Barry Jackson

Two weeks from Signing Day, UM making late push at several offensive positions

Miami head coach Mark Richt holds up the championship trophy after defeating West Virginia 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.
Miami head coach Mark Richt holds up the championship trophy after defeating West Virginia 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. AP

With just 14 shopping days left before National Signing Day, a look at where UM recruiting stands at each offensive position:

• Wide receiver: A high priority, with only one committed so far (three-star Evidence Njoku) and UM determined to add at least two from among a group including Louisiana-based DeVonta Smith, Illinois-based Jeff Thomas, Winter Park’s Jordan Pouncey, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Mike Harley and potentially Notre Dame transfer Corey Holmes and Auburn transfer Stanton Truitt.

Thomas, a four-star prospect who’s rated 88th in ESPN’s top 300, visited with UM coach Mark Richt and two UM assistants at his East St. Louis High campus on Wednesday, according to Canesport’s Matt Shodell, and will visit UM this weekend.

The MVP of the recent Under Armour All-American Game, Thomas has narrowed his choices to UM, Louisville and Illinois, his high school defensive coordinator told Shodell.

Thomas, who also can play defensive back, is rated the No. 8 receiver and No. 57 overall prospect by Rivals.

Smith will visit UM on Jan. 27 after visiting Alabama this weekend and LSU last weekend. Many consider Alabama the favorite.

Pouncey, a three-star prospect, told that his visit to UM last weekend “was a perfect 10” but said he has no favorite and will visit Texas and Tennessee.

Harley, a four-star prospect, said he enjoyed his visit to UM last weekend, and though some Miami commitments are hopeful he will flip, he told Rivals: “I’m just sticking it out with West Virginia for now.” But he won’t announce until signing day.

If Miami still needs receiver help after Signing Day, the Canes likely will pursue Holmes, who said he will decide his future in March or April; Miami likes him and he told Rivals: “I’m hoping Miami will offer me after Signing Day.” Holmes, a former four-star prospect from St. Thomas Aquinas who is eligible to play immediately, had 11 catches for 96 yards last season.

According to CBS and Inside the U, UM also is interested in Truitt, a former four-star prospect who had modest numbers for Auburn last season (seven catches, 100 yards, 31 rushes for 187 yards). Truitt, also eligible to play immediately, began his Auburn career at receiver and switched to running back last season.

• Running back: This became a bigger need on Wednesday, with news that Gus Edwards is transferring. Edwards’ departure, coupled with Joe Yearby turning pro, leaves UM with only Mark Walton, Travis Homer and Trayone Gray (off a major knee injury) as the only backs on scholarships.

One back is committed and expected to enroll this week (Gulliver’s Robert Burns, who’s 67th in ESPN’s top 300), and UM remains optimistic it also will land Maryland-based Anthony McFarland, rated by rivals as the No. 3 all-purpose back in the country.

The 5-foot-8 McFarland, who missed his senior season with a broken leg, is down to UM and Maryland and will announce his pick Jan. 25.

ESPN rates him the 12th best running back in this class and the 111th best player overall.

UM is optimistic he will select the Canes.

• Tight end: Brian Polendey, a three-star prospect from Texas, is enrolled and on campus. Miami made a push for Sacramento’s four-star Josh Falo, but UM didn’t crack his top five. The 6-4 Njoku, rated the No. 90 receiver by Rivals, could be an option at tight end.

• Quarterback. Cade Weldon and N’Kosi Perry are committed, with Weldon already on campus and Perry arriving this summer.

• Offensive line: Four-star tackle Navaughn Donaldson and Iowa-based three-star tackle Zach Dykstra are enrolled, and Parkland Douglas three-star center Corey Gaynor is considered a strong oral commitment. Three-star Georgia based tackle Zalon’tae Hillery, a UM oral commitment, visited NC State last week and told Rivals: “I’m really open right now still to recruiting.”

UM is making a hard push for Plantation American Heritage teammates Kai-Leon Herbert (a Michigan oral commitment who’s Rivals’ No. 26 offensive tackle) and uncommitted Tedarrell Slaton (who reportedly wants to switch to defensive tackle in college). Herbert, who’s visiting UM, is also considering UF if he flips from Michigan. Miami is reportedly behind Georgia, Kentucky and UF for Slaton.

UM also has reached out to three-star Ohio-based tackle Toryque Bateman (he has called Louisville his leader) and two-star South Broward High linebacker Jordan Carty, the No. 67 tackle who lists South Carolina as his favorite but has been awaiting a Miami offer.

We’ll update the defensive side of the ball in a Thursday post.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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