Barry Jackson

How UM lured Richt’s top recruit

For the Miami Herald

Some Canes items on a Friday:

• Been busy with Heat and Marlins media day the past day, but some thoughts on UM’s big 24 hours in football recruiting:

Huge oral commitment for UM with Lorenzo Lingard, rated a top three running back and top 16 overall Class of 2018 player by two major recruiting services.

If he sticks, he’s Mark Richt’s top oral commitment since joining the Canes.

So why did Lingard -- from University High in Orange City, Fla. -- commit to UM?

Three reasons:

1) Lingard told The Orlando Sentinel’s Chris Hayes: “I’ve been thinking about the University of Miami for a year now and every time I take a visit down there it was better and better. The opportunities I can have down there are very widespread compared to some of the other schools that I had in mind.

“I like, away from football, how the student body carries themselves as wanting to be the best and keep the brand of the U as top-tier. I spoke with the business administrators and that side of it, and they want the best for the people, the students. It’s a school, but you don’t feel locked down in a school. I’ve been in school for basically my whole life and I at least want to go somewhere that it doesn’t feel like I’m still bunkered down in school. That was one of the main parts of it.”

2) He loves running back coach Thomas Brown.

"Coach Brown is a great dude," Lingard told Inside The U. "He was a standout type of person to me when I first met him just with his character and everything. Same with Coach Richt. From the time I first met him, he has been the same way."

3) UM will allow him to continue his track career, which was important to him.

“That was one of the great things about them,” Lingard told Hayes. “Most colleges say guys can run track and play football, but it’s another thing to hear it from the head [football] coach and the track department too.”

Lingard is one of the top hurdlers in the country. He was the Class 4A state champion in the 110-meter hurdles last year and his time of 13.94 seconds ranked fourth-best in Florida.

Though Lingard has time to change his mind, he suggests he won’t:

“I’m really going to close my recruiting down,” Lingard said. “Any questions or stuff like that [other coaches] might have for me, I’m just going to have them talk to my uncle or my dad. Right now I have to focus on all my classes and track and stuff like that. I just need to keep a level head and focus on what I need to be doing.”

Lingard, 6-1, averaged 11 yards per carry, ran for 1418 yards and 22 touchdowns last season.

How good is he? Here’s what ESPN says about him:

“STRENGTHS: Tall with a muscular build and the speed to take it the distance. Possesses the vision to find seams and gets downhill quickly. Strong, well-balanced runner who powers through tackles and is difficult to arm tackler when he gains steam. Flashes the wiggle to make defenders miss in space. Relentless and well-conditioned athlete. ...

AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Will need to add some bulk and lower-body power. Does not have an overly explosive first step and will gather at times to cut. ...

BOTTOM LINE: Lingard has a very impressive blend of size, speed and athleticism. While he will need to add a little weight, this is bell cow type running back at the next level with continued physical development.”

If Mark Walton turns pro after next season, Lingard seems good enough to step right in.

• With Lingard’s commitment, Rivals ranks UM’s Class of 2018 class second-best in the country, behind only Penn State.

UM’s eight oral commitments: Lingard, three-star Miami Southridge guard Delone Scaife, three-star Homestead defensive back D.J. Ivey, Coral Gables four-star defensive back Gilbert Frierson, Miami Southridge three-star receiver Daquris Wiggins, four-star Columbus cornerback Josh Jobe, three-star Citra, Fla.-based athlete Jalen Patterson, and three-star Miami Northwestern athlete Thomas Burns.

• According to multiple reports, UM is among schools pursuing Clemson grad transfer Adrian Baker, a cornerback who has two interceptions is eight career games, according to collegefootballreference.com.

He missed last season with a torn ACL but was rated a top 200 player coming out of Hollywood Chaminade High in 2013.

• According to Canesport, UM made an offer to Class of 2018 Orlando-based dual-threat QB Joe Milton, who isn’t rated yet by Rivals. He said he has 10 offers and no finalists. He said he hears comparisons to Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

• UM today promoted defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski to assistant head coach/defensive line.

In Kuligowski’s first season here after working at Missouri, the Hurricanes ranked 20th nationally in total defense, fifth in tackles for loss and 22nd in sacks.

Also, Kuligowski’s defensive line helped limit opponents to just 4.75 yards per play, a figure which ranked ninth in the nation. Miami ranked 86th in the country in yards per play allowed in 2015.

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