Barry Jackson

UM confident it will close strong in recruiting; UM personnel nuggets

University of Miami defensive line football coach, Craig Kuligowski works with the team during practice, Monday morning, Aug. 15 , 2016.
University of Miami defensive line football coach, Craig Kuligowski works with the team during practice, Monday morning, Aug. 15 , 2016. emichot@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of UM notes on a Wednesday:

• Can UM keep together a 2018 recruiting class that is ranked in the top two in the country, along with Ohio State?

One UM assistant is fully confident that will happen.

“Well, I think that we’re going to have to be able to finish on some of these top-level recruits who are getting offers from everybody in the country. So it’s like the national championship, in terms of recruiting. You’ve got to beat the best to get these kids, and we’re going to do it,” defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said. “The kids that right now are in place for us, we’re very, very excited about. Couldn’t be more excited about. Now we’ve just got to be able to get a couple more kids in the boat and get them in before signing day, and we’re after a few of the top guys in the country.”

Then Kuligowski presented his recruiting pitch:

“If a guy wants to play for a national championship, you come to Miami. If a guy wants to play in a defensive system that allows you to make plays on the defensive line, you come to Miami. If a guy wants to be taught by somebody that’s put more guys in the NFL than anybody else, they come to Miami, right? That’s the thing. These kids can get the best of the best here. And I think sometimes if you’re not from here, you don’t realize that right away. But it’s huge. These kids see more and more when they come on campus and experience what it is to be a Cane, then that’ll help us out and we’ll be able to close strong.”

Sacramento-based freshman defensive end D.J. Johnson said he chose UM over 99 other offers and there wasn’t a close second. He was a Canes fan growing up. And freshmen defensive end Jon Garvin said Kuligowksi is such a good teacher than he learns something every day.

• Though Johnson and Garvin have flashed, Kuligowski said: “They’ve got to learn how to play like college football players, which they have not done yet. They’ve just go to make some strides every day and they both have got a very, very high top end.”

But, he said: “I think that they can make an impact this season. We recruited them to make an impact this season. I would say they’re not making the impact right now, still got a couple weeks before the first game. A couple of these guys have just had a few practices with me, so they’re just going to continue to get better.”

Mark Richt, UM's football coach, says the number one defense 'won the day' during the scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium.

• Excluding Jaquan Johnson, safeties coach Ephraim Banda wants to see more from his safeties replacing NFL draft picks Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter.

“We were definitely bigger last year,” Banda said. “Jamal and Jenks were bigger safeites. I feel like the previous staff was right on in recruiting those guys, much like Jaquan Johnson. But Jaquan’s urgency, his ability to get the ball on the ground is just as good as Rayshawn and Jamal. This year we’ll roll guys more, too. Last year I had three I could count on. This year we’ll have more than that, four or five, and really roll.”

Sheldrick Redwine has been running with the starters, but UM isn’t yet anointing him the starter. “Last year Red was up and down, up and down, and those lulls killed him,” Banda said. “I told him we can’t have that, you have to stay locked in. He did that from the very first time he jumped on the mat in the spring. He’s had a couple (practices) where we’ve had to get on him, but that’s why they call you coach.

• Freshman Amari Carter flashed in the spring, but Banda said: “Now that everything’s in in terms of technique and the game plan, he has to clean up the little things, his false steps, and he has to continue to run to the ball and tackle. Now I need a cleaner game out of him.”

• Because some older players haven’t developed as hoped (Bar Milo, George Brown, Jahair Jones), UM would like at least a couple of its four freshman offensive linemen to be able to help immediately if needed.

Here’s what offensive line coach Stacy Searels said about them: On Kai-leon Herbert: “Kai is a very intelligent kid. He’s a very talented kid. He’s a hard worker. He’s adjusted to the speed of the game at the college level. He’s a good player.”

... On Corey Gaynor: “Since the first day that he got here he’s been a really, really good competitor. It’s just knowing what to do and refining his techniques a little bit.”...

On Zach Dykstra: “Zach is getting better. He’s improved a lot since camp started. I’m pleased with his work ethic.”... On Zalon-tae Hillery: “He had a good work ethic coming out of high school. Being here in the spring really helped him.”

Hurricanes coach Mark Richt talks about the heat, the humidity and the players' energy during the team's scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

Gaynor has a chance to be UM’s starting center in a couple of years, and Herbert is a high-end prospect, a likely future starter.

• Regarding two UM freshmen receiver with questions about their longterm positions: DeeJay Dallas said he’s only spending about “12 percent” of his time at running back in practice and has no idea if UM will use him there but is OK with the idea.

Evidence Njoku, who has a bone bruise and is a redshirt candidate, said he’s not sure if he eventually will be switched to tight end like his brother David. “Coach wants me to be in his [tight end] room pretty bad; he's been teasing me saying one day I will be in his meeting room,” Njoku said. “Right now, I’m 215 and long: 6-6, 6-7. I run smoothly to an exent. I can jump high. I feel like I'm a big bodied receiver but at the same time, that's not up to me.”

This is the third in a flurry of posts today. Here are Marlins nuggets, including updates on Jose Fernandez’s statue, A-Rod flirting with the Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton stuff and more. Here’s my post with media news, including the Heat being slighted, major NFL changes at CBS and Fox and the Dolphins’ announcing assignments the first four weeks...

In case you missed it last night: Here’s my look at why UM believes it may be better at cornerback and receiver even after losing three NFL draft picks.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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