Barry Jackson

UM injects big-time talent at cornerback

adiaz@miamiherald.com

Lots of talent arrived on UM’s campus last month, including a quarterback (N’Kosi Perry) that coaches compare to Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward and two high-end speed receivers (Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley).

But this is as important as anything:

Two high-quality experienced cornerbacks, plus a four-star freshman corner, enrolled and should immediately turn that position from shaky to potentially superb.

In junior Jhavonte Dean, the Canes are adding a player pursued by Alabama and considered the nation’s top junior college cornerback. And in senior transfer Dee Delaney, they’re adding a player considered a top-12 NFL corner in next year’s draft.

“Dean is a long corner and he’s fast,” receiver Ahmmon Richards said after competing against them in informal workouts. “Delaney is more physical.”

Those two and ball-hawking sophomore Malek Young (a star this spring; pictured above on the left) give UM a very good troika, with Columbus High newcomer Trajan Bandy having as good a chance as anyone to win the No. 4 cornerback job. (Michael Jackson is the top veteran option for the fourth job.)

The 6-2 Delaney, who had 11 interceptions the past two seasons at The Citadel, wasn’t highly rated coming out of high school in South Carolina but thrived after The Citadel switched him from receiver to corner. NFL Draft Scout rates him the 10th best cornerback prospect in the 2018 draft.

“It’s easy to see that he’s a great player,” coach Mark Richt said. “Obviously, everybody in his league thought so; they made him All-American, All-Conference. The people watching him on a daily basis believed in him. He was doing more than holding his own [against Division 1 programs]. He’s got a very positive upside. We don’t bring graduate transfers in here unless we think they’re going to play.”

Linebacker Shaquille Quarterman said Delaney “is blazing. He’s blazing. You can definitely tell he’s mature. He does it with such poise. Very smooth.”

Delaney told Herald correspondent Peter Ariz of Caneinsight.com that he transferred to UM because “I wanted to challenge myself. Being at that next level, I’ll be able to go against top recruits on a daily basis.”

On the decision to move to a higher division, Delaney said: “I was hearing it from both sides. Some of them we’re saying ‘if you go there and ball, it could really help your draft stock – but if you go there and don’t do too good, then you could hurt it.’”

Delaney, who already has played a game at FSU as a freshman at The Citadel, said he watched film with UM coaches during his visit here in February “and got a chance to see where I’ll be used at. As far as I see, I’ll be a great corner – just to shut one side down or at least try to shut one side down. They can worry about things other than that side of the field.”

As for Dean, he committed to Cincinnati out of South Dade High in 2014 but was a non-qualifier academically and enrolled at Blinn CC in Texas, where he thrived.

"Miami was always my favorite team, but in high school I never really pictured myself being recruited by the University of Miami until I got to the junior college level,” Dean told Ariz. “After I did my two years in Texas, [it] is just lovely to come back home close to my family. I only have two years left on my NCAA clock;… I'm going to do everything in my will to make myself able to hit the NFL draft.”

Dean, 6-1, said he recently ran a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash.

“Where we’re at in the back end, we had to have guys who were ready to go,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “We wanted age. We wanted a guy like Adrian Colbert last year who had… that sense of urgency [of] ‘I can’t just sit around and sleep in the back of meetings.’ That’s Dean. He’s been a Hurricane fan his whole life. He’s coming home.”

As for Bandy, he “plays like a college player in the high school level,” Diaz said. “His sense of urgency, his toughness, his tackling is off the charts. We want a secondary that prides itself on toughness and Trajan is as tough as they come.”

• This past year ended up being the most successful fund-raising year in the history of Hurricanes sports.

The Hurricane Club raised $49 million in cash and commitments in 2016-17, an all-time record and an increase of more than 80 percent from the previous record of $26.5 million, set in 2010-11.

Including the Soffers' $14 million pledge towards the now-under-construction indoor facility, there were seven gifts of $1 million or more in 2016-17, which was also a Hurricane Club record.

The Hurricane Club's membership of more than 11,000 members represents an over 100-percent jump from its membership of 5,140 in 2010.

Please check back tonight for more UM notes and Dolphins.

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