Barry Jackson

Hurricanes keep stockpiling talent at wide receiver

Southridge alum Mark Pope (3) is one of several top receivers UM is adding in 2018. And more are on the way in 2019.
Southridge alum Mark Pope (3) is one of several top receivers UM is adding in 2018. And more are on the way in 2019.

Not only are the Hurricanes in the mix for at least five high-end running backs for the 2019 class, as we chronicled here on Tuesday, but they’re also poised to add to two positions they augmented dramatically in the 2018 class — receiver and tight end.

A look at UM’s 2019 commitments and targets at those positions:

▪ At receiver, UM already has two 2019 oral commitments, both from four-star prospects: Brieon Fuller of Doral Academy (rated by ESPN as the 92nd-best player in the 2019 class) and Neptune Beach-Fletcher High’s Jeremiah Payton (rated the 105th-best 2019 recruit by ESPN).

Fuller chose UM over Georgia, North Carolina State and West Virginia, among others. ESPN said he “displays good length and speed. Demonstrates quickness out of breaks as a route-runner and ... will break tackles after the catch showing wiry strength. Needs to add weight and strength.”

Payton chose UM over Alabama, Georgia, UF, Arkansas and others.

ESPN’s assessment: “Wiry, long player with good feet. Good length to shield defenders from the ball. Good body control to make adjustments and has a wide catch radius.... Speed is competitive, but not a burner.”

UM can be very selective beyond those two, because it’s loaded with skilled underclassmen at receiver.

In 2019, UM will have Ahmmon Richards (if he doesn’t turn pro after next season), Lawrence Cager, Jeff Thomas, Mike Harley Jr., Evidence Njoku, Brian Hightower, Mark Pope, Daquris Wiggins, Marquez Ezzard and whoever signs for 2019.

A high priority now is landing South Dade High receiver Frank Ladson, rated by Rivals as the No. 28 receiver and 154th-best overall prospect.

“I have very high thoughts about Miami,” he told Canesport. “I have a good relationship with [receiver coach] Ron Dugans, Mark Richt, the whole staff.”

Georgia, Penn State, UF and Auburn are also very much in the mix.

And here’s a twist: Rivals said Ladson and teammate Tyrique Stevenson, a four-star cornerback, are a package deal. UM also wants Stevenson.

▪  Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna’s John Dunmore is rated by Rivals as a better prospect than Fuller, Ladson and Patton, but he told Rivals in recent weeks that he’s still awaiting a Miami offer and would strongly consider the Canes if he gets one.

Georgia, Ohio State and UF are very much in the mix here.

ESPN, incidentally, disagrees with Rivals’ rankings and rates Ladson the best receiver of those four, and No. 37 among all prospects — 117 spots ahead of where Rivals rates him.

▪ UM also has made an offer to Houston-based 6-3 receiver Jalen Curry, rated by ESPN as the 41st-best player in the 2019 class, and he told Canesport that his dad is a big UM fan and he’s considering the Canes among 34 offers.

Miami also is pursuing four-star Georgia-based Ramel Keyton and four-star Louisiana based Devonta Lee but isn’t a favorite for either.

▪ Among tight ends, UM has an oral commitment from Tampa Jesuit’s Larry Hodges and has made offers to at least three others: Texas-based four-star Jalen Wydermyer, Lakeland High’s four-star Keon Zipperer and three-star Riverdale, Georgia-based Jaelyn Lay.

Lay told Canesport that tight ends coach Todd Hartley told him Lay reminds him of David Njoku.

Wydermyer said Njoku is his favorite player and told Canesport that he’s “very interested in UM,” with Baylor, UF, SMU, Houston and Tulsa among his other offers.

Zipperer is the highest rated of those three, tabbed by Rivals as the nation’s No. 100 prospect and No. 3 tight end. He said UM will be in his top 10.

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