Highlights from Mark Richt’s National Signing Day news conference on Wednesday:
• Though UM lost out on five of seven targets on Wednesday, the class — as of this morning — was ranked in the top seven nationally of all recruiting services, with high-end talent at running back, receiver, tight end, quarterback and cornerback, in particular.
UM added 23 players in this class, including four on Wednesday: cornerback Nigel Bethel, receiver Marquez Ezzard and defensive tackles Jordan Miller and Nesta Silvera.
“I am thrilled about our 2018 class. One of the best ones I’ve ever been involved in,” Richt said. “About 80 percent of our class is from Florida.”
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Richt said UM added two graduate transfers but he cannot disclose their identity. One is believed to be Illinois defensive tackle Tito Odenigbo. Richt said the other is an offensive lineman.
• More Richt: “We got a kicker, which we absolutely need. On offense... four receivers, a complete class.... Five defensive backs, guys that are really talented and a linebacker as well. Linebacker, one by design. We didn’t feel that was a huge need.”
• On Silvera: “I did get a phone call from him. He is very happy, very excited. We think he’s the best three-technique in the state of Florida.”
• On Miller: “We feel Jordan Miller is the best nose guard. I saw him relatively late in the game and I kept saying what’s wrong? There’s no way this guy can be this good and not be spoken for yet.”
• He said Ezzard is “a very physical guy and plays like heavyweight boxer.”
• He said cornerback Bethel has “the speed and the ball skills of a receiver.”
• Richt said Will Mallory and Brevin Jordan, who both signed with UM, were UM’s top tight end targets. “We were in desperate need of quality tight ends to come in here and carry the tradition of tight end U.... What’s overlooked is Realus George, the No. 1 fullback in America. He’s 255 pounds right now, strong, very much like Marquez Williams we had [in 2016].”
• He said “we battled our way into the nation’s consciousness when it comes to college football. Everyone knew Miami again. To have the success we’ve had, to have the moments that we had at Hard Rock. The night games, the Virginia Tech, the Notre Dame game, are one of the biggest moments you can have in a season. We showed the fan base. I am sure season tickets will be at an all-time high.”
• On quarterback: “We saw Jarren Williams as a very mature guy with a very good ability to pass the ball. He’s more a pocket passer who can run. Not a runner who can throw. Him being here for spring ball is huge. We like him a lot. We want him to compete. Malik [Rosier] is our starting quarterback but like everybody else, has to prove it should stay that way.”
• Richt said Scott Patchan, who played tight end last season, will move back to defensive end. He said UM would consider adding a great player if one emerges in the grad transfer market.
“We think we have enough within our roster to take care of inside and outside of our defensive line,” he said.
• Richt said: “If we keep recruiting like this, there will be a lot of happy Hurricanes fans.”
• Richt said UM has space to add grad transfers or anyone else to the roster but declined to offer specific numbers. “We are a class away from solidifying 85... to play championship football.”
• He said of the early enrollees, “the first who got my attention was [defensive end] Greg Rousseau. In a month, he gained 15 pounds. Big, long guy, beautiful looking kid.
“The only information we have is what’s going on in the strength room. Gus Felder [the strength coach] is thrilled. They are trying to make that great first impression.
“[Cornerback] Gilbert Frierson, tall, long athletic corner. [Cornerback] D.J. Ivey same thing, tall, young athletic. Gurvan Hall, a safety, looks great. Lorenzo Lingard, what you would expect from a guy who’s one of the best running backs in America. He’s busting his tail. Dee Wiggins, doing a great job. Delone Scaife, John Campbell, two offensive linemen, getting ahead of the game.”