The Miami Hurricanes’ search for offensive line help is set to continue on the weekend of Jan. 26, when three-star guard Ed Montius and four-star tackle William Barnes — both from Apopka — visit UM.
Apopka coach Rick Darlington believes the two teammates will be a package deal for college.
“They have the same five finalists,” Darlington said, “Miami, Auburn, North Carolina, Florida and Ole Miss.”
Miami graduated left tackle Kc McDermott and left guard Trevor Darling after this past season. Starters set to return are center Tyler Gauthier, right guard Navaughn Donaldson and right tackle Tyree St. Louis. Rising sophomore Corey Gaynor is also a key part of the plan, likely at left guard.
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Donaldson, a freshman All-American listed at 6-6 and 350 pounds, played tackle in high school, and a return to that position at UM is possible.
“I think it’s something he wants to do,” said Roland Smith, who coached Donaldson at Miami Central. “If he loses weight like [UM offensive line coach Stacy] Searels wants him to do, I don’t see why not.
“[Donaldson] is a former basketball player who can move really well for a guy his size. But he would face more speed rushers at left tackle.”
Smith said he could see Donaldson playing left tackle if he were to get down to 315 to 320 pounds.
Left tackle is a harder position to fill than guard. Miami has two standout guard prospects already in this class — Delone Scaife from Southridge and Cleveland Reed from Fort Meade.
If Donaldson were to successfully switch to left tackle, Scaife and Reed could be able to challenge for the vacated spot at right guard.
In the meantime, Jalen Goss, a 6-7, 265-pound offensive tackle who had a Miami offer, committed to Florida State on Monday.
Miami has added Moose Griffith, a 6-4, 310-pound guard from Riverview, to its guest list next weekend. Other than Miami, Griffith is looking at Ivy League schools as National Signing Day (Feb. 7) approaches.
Barnes, a 6-4, 325-pounder, is ranked the nation’s fifth-best tackle. Montius, a 6-4, 305-pounder, is ranked the nation’s No. 23 guard.
Meanwhile, Cam Underwood of “State of the U” website, said another Canes solution on the offensive line would be to switch St. Louis to left tackle, leave Donaldson at right guard and try Class of 2017 recruits Kai-Leon Herbert and Zalon’tae Hillery at right tackle.
Moving Donaldson to right tackle, where he doesn’t protect the blind side, could be another option.
“Donaldson is well-suited for tackle but not perfectly suited,” Underwood said. “He doesn’t have elite arm length, and he got overwhelmed a bit on the inside.
“The key will be finding that left tackle, and then everything else can fall into place.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Extremely thin on the defensive line, Miami will host American Heritage end Andrew Chatfield and Kissimmee Gateway tackle this weekend. Miami has a strong shot at both. Miami is also in the running for Georgia defensive tackle Jamarcus Chatman, who will visit Feb. 2. And Miami will try to flip Houston defensive tackle Keondre Coburn, who is a Texas recruit.
▪ With four available scholarships, the FIU Panthers are looking for transfers who could potentially star in Conference USA. Quarterback Evan Shirreffs and linebacker Darrion Owens — both of whom left Miami recently — are not good candidates for FIU because most schools block transfers from going either in-state or in-conference.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org