Barry Jackson

UM in hot pursuit of receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen

Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Ahmmon Richards (82) on a first down pass reception against Pittsburgh on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016.
Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Ahmmon Richards (82) on a first down pass reception against Pittsburgh on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016.

A six-pack of Monday Hurricanes nuggets on a day that quarterback Brad Kaaya, as expected, declared for the NFL Draft:

• UM badly wants to add at least one more receiver to this 2017 recruiting class, preferably two, to supplement a projected top five of Ahmmon Richards, Lawrence Cager, Braxton Berrios, Dayall Harris and Dionte Mullins.

Four-star Illinois-based receiver Jeff Thomas has emerged as a target. Caneinsight chief and Herald contributor Peter Ariz said he will visit UM Jan. 20, after visiting Louisville a week earlier. Rivals rates him the No. 11 receiver in this class.

Three-star Winter Park receiver Jordan Pouncey, a former Notre Dame commit, is more likely to commit to UM than Thomas, Ariz says. Pouncey has a lot of offers, including one from Alabama.

Here’s more from Peter’s piece.

Pouncey played mostly at running back during his senior season. He had 768 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 8.9 per carry, and caught 31 passes for 431 yards.

247Sports lists Pouncey as the No. 112 wide receiver in the 2017 class. Rivals did not include Pouncey in its list of the top 100 recruits at receiver.

UM has one receiver orally committed: three-star New Jersey prospect Evidence Njoku.

• Privately, this UM staff is appreciative of the recruiting that Al Golden’s staff did at linebacker.

But offensive line? Not so much. This staff believes the former one made several shaky evaluations.

Three-star tackles Brendan Loftus and Hunter Knighton have departed and are transferring (they weren’t around for the bowl game) and tackle Bar Milo has been a disappointment. UM didn’t believe Loftus or Knighton could play here and Milo must improve a ton to avoid a similar fate. We hear Milo has been getting practice work at center.

We’ll probably see more of Trevor Darling at guard next season. He started the first nine games at left tackle before being injured and played some guard late in the season and the bowl game.

Kc McDermott, who had been playing left guard, moved to left tackle, and the results were mixed. He, Sonny Odugwu (coming off an injury) and Tyree St. Louis (who shows flashes) will be pushed hard by LSU transfer George Brown and elite incoming freshman Navaughn Donaldson. With Darling in that mix, at least UM has depth at tackle.

But the quality of play, and consistency, must improve.

One positive of the shuffling: Tyler Gauthier impressed with his play at guard.

UM loses guards Danny Isidora (a starter) and Alex Gall (a capable backup).

Center Nick Linder returns.

• UM, pushing to add a couple more high-end offensive linemen, remains in the mix for American Heritage four-star prospect Kai-Leon Herbert, rated the Class of 2017’s No. 26 tackle by Rivals.

Though he’s a Michigan commit, he will visit UM Jan. 20.

“I think very highly of Miami, coach (Stacy) Searels and coach (Mark) Richt,” Herbert told Southeast analyst Rob Cassidy. “They’ve been coming at me. They’re basically saying I can make a difference, I just have to work hard.”

Regarding his Michigan commitment, Herbert said: “I’m committed, but I am still looking at other schools to see how it’ll benefit me and my family in the long run. They don’t want me to decommit, have been pushing, talking to my parents.”

UF also is in the mix.

• UM is trying to hold onto three-star Georgia-based tackle Zalon’tae Hillery. He has visited UM, Kentucky and Western Michigan and plans to visit Florida and NC State.

"I'm still with Miami but I'm keeping a very open mind because it's going to be five years, so I'm going to even all my choices out and see at the end," he told Canesport.

Still, Hillery told that another school would need to make up considerable ground to catch UM.

• With David Njoku turning pro, 6-4 Oklahoma City based receiver/tight end Nick Robinson told that UM tight ends coach Todd Hartley told him that UM plans to make him an offer when he visits Miami’s campus in January.

His top seven are UM, Tennessee, Nebraska, Louisville, Memphis, Central Michigan and Houston.

He says UM wants to play him as a tight end and a flex receiver, and Robinson likes that.

Rivals rates Robinson as the 11st-best tight end in the 2017 class.

UM has one tight end orally committed: Texas-based three star-prospect Brian Polendey.

• The UM men’s basketball team was third in “others receiving votes” in the AP top 25 poll released today. So the Hurricanes essentially are ranked 28th. Miami, 11-2 and 1-0 in ACC play, plays at Syracuse on Wednesday (7 p.m., Fox Sports Sun).

For Dolphins nuggets from Monday, including Adam Gase’s expression if dissatisfaction with his defense, please click here.