Barry Jackson

As Signing Day approaches, Miami Hurricanes making a late push for defensive line help

Miami’s Mark Richt with Orange Bowl mascot Obie during the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl Head Coaches news conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel on Dec. 6. Richt is pushing hard to add defensive linemen before National Signing Day on Feb. 7.
Miami’s Mark Richt with Orange Bowl mascot Obie during the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl Head Coaches news conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel on Dec. 6. Richt is pushing hard to add defensive linemen before National Signing Day on Feb. 7. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Having lost its two starting defensive tackles and a key reserve, UM is making a late push to add interior defensive line players in advance of National Signing Day on Feb. 7.

UM didn’t sign any defensive tackles among the 19 players who committed during the mid-December early signing period, but one defensive tackle is orally committed to Miami (Plantation American Heritage’s Nesta Silvera) and UM is vigorously pursuing three others: three-star end/tackle Jamarcus Chatman, four-star tackle Keondre Coburn (a Texas oral commitment) and three-star Jacksonville Sandalwood tackle Jordan Miller.

Miller was an under-the-radar prospect who was committed to Georgia Southern before he put together a highlight tape from his senior year. That senior tape was enough to draw offers from Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Virginia and UM in the past two weeks.

Before playing his senior year at Sandalwood, he played at Palatka, which went largely unnoticed by major programs. There are questions about the quality of competition he faced, but UM sees considerable upside in the 6-4, 330-pound Miller.

Miller told Canesport.com that “Miami’s No. 1 of course. I’ve been in Florida all my life, always watched the Hurricanes. I have a passion for the Canes — it’s always been my dream to go there.”

Miller was set to host an in-home visit with five UM coaches on Monday night.

9 PM MONDAY UPDATE: MILLER ORALLY COMMITTED TO UM TONIGHT.

Meanwhile, UM coach Mark Richt and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski were in Houston Sunday for an in-home visit with Coburn, who’s a top priority.

After the visit, Coburn told Canesport: “It’s pretty much down to Texas and Miami and I’m committed to Texas still so they’d be ahead right now.”

University of Miami football coach Mark Richt talks about the 18 players who signed on Dec. 20, 2017 to play at UM.

Coburn visited UM nine days ago and has made clear his respect for Kuligowski and his ability to prepare linemen for the NFL. But Texas has an edge with regard to distance to his home.

Coburn is rated the No. 12 defensive tackle prospect and 167th best prospect overall by Rivals.

The Georgia-based Chatman, who some view as a defensive end, visited Virginia Tech and FSU the past two weekends and will visit UM next weekend.

After losing juniors Richard McIntosh Jr. and Kendrick Norton to the NFL as well as senior Anthony Moten, UM has four defensive tackles currently on scholarship: Patrick Bethel, Gerald Willis, Jon Ford and Tyriec Martin (who hasn’t played his first two seasons here).

Besides Silvera, UM also is expected to add grad transfer Tito Odenigbo, who started four games for Illinois last season.

UM lost out on Kissimmee four-star tackle Dennis Briggs, who told The Miami Herald earlier in January that he was leaning toward going to UM but ultimately picked FSU on Sunday.

RECEIVER VISITS

UM is pursuing one more offensive playmaker for this class, and its interest in Georgia-based four-star receiver Marquez Ezzard is clearly mutual.

Ezzard, rated the nation’s 44th-best receiver by Rivals, visited UM this past weekend and his father Mardy told Canesport’s Matt Shodell that “he kind of likes Miami a little better than Mississippi. I think he likes the Miami situation better, and he may commit soon.”

If Ezzard commits, he would further solidify an already exceptional incoming class at receiver, featuring five-star Mark Pope, four-star Brian Hightower and speedy Daquris Wiggins.

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