Barry Jackson

UM football eyeing top-end talents to complete a strong recruiting class

Four-star Carol City linebacker De’Andre Wilder (10) sacks Gables quarterback Nick Galuppo, left on Thurs., Aug. 25, 2016.
Four-star Carol City linebacker De’Andre Wilder (10) sacks Gables quarterback Nick Galuppo, left on Thurs., Aug. 25, 2016. cjuste@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Hurricanes football notes:

• UM --- which has 20 oral commitments, including two good quarterbacks and three four-star defensive backs in a 2017 recruiting class rated sixth nationally by Rivals.com --- has about five spots left.

So who is UM targeting?

Remember these names: two elite receivers (Deerfield Beach High/Alabama oral commitment Jerry Jeudy and Louisiana’s DeVonta Smith) plus Georgia-based receiver Jeremiah Holloman; four-star Carol City linebacker De’Andre Wilder; Palm Beach Gardens safety Amari Carter (UM and Notre Dame are strongly in the mix); Fort Lauderdale American Heritage guard Tedarrell Slaton and two defensive ends – Dillard’s Jordan Wright and Miami Central’s Owen Carney.

Wright tells me UM has “a good chance” to land him and one reason is that defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski “knows the right technique to get me [to the NFL]. It’s big that he me” developed four first-rounders at Missouri.

This would be an elite class if UM lands three or four of those.

“Slaton would be the biggest get [of the uncommitted local kids],” recruiting analyst Charles Fishbein said.

Slaton told me in August that he had UM about seventh in his top 10.

• A key oral commitment in this UM class, Central offensive tackle Navaughn Donaldson, told me in August there was more than 70 percent chance he would stick with UM. This week, he told CaneSport he's planning visits to FSU, UF and USC.

"I'm pretty solid," Donaldson told CaneSport. “I see improvement in Miami's program at every position - offensive line, defense, weight room, coaching, all of that. Miami coaches say how happy they are to have me there, that I'm at home, how I fit into their offense.”

• Another key UM oral commitment, Columbus cornerback Christopher Henderson, told InsideTheGators that he's still solid to Miami but visited UF recently and plans to attend UF-LSU instead of UM-FSU on Oct. 8.

Of the Gators, he said: “They just feel comfortable to me and we've got a great bond. They make me feel like family when I am here."

Henderson is also taking visits to Michigan, Tennessee and Alabama. So UM will need to sweat this out.

• Mark Richt, on Mark Walton’s terrific start: "He's very tough. He's a great route runner. He's a great pass protector. I think he runs inside, tackles well outside. He's got good speed. Obviously he can break tackles.

University of Miami head coach Mark Richt speaks after his team's victory over Appalachian State, addressing the play that ended with an injury to starting quarterback Brad Kaaya.

"And Joe (Yearby) does, too. Joe and him both are guys that we don't really say, hey, he's a third down back or some kind of situational back. We think both of those guys can do well. We just felt from the performances that we saw in the spring and the fall that Mark edged him out, but it wasn't like - it wasn't a big deal but enough to put Mark as the No. 1 guy, and Joe is obviously getting a lot of carries, too."

• Richt, on defensive end Chad Thomas’ strong start (2.5 sacks, 15 tackles, 5 tackles for loss): “He has been really coachable ... trusts the coaches enough to do exactly what we ask. Good things are happening for him, so it's been really nice. I thought Gus Felder and our strength coaches did a really good job with our players. They were in great shape, their bodies changed to a certain degree, just about every one of them. Their body fat got better.”

• Though UM is practicing multiple times this week on a bye week, Richt is taking it a bit easier on his team than he has in the past.

"Some years, if I didn't think our team was playing physical and playing hard and all that, there's been times I've kind of hooked it up and had spring football and just said, `OK, we're going to line up and do some three-on-three drills and Oklahoma type drills and start scrimmaging,'" Richt said. "But I think we have been playing hard, and we've been playing physical.

"What I decided to do was have our normal fundamental practice but cut down a little bit of every piece of it, so we have all the elements of the practice but not go quite as long, kind of short and sweet, so to speak."

Please click here for a six-pack of Dolphins nuggets today, including some personnel news. And please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Special Herald correspondent Peter Ariz contributed to this report.

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