Mark Richt talks about recruiting and the future of the team
UM’s exceptional season has strengthened its hold on a top top-three recruiting class while also potentially helping the Hurricanes’ chances of luring coveted players with its handful of remaining scholarships.
UM has 21 oral commitments and figures to end up with a class of 23 or 24, with that number potentially growing a bit if Kendrick Norton, Richard McIntosh Jr. and/or Michael Jackson turn pro.
“Y’all better hop on the train now, Miami IS BACK,” Las Vegas based four-star tight end and UM oral commitment Brevin Jordan tweeted recently. “College football scared to see Miami back to their old ways.”
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said if you are a recruit, “You are watching this and saying, ‘Holy cow!’ This is a big time [thing] I haven’t seen before. They are seeing how this town is energized, seeing old ladies wearing turnover chains. They say, ‘I get it. This is how it is when the Canes are rolling.’ Winning helps.”
A look at where the Hurricanes stand, by position, with at least half of the 21 oral commits expected to sign during the newly permitted early signing period (Dec. 20-22):
• Quarterback: After Artur Sitkowski flipped his commitment from Miami to Rutgers, UM found someone better --- Central Gwinett (Ga.)’s Jarren Williams, who’s rated the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback by Rivals.
He committed last week, plans to enroll in January and likely will seriously challenge N’Kosi Perry for the starting job in 2019, 2020 and 2021, with an outside chance to beat out Perry or Malik Rosier in 2018.
Williams, 6-3, has thrown for 3015 yards, 28 touchdowns and four interceptions in 10 games this season and run for 550 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Mark Richt’s offense, I feel I’m a great fit for it,” Williams told Canesport. “What he does with his quarterbacks and how he develops them, I think I can be very successful in his system.”
• Running back: UM is set here, with strong commitments from five-star Lorenzo Lingard of Orange Park (rated by Rivals as the No. 2 running back and No. 10 overall prospect) and Miami Carol City four-star Camron Davis (rated No. 7 among backs, No. 75 overall). Lingard reportedly will enroll early.
Davis said neither he nor Lingard are dissuaded from coming here by the competition.
Lingard is considered UM’s best running back recruit in many years; he ran for 1700 yards and 26 touchdowns this season on 8.2 per carry.
• Receiver: UM is in great shape here, too, with two high-end prospects committed: Miami Southridge’s four-star Mark Pope (No. 4 among receivers, No. 25 prospect overall) and IMG Academy four-star Brian Hightower (39, 217). Hightower has eight TD catches this season. Those two and Southridge’s three-star Daquris Wiggins, rated the No. 66 receiver in this class, all plan to enroll in January.
The Hurricanes also have all their receivers back except Braxton Berrios and Dionte Mullins, who recently left the program.
Miami also is in the mix for four-star Georgia based Marquez Ezzard, Rivals’ No. 43 receiver and No. 239 overall prospect. He plans to visit Jan. 19.
• Tight end: Two elite prospects are committed at a need position, with Jordan (third among tight ends, 109th overall) and Jacksonville-based four-star Will Mallory (8th, 139th) ready to step in immediately to replace senior Chris Herndon.
Jordan had 1016 yards receiving this season, averaged 18.5 per catch and scored 11 touchdowns.
Mallory averaged 16.8 yards on 17 catches before being injured.
Neither will be enrolled for spring practice.
But both will have at least a decent chance to beat out Michael Irvin Jr. to start.
• Fullback: UM has an oral commitment from on Atlanta-based Realus George, rated by Rivals as the nation’s No. 1 fullback. He will be an asset in short yardage, a Hurricanes deficiency this season.
• Offensive line: UM has three committed (Orlando-based John Campbell, Ft. Meade-based four star Cleveland Reed and Miami Southridge’s Delone Scaife) and would like to add one more, in part because several players on the roster (Bar Milo, Jahair Jones, George Brown Jr.) have fallen short of expectations and also because Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling are graduating.
Rivals rates Scaife the nation’s No. 6 tackle in the 2018 class, Campbell the No. 17 tackle and Reed the No. 24 tackle. Scaife, who also can play guard, plans to enroll in January; he’s rated by Rivals as the 58th best player overall in this class.
UM would like to add one or two more and is pursuing Georgia-based three star tackle Jalen Gross and Georgia-based three-star guard Christian Meadows, an FSU oral commit rated the nation’s No. 30 guard. Both will visit UM in late January.
• Defensive line: Only one committed – Plantation American Heritage’s four-star tackle Nesta Silvera – and UM wants to add at least one more tackle and at least one end.
Silvera, rated the nation’s No. 22 defensive tackle in the 2018 class, has been great this season, with 19 tackles for loss and 15 sacks for a state title team. Silvera won’t be at UM for spring ball.
The Hurricanes’ top tackle targets: Fort Scott (Ks.) Community College’s Jared Goldwire and St. Louis-based four-star Michael Thompson, who is scheduled to visit UM in late January.
Among ends, UM is recruiting four-star Plantation American Heritage end/outside linebacker Andrew Chatfield (the No. 224 overall prospect), Virginia based four-star Chris Collins (a North Carolina commit), Missouri-based Daniel Carson (No. 25 weakside defensive end) and Kissimmee four-star end Dennis Briggs.
Carson, who visited UM this weekend, is big enough to play tackle and would be a strong addition. So would the versatile 6-1, 214-pound Chatfield, who is rated the No. 16 outside linebacker by Rivals. Briggs is considered less likely at this point.
• Linebacker: UM has two committed: South Dade three-star defensive end Patrick Joyner (a former FSU commit) and Hialeah Champagnat’s four-star Gregory Rousseau, who will be a hybrid linebacker/rush end at Miami and had 70 tackles, 11 sacks and two forced fumbles this season.
Rousseau will be at UM for spring ball; Joyner won’t be.
Meanwhile, Seffner-based James Miller remains on UM’s radar but reportedly doesn’t have an offer. The aforementioned defensive linemen - and a couple of defensive backs - appear to be priorities with UM’s limited remaining scholarships.
• Defensive backs: Miami’s class is loaded with very good prospects, but the Hurricanes still want to add another cornerback and safety.
The top cornerback targets: Plantation American Heritage’s five-star Patrick Surtain (the No.1 corner and No. 6 overall prospect) and four-star Tyson Campbell (No. 11 corner and 88 overall).
Both had good in-home visits with UM coaches last week, and while Surtain has long been considered an LSU lean, Miami cannot be discounted.
UM continues to try to flip four-star FSU cornerback Asante Samuel from FSU; he’s rated by Rivals as the No. 6 corner and No. 39 overall prospect. This is an uphill climb for UM, but the Canes should not be ruled out with Samuel.
Already orally committed to UM: four-star cornerbacks Al Blades Jr. of St. Thomas Aquinas; plus four-star safety/corners Gilbert Frierson of Coral Gables High and Gurvan Hall of Palm Beach Gardens High, as well as South Dade three-star cornerback D.J. Ivey, who had five interceptions this season.
Ivey, Frierson and Hall plan to enroll in January.
Though former Columbus High corner Josh Jobe (now going to school in Connecticut) remains a UM oral commit, he has said nothing in weeks to suggest he’s coming.
According to multiple web sites, he has made up his mind among UM, Alabama (where he will visit in the coming days) and potentially Michigan, with a decision to be announced Dec. 20-22.
If UM doesn’t land Jobe, it likely would turn to Jonathan Huggins, a former FSU commit. And UM long has had interest in Jensen Beach four-star prospect Jamien Sherwood, an Auburn oral commitment.
• Kicker: UM also has a commitment from two-star Texas-based kicker Bubba Baxa, who is in line to replace graduating Michael Badgley.
Baxa was 35 for 36 on extra points but just 4 for 10 on field goals this year, including a miss from 57 yards. He has a strong leg and had two 50-yard field goals (50 and 54). But Rivals doesn’t rate him among the top kickers in this class.
And UM must hope that Baxa is better next season than freshman punter Zach Feagles was this season.
We will have Heat posts late this week and more Dolphins, UM and Marlins blogs resuming the week of Dec. 18.