A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday:
▪ Even before D.J. Johnson surprised UM officials this week by telling them he is transferring because of a family health issue, the Canes already planned to sign one or two more defensive ends on Feb. 7.
That becomes imperative now, with Johnson and graduating Chad Thomas and Darion Owens also departing.
UM’s top three defensive ends next season almost assuredly will be Joe Jackson, Demetrius Jackson and Jon Garvin.
UM coaches love incoming freshman Gregory Rousseau, the four-star Hialeah Champagnat product who has a real chance to the No. 4 defensive end.
“I am excited to see what we can turn Greg Rousseau into,” UM player personnel director Matt Doherty said on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline on Tuesday. “He’s 6-6, 220 pounds but looks 180. I am so excited to see the creature [strength and conditioning coach] Gus Felder and [UM nutritionist] Kyle Bellamy will turn this guy into from a physical development [standpoint].”
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz told me that Rousseau will primarily be an end at UM, with the ability to play some linebacker in a hybrid role.
But even if Rousseau has the same impact Garvin had as a freshman, four defensive ends is obviously not enough.
So UM could move Scott Patchan back to defensive end — a position he left only because of a grave need at tight end and because he was buried on the depth chart at defensive end.
And UM badly needs to add another freshmen end who’s ready to play.
UM has been targeting Plantation American Heritage’s four-star Andrew Chatfield, rated the 224th best recruit nationally by Rivals. At 6-1 and 214 pounds, he will need to bulk up to play defensive end. Rivals lists him as a linebacker. UM is considered the front-runner for Chatfield.
UM also has been pursuing Missouri-based Daniel Carson, rated by Rivals as the 25th best strongside defensive end. At 6-5 and 270 pounds, Carson certainly has enough size. Carson likes Miami but also reportedly is considering Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas.
Miami has considered pursuing St. Thomas Aquinas’s four-star Nik Bonitto, rated the No. 17 weakside defensive end in this class by Rivals. He has good height at 6-4 but needs to bulk up from 200 to move from linebacker to defensive end.
Some new potential targets also might surface.
If Kendrick Norton and Richard McIntosh bypass the NFL and return for their senior season (they’re both still considering their options), then UM would have good depth at tackle, with Gerald Willis, Pat Bethel, Jon Ford and Nesta Silvera behind them.
So perhaps defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski could get creative with packages, which would help compensate for less than ideal depth at defensive end.
McIntosh will meet with Mark Richt in the next several days. It’s 50/50 whether he leaves.
• Doherty said the “level of depth in the secondary was ridiculous” among players available for the 2018 class, and UM took advantage of that by signing four defensive backs.
“In 2019, receivers is really good, defensive line is really, really good, really good. We will be looking at a lot of very quality defensive linemen in the 2019 class.”
Regarding the talent that’s available in South Florida, Doherty said: “If you want raw, explosive talent, this is the place you come. Just ridiculous explosiveness - the further south you come, the more of it you see, in my opinion.”
• Several UM commits reportedly have been impressing at practices in Orlando this week in advance of Thursday’s Under Armour All-American game.
Rivals’ Mark Pszonak said of UM signee Brevin Jordan, the four-star tight end: “While the tight end group isn’t the deepest or strongest positional group in Orlando this week, Jordan has continuously proven himself to be the cream of the crop. ring the first three practices, he has become a favorite of the Team Highlight quarterbacks, especially during red zone drills, where he often is a mismatch against slower linebackers or smaller defensive backs. He brings a nice combination of size, athleticism and smarts to the position, which should give him the opportunity to be an early contributor at Miami. The Canes have produced a number of top tight ends during the last 20 years, and Jordan has all the tools to add his name to this list.”
• Rivals recruiting analyst Adam Friedman said Plantation American Heritage defensive tackle Nesta Silvera, who plans to sign with UM on Feb. 7, “has been one of the most disruptive defensive lineman on either team at the Army All American bowl practices [in San Antonio]. He’s 6-2, 6-3, a hair over 300 pounds. His quickness off the snap has caught so many offensive linemen off guard. He is able to play outside and inside, beating guards and tackles. The line have a hard time slowing him down. I love the way he’s physical in the running game. When there’s a pass, he does a good job collapsing the pocket. Miami has a good one in Silvera.
• Rivals recruiting analyst Adam Gorney, after observing UM commit Brian Hightower at Army All American bowl practices in San Antonio this week: “I would like to see more consistency from him from time to time because I think he can be a dominant outside receiver. What has really stood out this week in San Antonio is his ability to make the difficult catch. He has gone over some of the best cornerbacks to win some 50/50 balls. That is where he will be utilized most - an outside receiver who can stretch the field. He can be a guy near the end zone they can throw the ball to and he can go up and get it. He’s made some really tough catches with cornerbacks blanketing him during one-on-ones. What we need to see more from Hightower is that consistently dominant performance. I think he has the ability to do it.”
• Class of 2019 defensive back Josh Sanguinetti told Rivals.com that “the turnover chain is bringing the swag back to the U.” Miami is among the schools he’s considering. Sanguinetti, from University School in Fort Lauderdale, is rated the 42nd best player in the 2019 class.... Former UM star Alonzo Highsmith, who worked in the Green Bay Packers personnel department for the past 19 years, is joining the Cleveland Browns as vice president/football operations.