Barry Jackson

Miami Hurricanes’ strong backfield might be getting stronger

UM offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown will have a deep and talented backfield in 2018 and is trying to add more highly-recruited backs for 2019.
UM offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown will have a deep and talented backfield in 2018 and is trying to add more highly-recruited backs for 2019.

After assembling one of the nation’s best groups of skill position players in the 2018 recruiting class, the Hurricanes are laying the groundwork to do it again.

UM already has 2019 oral commitments from a four-star receiver from Doral Academy, a Jacksonville running back who had offers from Georgia, Penn State and UCLA and a tight end who Miami coaches have compared to David Njoku.

But for this 2019 haul to feature another elite offensive class, UM must land at least a couple of the four-star running backs and tight ends that it is very much in the mix for, plus another top-150 quarterback after snagging N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams the past two years.

UM’s group of 2019 oral commitments is rated second by Rivals, behind only Georgia, and six of those commits play offense.

Among offensive players, that group includes these six:

Doral Academy four-star receiver Brieon Fuller, who committed, then decommitted, and then committed back to Miami in 72 hours last spring. Rated by Rivals as the No. 21 receiver and 121st-best player in this 2019 class, Fuller has a bunch of other offers, including Georgia and West Virginia.

Jacksonville-based three-star running back Marcus Crowley. He averaged 6.3 per carry last season (190 for 1,200) with 12 touchdowns and UM coaches compare him to Travis Homer. Georgia, Nebraska, Penn State and UCLA were among his other offers.

Tampa Jesuit three-star tight end Larry Hodges, who chose UM over Virginia Tech, Louisville and North Carolina. “Coaches said I can be like David Njoku because I can flex out or play on the line, go out wide, go to H-back.”

Three offensive linemen have orally committed: three-star tackles Renato Brown (Palm Beach Central) and Brandon Cunningham (Ocean Springs, Mississippi) and three-star Jacksonville-based guard Kingley Eguakun.

UPDATE: Four-star receiver Jeremiah Payton committed to UM Tuesday afternoon. ESPN rates him the 20th best receiver and 105th best player for 2019. So that’s seven offensive commitments.

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.

RUNNING BACK TARGETS

▪ Even after adding five-star Lorenzo Lingard and four-star Camron Davis in this 2018 class, UM is in the mix for six top running backs (besides Crowley) and appears to have a good shot with at least four of them.

The most ambitious targets are Bradenton-based IMG Academy teammates Trey Sanders (rated by Rivals as the nation’s No. 2 back) and Noah Cain (rated the fifth).

Sanders oddly decommitted from Alabama hours before its playoff semifinal game this year but said the Crimson Tide is still his favorite. UM is an underdog here, even though UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown was the first coach to contact him after his decommitment from Alabama.

Miami might have a slightly better shot with Cain, who likes UM, Clemson, LSU, Texas and UCLA, among others.

“Miami has come back in the picture a little bit,” Cain told 247sports last month. “I know they were recruiting the ’18 class real hard, so I’ve been talking to them a lot recently. It fell off during the season and then it picked back up recently in December. It picked back up a lot.”

▪  Four-star Mark Antony Richards. The four-star all purpose back from Wellington High is rated the 22nd-best overall prospect for 2019, and UM has a decent chance here. His brother is UM receiver Ahmmon Richards, though the younger Richards said that won’t be much of a factor in his decision. UF, Clemson, Alabama and Auburn are also in the mix.

▪ Four-star running back Kenny McIntosh. The Davie University School student and brother of departing UM defensive tackle Richard McIntosh has high interest in UM.

“I’m definitely thinking about staying home,” he said Canesport. “My friends and family can come see me play.”

He said Ohio State, Stanford, Michigan and Alabama are also in the mix. He’s rated the No. 133rd-best 2019 prospect by Rivals.

McIntosh and four-star cornerback Joshua Sanguinetti have interest in going to the same school, and UM is very much in the mix for both.

▪ Four-star Daniel Carter. The Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas prospect told Rivals that UM is “definitely” high on his list. He’s also looking at Georgia, Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Rivals rates him the No. 3 running back and No. 20 prospect nationally.

▪ Four-star Nay’Quan Wright. The Carol City High prospect is rated the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose back by Rivals and the 131st-best overall prospect. He’s in contact with Davis and UM linebacker De’Andre Wilder and “I’m hearing nothing but awesome news about the school from them,” Wright told Canesport.

UM also has made an offer to three-star Orange Park prospect Keshawn King.

If UM takes two or three backs for 2019, it will be fascinating to see which of the above end up joining Crowley, provided he ends up at UM. That will make the Canes even more loaded at the position for 2019, with Lingard, Davis, Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas already on board, along with Robert Burns.

QUARTERBACK PURSUIT

As far as quarterbacks, UM would like to add one for 2019 and has targeted Eugene, Oregon-based Michael Johnson Jr., rated by Rivals has the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback and No. 109 overall prospect.

Though his father coaches at Oregon, Johnson told Canesport that UM “definitely has a chance with me. I love the coaching staff.”

LSU, Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and TCU are also in the mix.

UM’s top 2020 quarterback target is Neptune Beach-based Devon Lingle.

We’ll explore the receiver and tight end targets in a Wednesday post.

Here’s a look at where UM stands in defensive 2019 recruiting.

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