High School Recruiting

Mark Richt hosts first official visit for UM recruits; LB Zach McCloud recommits

Lantana Santaluces linebacker Zach McCloud.
Lantana Santaluces linebacker Zach McCloud. adiaz@miamiherald.com

New University of Miami football coach Mark Richt has been racking up the mileage in his first week on the job, driving around the state solidifying relationships with key recruits expected to enroll in college in January.

After going everywhere from his new home base in Coral Gables to Palm Beach, Vero Beach, Palmetto, Orlando and Jacksonville, it was time for Richt to host a weekend slate of official visits for the first time as coach of the Hurricanes.

And just one day into the weekend, it was already a success as he got Lantana Santaluces linebacker Zach McCloud to jump back on board with the class. McCloud committed once again after dropping his oral pledge in November.

McCloud announced his recommitment on Twitter on Friday night.

“Proud to say I’m committed to Miami,” he said on social media. “Back like I never left.”

The Hurricanes also hosted quarterback Jack Allison, linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney, and defensive end Patrick Bethel — all of whom are committed and enrolling in the spring semester, except for Bethel. In addition, Isaac Nauta, a five-star tight end at Bradenton IMG Academy who was formerly committed to Florida State, showed up on an unofficial visit Friday.

The success on the weekend comes at a pivotal time considering the “dead period” on the NCAA’s college football recruiting calendar starts Monday as teams focus on bowl game preparation. During a recruiting dead period, college coaches may not have face-to-face contact with recruits or their parents on or off the school’s campus. They still may communicate telephonically or electronically.

McCloud, a three-star prospect, said last week he closed off his recruiting and a return to UM was the only thing in the plans.

“Would love to have him back,” says Pinckney, also a three-star linebacker from Jacksonville Raines who had Richt watch him in a state championship game at the Orlando Citrus Bowl last Saturday and welcomed him for a visit in Jacksonville within the week. “Ain’t nothing else to say. He knows what it is. We can be great. Let’s go ball.”

Adds Quarterman, the four-star linebacker from Orange Park Oakleaf who sat in the Citrus Bowl stands that night with Richt and joined the two for dinner on Richt’s visit with Pinckney: “I’m just ready to welcome him back.”

Allison, a four-star, pro-style quarterback from Palmetto on the Gulf Coast of Florida, was in the middle of various rumors, with some prognosticators expecting Washington-based, five-star quarterback Jacob Eason, a Georgia commit since July 2014, to follow Richt to UM. But Eason not visiting is an indicator that it won’t happen.

Bethel, a four-star defensive end from Vero Beach, is said to be a Cane lean as all 14 of the Crystal Ball predictions on his 247Sports page sending him to UM.

YOUNG DECOMMITS

Coconut Creek cornerback Malek Young, a four-star recruit and U.S. Army All-American, decommitted from Georgia.

Young was previously not considering UM, but according to Coconut Creek coach Kareem Reid, a flip to the Hurricanes and Richt is possible depending on Richt’s hires for defensive assistants. Young has an official visit to UM scheduled for Jan. 15.

Young tweeted: “I would just like to thank all the Georgia coaches for welcoming me to the family while I was committed and all the love, but as of [Friday], I’ve [decommitted] from the University of Georgia. I would like to open up my choices again and be highly recruited.”

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