High School Recruiting

With Signing Day approaching, here’s a look at how the Hurricanes and Panthers are doing

American Heritage Patriots defensive tackle Nesta Silvera (99) runs back a fumble for a touchdown against Baker County Wildcats in Class 5A State High School Football Championship at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Silvera, a five-star recruit, has committed to Miami but decided not to sign in December, preferring to wait for the Feb. 7 signing date.
American Heritage Patriots defensive tackle Nesta Silvera (99) runs back a fumble for a touchdown against Baker County Wildcats in Class 5A State High School Football Championship at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Silvera, a five-star recruit, has committed to Miami but decided not to sign in December, preferring to wait for the Feb. 7 signing date. adiaz@miamiherald.com

When it comes to recruiting, the scariest sentence for Miami Hurricanes fans is this one: Nesta Silvera is visiting Ohio State and Florida.

Silvera, a five-star defensive tackle, has committed to Miami but decided not to sign in December, preferring to wait for National Signing Day on Feb. 7.

The Hurricanes are in dire need of defensive linemen after defensive tackles RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton bolted early for the NFL, and losing Silvera would be a major blow. Silvera will visit Miami on Jan. 26, which is after the aforementioned trips.

Miami’s effort to keep Silvera committed is one of many recruiting battles going on throughout the state. Here’s a look at how recruiting is shaping up for the state’s top programs.

MIAMI

With 19 signed recruits, the Canes so far have the No. 1 class in the ACC and No. 6 in the nation, according to 247 Sports. The Canes have one five-star player (running back Lorenzo Lingard) and 12 four-star athletes.

The Canes would love to get at least three of the big four Heritage athletes who are still unsigned: Silvera, defensive end Andrew Chatfield and superstar cornerbacks Patrick Surtain Jr. and Tyson Campbell.

Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt speaks to the media after the University of Miami Hurricanes were defeated by the Clemson Tigers 38-3 in the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017.

Surtain just visited LSU and is also strongly considering national champion Alabama, which will host him this weekend. But Surtain also took an unofficial visit to Miami, and the Canes still have an outside chance. Campbell just came back from a Georgia trip, and it could be between the Bulldogs and Canes for him.

Miami is likely to get Silvera and Chatfield. Also on Miami’s wish list: defensive end Malcolm Lamar, defensive tackle Dennis Briggs, offensive tackles William Barnes and Jalen Goss; offensive guard Ed Montilus and wide receiver Marquez Ezzard.

According to their coach at Apopka, Barnes and Montilus are a package deal, and Miami is one of five schools on their list.

American Heritage cornerback Tyson Campbell was formally invited to the 2018 US Army All-American Game on Friday. Campbell spoke about the likelihood of playing with teammate Pat Surtain, Jr. in college.

FIU

The Panthers signed 21 players in December, including three four-star recruits. The class, which addressed virtually every position, is ranked No. 1 in Conference USA by 247 Sports.

Coach Butch Davis has four scholarships available but might hold onto some or all of them to see if a coveted transfer becomes available over the summer. That was the case last year when FIU picked up starting tight end Pharoah McKever as a graduate transfer from North Carolina State.

FLORIDA

The Gators coaching change cost them a dozen recruits who backed out of their pledges, including seven who are four-star athletes.

Florida, starved for a star quarterback, lost four-star passer Matt Corral to Ole Miss. However, new coach Dan Mullen signed Georgia’s Emory Jones, a former Ohio State recruit and the No. 4 dual-threat QB in the nation. Jones, who turned down FSU and Alabama, has promised Mullen he will win a national title.

Overall, the Gators have 13 players signed and two more committed, but it’s not a balanced class as of yet. The Gators loaded up at safety (four recruits), offensive tackle (three) and tight end (two).

The Gators have a lot of holes to fill between now and Feb. 7 as they have no defensive linemen, no interior offensive linemen and just one linebacker and wide receiver.

Among Florida’s projects: They are hoping to flip Auburn defensive tackle recruit Coynis Miller and Alabama outside linebacker Quay Walker.

FLORIDA STATE

The Seminoles have had 15 players back out of their pledges to FSU, including 11 since late November, when the drama unfolded that led to coach Jimbo Fisher bolting for Texas A&M.

Eight of those recruits are four-star recruits, including running back James Cook, the former Miami Central star who abandoned his brother Dalvin’s alma mater in favor of Georgia.

In addition, six players have left early for the NFL.

New FSU coach Willie Taggart has signed just seven players so far, although six of them are four- or five-star recruits. That list includes five-star California safety Jaiden Woodbey and four-star cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Cornerback is the only area where the Seminoles, with three recruits, seem well fortified in this class.

Among the players scheduled to visit FSU before signing day are quarterback James Foster, wide receiver Joshua Moore, defensive tackles Dennis Briggs and Jamarcus Chatman. Briggs and Chatman are also Miami targets.

CENTRAL FLORIDA

The Knights, coming off an incredible 13-0 season, have 15 players either signed or committed, and there’s a clear emphasis on offensive linemen (seven) and tight ends (two).

There are no five- or four-star players, but UCF did land several South Florida recruits such as Southridge defensive end Randy Charlton, Miami Northwestern linebacker Demetreius Mayes, Booker T. Washington safety Jermaine McMillan; Miami High cornerback Derek Gainous and Dillard offensive tackle Devin Jordan.

Look for the Knights to sign some running backs and wide receivers Feb. 7. One such playmaker set to visit UCF is Texas wide receiver Ke’von Ahmad.

SOUTH FLORIDA

The Bulls, now clearly behind UCF in the state pecking order, signed an impressive 24 recruits in December and have four more players committed. However, the Bulls have zero five- or four-star recruits.

Perhaps USF’s most exciting recruit is Miami High all-purpose back Johnny Ford, who scored 25 touchdowns this past season: 13 rushing, nine receiving, two on kickoffs and one on a punt.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC

The Owls signed just five players in December — two junior-college wide receivers, two high school defensive ends and one junior college defensive tackle.

Expect Lane Kiffin to sign more junior college players and graduate transfers who can help right away.

The Recruiting Column is a year-round feature of the Miami Herald. If you have a tip or story idea regarding recruiting or an impending college commitment, please contact Walter Villa at: wvilla07@yahoo.com

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