How good is this 2018 UM recruiting class — much of which will be signed during a new early three-day signing period that begins Wednesday?
Mike Farrell, national recruiting director for Rivals.com, said this is likely UM’s best recruiting class in more than a decade, since before Randy Shannon’s hiring in 2007.
“They are No. 2 right now [behind Ohio State] and they are set to finish in the top five,” Farrell said by phone this week. “I don’t see them staying at No. 2. Georgia will make a move. Alabama is No. 9 and will push up. But Miami is a legit top five class.
“Al Golden would be 22 commitments deep and they would be the No. 1 class in the summer. But by the time everyone caught up, they would finish in the 15 to 25 range. This class is talented enough to stay in the top 5.”
At least a dozen of UM’s 20 oral commitments are expected to sign this week.
So who’s the best player in this class?
Farrell points to five-star Orange Park running back Lorenzo Lingard.
“He has the most upside of anyone in this class,” Farrell said. “He has the size, the leg drive, is fast. An angular runner who makes people miss. He has potential to be best running back they’ve had in a long time.”
Farrell, on some of the others: “I like [Miami Southridge’s] Mark Pope a lot; he’s not very big [6-1] but he’s a catch-and-run receiver, can turn something small into something big…. [Las Vegas-based] Brevin Jordan is a typical flex tight end that will stretch the field for you. Very athletic kid….
“[IMG Academy receiver] Brian Hightower is a very talented kid but very erratic. He kind of disappears at times. He has to get involved early and then he’s great. If he’s not involved early, he can disappear. We have him 217th in the country but he’s dropped each of the last three cycles. We expected him to take the next step and he hasn’t done it. He’s a big target [at 6-3], more than Pope but Pope excites you because he can run after the catch.”
Defensively, “[St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback] Al Blades hasn’t turned it on with reaching his potential,” Farrell said. “We keep waiting for that to happen and it hasn’t, but I think he will do that. Good size [at 6-0]….
“[Coral Gables defensive back] Gilbert Frierson stands out because he’s so big. He’s a big safety who likes to hit. Can play strong safety but also has the range to play free safety. Miami doesn’t have the biggest guys in the world in the secondary; they have athletic playmakers but not big thumpers — Frierson can be one of those guys…. [Four-star Plantation American Heritage defensive tackle] Nesta Silvera is a plugger. He’s a better fit for a 3-4 defense more than [UM’s] 4-3. Will be better against the run than the pass. Physically, he’s ready to play” as a backup.
Silvera isn’t expected to sign this week because he wants to accompany uncommitted teammates Andrew Chatfield (a defensive end) and Tyson Campbell (a cornerback) on their UM visits in January.
What about incoming quarterback Jarren Williams, rated by Rivals as the 106th-best player in this class?
“Jarren Williams did not have a great sophomore year,” Farrell said. “His mechanics weren’t good. Was really raw with accuracy; wasn’t an elite quarterback when he committed to Kentucky.
“Then his senior year everything changed. His mechanics were fixed; his accuracy and footwork got so much better than the year before. That’s when schools like Miami and Alabama started coming in and saying that’s a kid we want to get. Before that, he was more of a Kentucky level recruit. He’s not as athletic as N’Kosi Perry at all as far as being a runner but he’s a better natural passer than Perry.”
• According to Canesport, incoming UM players who are expected to enroll Jan. 10 and be available for spring football include Lingard, Hightower, Williams, Frierson, plus guard/tackle Delone Scaife, cornerback D.J. Ivey, safety Gurvan Hall, linebacker/end Gregory Roussseau, receiver Daquris Wiggins and offensive lineman John Campbell.
Here’s my six-pack of UM nuggets from earlier Tuesday afternoon, including some news on N’Kosi Perry and juniors considering turning pro.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz