The Miami Hurricanes welcomed a new batch of recruits to campus over the past two days — including their first five-star receiver this decade (Mark Pope), a new kicker (Bubba Baxa) and a pair of highly-regarded tight ends (Brevin Jordan, Will Mallory).
What you need to know about the newcomers on offense:
RECEIVER MARK POPE
The basics: The Miami Southridge alum joins running back Lorenzo Lingard as the only five-star recruits on Miami’s roster. The Canes’ most recent Rivals.com five-star recruits had been Chad Thomas (now with the Cleveland Browns) and Tracy Howard (looking for work after being cut by the Dolphins this month with an injury) … Rated by Rivals as the 28th best player in this 2018 recruiting class and the fifth-best receiver. ... ESPN rates him much lower, as the 227th best player in this class and 35th receiver … Produced more than 1,000 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns throughout his prep career. Had 117 yards receiving and two touchdowns against Miami High in 2017 playoff game … Was high school teammates with fellow UM newcomers Daquris Wiggins and Delone Scaife. Chose Miami over offers from Alabama, Auburn and Florida.
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The outside view: ESPN.com’s scouting report: “Strengths: Tall enough with nice length. Natural receiver with soft hands and the body control to consistently catch the ball in stride. Smooth athlete with impressive change of direction skills and the ability to make defenders miss in space. ... Areas of improvement: “A little lean and will have to hit the weights. Lacks elite top end speed or explosion. One speed guy. Is not seen as a blocker on film and will need to develop this part of his game.” ... Bottom line: “Pope is a very good football player who will only get better with further physical development. At his best playing in space, we feel he has the potential to consistently move the chains at the next level especially if employed from the slot.”
The inside view: Receivers coach Ron Dugans: “Mark Pope has quicks, has speed, he can catch the football. The thing with Mark Pope is he makes a lot of contested catches. Anybody can make the easy catch. But he makes a lot of contested catches. He’s a good route runner, brings a lot to the table as far as skill set.”
Potential 2018 role: Pope’s speed and developed route running give him a chance to earn immediate playing time. Ahmmon Richards and Jeff Thomas are going to get a lot of playing time, and UM people expect freshman Brian Hightower to get regular playing time, too, after an exceptional spring. Beyond that, there will be open competition among Lawrence Cager, Dayall Harris, Darrell Langham, Mike Harley and freshmen Pope, Daquris Wiggins and Marquez Ezzard.
RECEIVER MARQUEZ EZZARD
The basics: Rated as a consensus four-star prospect by ESPN.com, 247Sports.com and Rivals.com. ... Rated the 41st wide receiver and 265thoverall prospect by ESPN.com. ... Played four seasons of varsity football, compiling 175 catches for 3,302 yards and 38 touchdowns. … Caught 46 passes for 1,023 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior, averaging 22.2yards per catch, while helping Stockbridge reach the quarterfinals of the Georgia state playoffs. … Chose Miami over offers from Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Oregon, Ole Miss, Louisville, North Carolina, Tennessee, USC, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin, among others.
The outside view: ESPN’s scouting report: “Strengths: Go-to playmaker. Plays big (6-foot-1), good length. Looks to be much more physically imposing than listed weight (200 pounds). Can take the ball away from defenders when contested. Sneaky open field change-of-direction. Strong stride and initial quickness. Good, big hands to engulf the ball. ... Areas of Improvement: Must develop as a route runner. Wins on ability rather than nuance. ... Bottom line: This kid makes a lot of plays. Confident player that is a threat at all three levels. Need to verify top end speed, but he plays fast.”
The inside view: Dugans: “I love his whole demeanor. Great kid. He brings a physical presence, physical nature you’re looking for at receiver. Aggressive catching the football. Tough runner with the ball in his hands. I’m excited about that.”
Potential 2018 role: Ezzard will need to be very impressive in August to beat out several more experienced players for a rotation spot.
FULLBACK REALUS GEORGE
The basics: Listed as the top-ranked fullback in the country by ESPN.com, 247Sports.com and Rivals.com. … Played on both sides of the ball in high school, lining up at fullback and middle linebacker. … As a senior, rushed for 306 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 5.4 yards per carry. … Led his team with 43 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2017…Chose Miami over offers from Appalachian State, Boston College, Memphis and Virginia, among others.
The outside view: ESPN.com’s scouting report: “Strengths: “Tall enough with a thick, muscular build. Possesses very good patience and vision. Runs well with deceptive speed. Powerful back who can run over tacklers and push the pile. Flashes the agility and wiggle to make defenders miss in space. Has natural hands and the ball skills to make plays on third down. ... Areas of improvement: Not exactly a burner and may have to make the transition to fullback. Does not have much experience as a blocker. ... Bottom line: George is a big, strong jumbo running back prospect. While there's a possibility he plays linebacker at the next level, we feel he is a natural runner who can develop into a bell cow at the next level.”
The inside view: Offensive coordinator ThomasBrown: "A traditional fullback, which is hard to find these days. Those guys are like dinosaurs."
Potential 2018 role: He’s assuredly going to play in some goal line and short-yardage situations and potentially could get work on some early downs if he’s as good a blocker as UM believes.
TIGHT END BREVIN JORDAN
The basics: Rated by ESPN as the 20th best player nationally and No. 1 tight end in the 2018 class … Consensus four-star prospect by ESPN, 247Sports.com and Rivals.com … Served as team captain during his senior year and helped guide Bishop Gorman to its ninth straight Nevada State Championship … Produced nearly 100 yards receiving and scored a rushing touchdown in Bishop Gorman’s 48-7 state championship victory last season … As a senior, produced single-season career highs in yards (1,111), receptions (63) and touchdowns (13) … Closed his high school career with over 1,700 yards, 100 receptions, 29 total touchdowns … Possesses great speed for his size and height, as he has been clocked at 4.78-seconds in the 40-yard dash…His father, Darrell, was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the ninth round of the 1990 NFL Draft … Chose Miami over offers from Florida, Florida State and Georgia.
The outside view: ESPN.com’s scouting report: “Strengths: Tall enough with good length and speed. Explodes off the line. Fluid athlete with the body control to make difficult catches away frame his frame. Possesses strong, natural hands. Not afraid to mix it up in the run game as a blocker. Heading into junior season needed to add size, but since has added good mass to frame ... Areas of improvement: Has added good size, but with frame now needs to watch how he adds any additional mass. Not overly explosive, especially in transition. ... Bottom line: Jordan has the size, speed and athleticism to play a few positions at the next level, but we feel his highest upside is at tight end."
The inside view: UM coach Mark Richt, to WQAM: “He is a special player. He can get on the line and block like a true tight end. He can get in the backfield as an H-back. He can run routes and can balls out of the spread look. He is very versatile and very tough. He is very motivated.You use that term alpha dog and he is that kind of guy. He is a leader and he is a guy that will play big in big games. I don’t think being a freshman will slow him down to be honest with you. I think he is going to come in and produce right away.”
Potential 2018 role: Figures to play a lot. Michael Irvin Jr. and Brian Polendey are the only returning tight ends on the roster and neither has come close to fulfilling expectations so far.
TIGHT END WILL MALLORY
The basics: Rated as the 190th best overall 2018 prospect and third-best tight end by ESPN … Caught 46 passes for 900 yards and hauled in 12 touchdowns during his junior season … Battled injuries for most of his senior season, but was very good when he was on the field, finishing with 21 catches for 364 yards and three touchdowns … Caught 11 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back from injury in 2017 … Chose Miami over offers from Georgia, Michigan and Clemson…His father, Mike, played college football at Michigan.
The outside view: ESPN.com’s scouting report: “Strengths: Possesses ideal height and a gigantic frame. Long strider with deceptive speed and very good acceleration in transition. Has soft hands and attacks the football. Strong with the ball in his hands and runs through arm tackles. ... Areas of improvement: Must add bulk and functional strength. Not quite the acrobat in the air. Needs to polish up his technique as a blocker in the run game. Must gain significant bulk and strength. ... Bottom line: Mallory is very tall [6-5] with sneaky speed and athleticism. With continued physical development and refined technique, we feel he can develop into a H-back/TE at the next level."
The inside view: Richt compares him to David Njoku but tight ends coach Todd Hartley said beyond Mallory’s receiving skills, he also “can certainly go and put his hand in the dirt and play that way the whole game. So they [Mallory and Jordan] both can do that.”
Potential 2018 role: Like Jordan, he figures to play a lot. The Jordan/Mallory tandem could be one of UM’s best combos in years, alongside Njoku and Chris Herndon.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN CLEVELAND REED
The basics: The 6-3, 327-pound guard from Fort Meade High in Florida is rated by ESPN as the seventh best guard and 143rd best overall 2018 prospect. And 247sports.com rates him the 10th best guard and 258th best player in the 2018 class ... Played on the defensive line, too, in high school..... Chose UM over Florida, Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State, among others.
The outside view: ESPN.com’s scouting report: “Strengths: Possesses very good size and athleticism. Flashes an explosive first step and has the speed to get to the second level. Uses his length to keep defenders at bay. Has the lateral agility to play in space and is well balanced in pass pro. Fights through the whistle. ... Areas of improvement: Would benefit from a few extra good lbs. Needs to polish his hand placement and technique. ... Bottom line: Reed has an impressive blend of size, strength and athleticism. With added size and polish, he has the potential to be a good player for a Power 5 program.”
Potential 2018 role: Could redshirt unless he surprisingly beats out Jahair Jones, Tennessee transfer Venzell Boulware, Hayden Mahoney or Corey Gaynor - UM’s potential top four at guard. Early arrival Delone Scaife could factor in, too.
Meanwhile, a UM spokesperson said the only remaining recruit who's not campus — Carol City running back Camron Davis — will enroll later this summer. Here's the word on him:
The basics: Consensus four-star prospect by ESPN, 247Sports.com and Rivals.com … Rated as the nation’s eighth-best running back by 247Sports.com … Ran for 181 yards to help Carol City defeat Dillard 23-0 in the opening round of the 2017 Florida State 6A Playoffs …Helped Carol City to its first Class 6A Championship since 2003, as he rushed for 820 yards and 13 touchdowns during the 2016 season … Finished his career with over 1,300 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns … Chose Miami over offers from Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
The outside view: ESPN.com’s scouting report: “Strengths: Small in stature but explosive, sudden and quick through the hole. Has deceptive long speed but overall is quicker than fast. Built low to ground with good lateral jabs and cuts is very difficult to corral. Runs bigger than size. ... Areas of improvement: Size deficient [at 5-9, 187 pounds], in need of growth spurt. Would benefit from running with more patience. ... Bottom line: Davis has the elusiveness and speed combo coaches look for in an all-purpose back. Once he adds more size, he has the potential to be a complete running back at the next level.”
The inside view: UM offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown: "He’s a slasher, a one-cut downhill-type guy who "can make you miss. Can play between the tackles, he can play out in space, he can make you miss one-on-one and has enough speed to go the distance. Catches the ball like a receiver in a lot of ways, which gives us a chance to flex a guy out and throw the ball out in space."
Potential 2018 role: Will be difficult to crack the top three unless he’s extraordinary in August. Travis Homer likely will start and Lingard is too great a talent to sit on the bench. UM also wants to get the ball in DeeJay Dallas’ hands several times a game. So that leaves Davis competing with Robert Burns for remaining carries.
We'll examine Baxa and the defensive newcomers in a Tuesday post.