Barry Jackson

UM targeting more quarterbacks and tight ends in 2019 recruiting class

Miami Hurricanes quarterbacks coach Jon Richt, son of head coach Mark Richt, speaks after a practice in March. Richt has been eyeballing quarterbacks for the 2019 recruiting class.
Miami Hurricanes quarterbacks coach Jon Richt, son of head coach Mark Richt, speaks after a practice in March. Richt has been eyeballing quarterbacks for the 2019 recruiting class. Miami Herald Staff

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:

So what happens if UM doesn’t land Oregon-based four-star prospect Michael Johnson Jr., who's their primary QB focus in 2019 recruiting?

Miami is poking around on other quarterbacks, but it might be difficult to land a top one if the Canes don’t get Johnson.

Among the quarterbacks on Rivals’ list of the top 250 prospects, Miami has offers out to at least three others besides Johnson, according to Rivals. And all three are orally committed elsewhere:

Kansas-based four-star Graham Mertz, who’s a Wisconsin commit; North Carolina-based four-star Sam Howell, who’s an FSU commit; and Arizona-based four-star Spencer Rattler, the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat QB who’s an Oklahoma oral commitment.

Mertz told Canesport’s Matt Shodell that “I hear from Miami, have family down there, so I might visit. I’ve been on the phone with [quarterbacks coach] Jon Richt — we have talked but I never made it for a visit. I know a lot about Miami. You can tell the program’s changing. Coach [Mark] Richt is doing a great job. It’s going to be a great program over the next few years. Right now, I’m still with Wisconsin.”

UM badly wants Johnson, rated by Rivals as the 122nd-best player in the 2019 class. He recently named seven finalists: UM, LSU, Nebraska, Penn State, North Carolina State, Arizona State and Oregon (where his father is an assistant coach).

"Coach Richt, if not the most, is one of the most-respected coaches in college football, and his staff, and they’ve recruited me from Day One,'' Johnson told an Oregon radio station earlier this month. "Coach [Jon] Richt has been to my school at least eight or nine times over this past six months."

The good news for UM is that Johnson said he hopes to make a decision by the end of June or July, giving UM time to find a quarterback if it doesn’t land Johnson.

And the other piece of good news is that it’s not absolutely essential that the Hurricanes add a high-end QB prospect in this class because N’Kosi Perry is a redshirt freshman and Jarren Williams is a true freshman who might redshirt if he doesn’t win the starting job (odds are against that) or the backup job.

If UM doesn’t get Johnson or the three aforementioned quarterbacks, the Canes could turn to three-star St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback Curt Casteel, who reportedly has three major offers — from Boston College, Cincinnati and Syracuse.

Miami also has been monitoring three-star David Baldwin of IMG Academy. Baldwin, who grew up in California, has offers from Florida and Georgia, among others, but not Miami, according to Rivals.

UM wants to keep adding top tight end prospects even after signing two in this class (Will Mallory and Brevin Jordan).

Four-star Lakeland-based Keon Zipperer, rated by Rivals as the No. 7 tight end in the 2019 class, told Canesport that UM will make his five finalists.

“[Tight ends coach Todd] Hartley said how Miami wants me and everything,” Zipperer told Canesport’s Gary Ferman. “Miami’s recruiting me really hard.”

He said UM has “a good chance,” and he will announce his plans during his senior season.

Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Oklahoma and North Carolina are among others pursuing him.

UM also is in the mix for three-star Texas-based tight end Jalen Wydermyer. He plans to visit UM later this year.

Why is UM appealing to him?

“They’re up and coming. It’s Tight End University,” Wydermyer told Canesport. “It’s something I can be a part of and I know coach Hartley can get me right if I go there.”

Canesport rates him the No. 13 tight end prospect in the 2019 class.

UM wants to be able to compete with Alabama, Georgia and others for the elite of the elite in recruiting, and so it’s encouraging that five-star receiver Jadon Haselwood, a Georgia oral commitment, flew to Miami with his parents recently and spent four hours on campus.

Asked by Canesport if he should be listed as a solid or soft Georgia commit, Haselwood said, “No comment.”

Asked about Miami’s chances, he said: “Just know they have my interest, and it’s strong.”

Miami’s best chances of landing an elite out-of-state recruit might be in Georgia, because several members of the coaching staff — Thomas Brown, Hartley, Jess Simpson, among others — have strong connections there.

UM athletic director Blake James offered more details this week about UM’s encouraging situation with ticket sales.

He said the Hurricanes will cut off season ticket sales at just less than 47,000; less than 3,700 remain to reach that target.

UM will sell individual tickets only for home games in which the opposing team does not use their full allotment of tickets — which will likely be the case for most games but probably not for the Oct. 6 FSU game.

UM will honor retiring baseball coach Jim Morris at 12:40 p.m. before its home finale, a 1 p.m. game on May 19 against Boston College. It likely won’t be his last game, with Miami (21-25) expected to be eligible for the ACC tournament but unlikely to make the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row.

Every ACC team makes the ACC tournament except those with the two lowest winning percentages; UM is not among those two.

Morris — who’s retiring after 41 years of coaching, including 25 at UM — will be replaced by assistant Gino DiMare.

Morris' former players have been invited to the ceremony. Karen Fraser, the widow of legendary former UM coach Ron Fraser, is expected to be among those in attendance.

Quick stuff: As of early this week, Dewan Huell had not informed the UM basketball staff if he will withdraw his name from the NBA draft pool and return to college. UM officials remain hopeful but not certain. But it’s telling that Huell wasn’t invited to the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago; NBA-bound Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown were invited. Walker and Brown have hired agents; Huell has not, making him eligible to return to school…

The Cleveland Browns continue to become UM north. They have added four Hurricanes this offseason — Chad Thomas, Jermaine Grace, Justin Vogel and executive Alonzo Highsmith. Duke Johnson and David Njoku already are on the roster.