miami Hurricanes football coach Manny Diaz talks about former coach Mark Richt and recruiting in the state of Florida.
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Miami Hurricanes football coach Manny Diaz talks about former coach Mark Richt and recruiting in the state of Florida.

With his last chance to visit a college program before the August dead period, Issiah Walker Jr. decided not to venture far from home.

The four-star tackle from Norland is maybe the Miami Hurricanes’ top remaining target — and certainly their top remaining local target — in the Class of 2020, so they made sure to get Walker down to Coral Gables on Wednesday to watch Miami’s sixth practice of fall camp in person.

Walker has spent plenty of time on campus in the past few months, whether it was to watch spring practices or take part in camps, and it has fostered a strong relationship with Butch Barry. Walker simply enjoys watching the offensive line coach work.

“I really like to see Coach Barry coach,” Walker said Saturday at the Miami Dolphins’ high school football media day at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. “He really knows what he’s talking about. He’s been in the NFL for like seven years.”

Walker, who grew up a Hurricanes fan and whose father played for the Florida State Seminoles, backed off from a longtime commitment to the South Carolina Gamecocks last month and said the three major in-state programs — the Florida Gators Florida State and Miami — are the three schools coming after him hardest.

He visited all three throughout July, attending a Seminoles camp and unofficially visiting Florida twice before getting back down to South Florida for his unofficial visit with the Hurricanes on the last day before the dead period began.

The No. 158 overall prospect in the composite rankings, Walker is in no rush to make a final decision, although he is on track to early enroll at the school of his choice. All three in-state schools are making Walker feel like a top priority.

If Miami is able to keep Walker home, it will be primarily because of what Barry has proven he is capable of.

Walker got some one-on-one attention from the position coach last time attended a Hurricanes camp in June and he said he has already put some of what he learned to use on the practice field.

In particular, Barry has helped Walker better understand a short-step run block technique, which he has added to his arsenal in practices this year in Miami Gardens.

“He has good technique coaching. I can really use that. I used it in the jamboree and in practice every day, so it works almost every day,” Walker said. “It all seems to work.”

Walker was one of dozens of Miami targets, either uncommitted or committed elsewhere, to spend Saturday in Miami Gardens for the annual media day. Here’s the latest on some of those prospects the Hurricanes are targeting for the 2020 recruiting cycle:

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Westley Neal still has Miami, the Indiana Hoosiers and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights as his top three. The three-star defensive tackle from Gulliver Prep attended Paradise Camp in June, although he didn’t work out. He hears from Todd Stroud about every other week. The Hurricanes’ new defensive line coach wants to get Neal on campus again sometime soon to watch film.

Donell Harris doesn’t have Miami in his top five, but he said the Hurricanes are still keeping in contact with him and sent him an official offer last week. The four-star defensive end recently transferred from Booker T. Washington to Gulliver and was most recently on campus for Paradise Camp, although he didn’t work out, either. He already has one official visit lined up with the Texas A&M Aggies for October and just spent a few days in College Station for an unofficial visit last week. He currently plans to officially visit all the schools in his top five: the Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU Tigers, Auburn Tigers and Texas A&M.

Xzavier Henderson still has Miami as one of the schools he’s considering, but said how seriously he’ll consider the Hurricanes will depend largely on how Miami performs in Manny Diaz’s first season as coach. The Clemson Tigers, Alabama and Florida, where older brother C.J. Henderson is a star cornerback, are probably the three favorites to land the four-star wide receiver from Columbus.

Ruben Hyppolite II has been committed to the Maryland Terrapins since April and said the presence of coach Mike Locksley, and his experience as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator last year, was essentially hat lured him to College Park. Still, the four-star outside linebacker plans to take all five of his official visits. He knows Alabama and the Penn State Nittany Lions are locks to receive an official, plus Maryland, of course. Miami could be an option for one of the last ones as the Hurricanes running backs coach Eric Hickson continues to recruit the linebacker, who transferred to McArthur from Plantation American Heritage, where Hickson used to coach, for his senior season.

The Hurricanes sent an official offer to Marcus Dumervil last week and the four-star tackle from St. Thomas Aquinas said he expects to be at Hard Rock Stadium a few times this year to check out the hometown team. The Louisville Cardinals, Oklahoma Sooners, Florida and LSU are among the suitors for Dumervil, although the offensive lineman’s recruitment still sounds very open.

Latarie Kinsler doesn’t have Miami in his top six and said it’s simply because the Hurricanes just aren’t recruiting him as hard as some other teams. The Syracuse Orange, Oregon Ducks, Tennessee Volunteers and LSU are among those in serious contention for the three-star defensive end from Pahokee.

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