Barry Jackson

Why UM missed out on these recruits and why a coach told angry fans to ‘shut their mouth’

UM cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph said he did all he could to lure players from the football program at Plantation American Heritage, where he previously coached. UM landed one of its four targets from that school.
UM cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph said he did all he could to lure players from the football program at Plantation American Heritage, where he previously coached. UM landed one of its four targets from that school. mocner@miamiherald.com

Some Hurricanes notes on a Thursday in the wake of National Signing Day:

▪ Even though UM finished with a class ranked in the top eight of all major recruiting services, there was griping from Canes fans this week — partly because UM couldn’t land more defensive line help late in the process, and partly because the Canes snagged only one of the top four recruits from Plantation American Heritage, even though UM cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph was the head coach there as recently as 2015.

While UM signed four-star defensive tackle Nesta Silvera, Miami failed to land five-star cornerbacks Pat Surtain Jr. (Alabama) or Tyson Campbell (Georgia) or four-star defensive end Andrew Chatfield (Florida).

Rumph indicated there’s nothing he really could have done differently.

“All I can say is I know us and the staff worked as hard as we could to get them,” he said Wednesday. “We pushed as hard as we could. The kids aren’t the same as they used to be. The game has totally changed. At the end of the day kids want to go where they think they’ll have the best opportunity to win. And I wish their families all the tremendous best that they go and do some great things. I’m just excited about what we have in our room.”

Surtain’s decision to pick Alabama over LSU and UM was fueled by the belief he had a better chance of winning there.

“There’s over [there] a coach who wins championships,” Surtain Jr. said of Nick Saban. “I want to be part of that winning culture.”

In Chatfield’s case, he said: “UF was just a more special place. I just felt there was something different about the Gators.”

American Heritage linebacker Andrew Chatfield talks about signing with the University of Florida on National Signing Day, Feb. 7, 2018.

Matt Doherty, the Hurricanes’ director of player personnel, told WQAM’s Joe Rose and Zach Krantz on Thursday that Rumph shouldn’t be blamed for UM’s American Heritage misses.

“It’s completely unfair in my opinion,” Doherty said. “You can’t bully a kid going into a school because of a past relationship with an individual. Mike did phenomenal job maintaining job with those kids for two years. It just didn’t work out. We took our best shot. We don’t feel like we left anything undone. We did everything we could possibly do within the rules, within our power to woo those guys. It’s no one individual’s fault.”

Surtain — the American Heritage coach, former Dolphins cornerback and father of Surtain Sr. — told WQAM’s Rose and Krantz that fans bashing Rumph on social media, “need to sit down and shut their mouth. They’re not doing justice to the process and the players they have. Mike has done a great job getting players. He’s got good players in DJ Ivey, Al Blades and some other kids. Miami is going to be fine. Going on an official visit [to UM with his son] last week and spending time with those guys and coach [Mark] Richt, I was really impressed and have an affinity for those guys. They do it the right way.

“Coach Rumph is not going to get everybody. People are acting like these kids are going to the NFL. They are 17-year-old kids and making decisions that are best for themselves. I relayed that message to coach Rumph. He’s doing an excellent job for that secondary he had last year and the year before, look what he did with it. He has some terrific players in his ’18 class.”

▪ More from Doherty on this UM offensive class, from his conversation with WQAM: “The offensive class, top to bottom, is our first choice everywhere. The tight end position, those were our top targets to fill specific roles [Will Mallory, Brevin Jordan].”

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt speaks to reporters about how his team did on National Signing Day at the University of Miami's Schwartz Center in Coral Gables on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018.

He said receiver Mark Pope “will be with us in May. I think he’s the best wide receiver in America. This year we added speed with size [at receiver]. I don’t think we could have a better receiving haul.”

▪ In that WQAM interview, Doherty was effusive about the two defensive tackles UM added in this class — Silvera and three-star Jacksonville-based Jordan Miller.

“Jordan Miller was a gift from the heavens,” Doherty said. “He flew so far under the radar for everybody and didn’t emerge until the final week. It slipped by all major programs of significance. When we got a hold of his tape…. 6-4, 330, the quickness, the explosiveness, the get-off.”

Doherty admitted he worried about Silvera flipping to another school: “I was a wreck personally over that one. I try to keep it

The University of Miami signed one of the top-ranked defensive lineman in the country, American Heritage's Nesta Silvera, on National Signing Day.

professional. There are very few prospects I develop a relationship with personally. The two of us took a liking to each other. He had us shook there at the end. He’s the best defensive tackle in the country in my opinion.

▪ The NCAA is permitting 10 assistant coaches for football beginning this season – one more than past years - and look for UM to name Jon Patke to the 10th position.

Patke is expected to coach outside linebackers, among other things. He was UM’s quality control coach the past two seasons and previously worked with UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz at Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State.

▪ Keep an eye on UM with regard to two Clemson defensive linemen who are transferring — end/tackle Sterling Johnson (who has two years of eligibility left) and backup tackle Jabril Robinson (who has one).

Johnson was rated the 109th-best player overall by ESPN — and the 19th best defensive end — in the 2015 class. He had 14 tackles, including three for loss, and two sacks in 11 games last season.

Several UM football officials, including defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, have started following Johnson on Twitter.

Richt said he would add a grad transfer on the defense line if a “great” one emerges.

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