Barry Jackson

A look at UM’s commitments and targets on defense with early signing period a week away

UM’s Mark Richt talks about his latest recruiting class

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.
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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.

While the University of Miami has just three Class of 2019 oral commitments on offense, the Canes have assembled a strong 11-member defensive class, and the Canes are still very much in the mix for a handful of four- and five-star prospects.

Where things stand defensively for UM as we close in on next week’s Dec. 19-21 early signing period:

Defensive ends (four committed: Vero Beach’s Jahfari Harvey, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Jason Munoz, Hollywood Chaminade’s Cameron Williams and Miami Northwestern’s Samuel Brooks):

That’s a very good group, and it would be a great group if UM can land two among a half dozen others they’re pursuing, with Cardinal Gibbons’ four-star Khris Bogle, four-star Lakeland-based Lloyd Summerall and FSU four-star nonbinding commit Derick Hunter at the top of their list of targets.

Bogle — the nation’s No. 3 weakside defensive end, according to Rivals — is visiting UM this weekend, but Alabama might be tough to beat. Bogle, who had 7.5 sacks in the regular season, also has said he’s considering LSU, UF, Penn State and Tennessee. He won’t announce until Jan. 5.

Summerall, rated the No. 16 weakside defensive end, also has been considering UF and Nebraska, but the sense is UM has a very good chance here.

And the Canes have a decent chance at persuading the Ft. Myers-based Hunter — Rivals’ 34th-ranked strongside defensive end — to flip from FSU. Hunter visited UM this past weekend, said the visit went well and told Canesport he has made up his mind but won’t announce until Dec. 19.

If UM lands two of those aforementioned three — along with the players already committed — that would give the Canes exceptional depth behind Jon Garvin, Joe Jackson (if he surprisingly doesn’t turn pro) and Greg Rousseau, with Scott Patchan and Patrick Joyner also returning.

Harvey is the one very likely January enrollee among the four oral commitments at defensive end. Brooks — a 6-1, 197 pounds — could end up at linebacker.

Among other defensive ends being pursued by UM: New York-based four-star Adisa Issac (Rivals’ No. 6 weakside defensive end; UM is an underdog here), four-star Georgia based Justin Eboigbe (Alabama is still believed to be the front-runner even after his UM visit this past weekend) and four-star Quashon Fuller (an FSU oral commit who potentially could be swayed in January).

Defensive tackle (two committed: Brooklyn-based Jason Blisett and Georgia-based Jalar Holley): UM would like one more but is an underdog for perhaps its top target, Apopka’s four-star Tyler Davis, who has visited only two of his four finalists (Clemson and FSU) and not visited the others (UM and Ohio State).

UM has a better chance at landing New York-based three-star Jared Hunt, who is visiting this weekend but isn’t planning to sign until February.

Blisett, Holley and Hunt — if UM can snag Hunt — would give the Canes solid depth behind Pat Bethel, Jon Ford, Nesta Silvera and Jordan Miller. A grad transfer could be added, as Miami did with Tito Odenigbo last year. Whoever UM gets, it will be awfully difficult to replace the impact of second-team AP All-American Gerald Willis, who’s a senior.

Linebacker (two committed: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Anthony Solomon and Avery Huff, and three if Brooks is included in this group):

Solomon has been wavering for weeks and could flip to Michigan if his visit there next weekend goes well.

Solomon told Canesport on Monday that he enjoyed his UM visit this past weekend but “right now I wouldn’t be able to decide” between Miami and Michigan. “I have love for both schools and it’s going to be a heart-wrenching decision.”

With Solomon in doubt, Miami has been exploring several linebackers, including Plant City’s James Gordon (a Minnesota commit) and Jahmar Brown (a South Carolina commit).

Gordon told Canesport that it’s 50/50 if he will visit UM this weekend but he’s down to UM and Minnesota as his college choices. Brown appears a much less likely get.

Three-star Rockledge-based Octavious Brothers is a potential January target if UM wants another linebacker.

Huff, incidentally, is likely to play the striker position, which returning Romeo Finley and Derrick Smith Jr. handled effectively this season.

Solomon — if he sticks — or Gordon — if he picks UM — would compete with Bradley Jennings Jr., Waynmon Steed and others as depth behind Shaq Quarterman and Mike Pinckney, if both juniors return to school.

Defensive back (three committed: Hollywood Chaminade teammates Te’Cory Couch and Keontra Smith and Carol City’s Jarvis Brownlee).

Of those three, the only one who seems to remain a question is Brownlee; UF and UCF have been pushing hard for him.

UM’s top remaining defensive backfield priorities are landing Miami Southridge’s four-star Tyriq Stevenson and Palm Beach Central’s five-star Akeem Dent.

Stevenson, rated by Rivals as the 37th best prospect in the nation and the No. 6 cornerback, is visiting UM this weekend, and Miami has a good chance here, with Georgia still very much in the mix.

Dent, the No. 28 overall prospect and No. 4 cornerback, remains an FSU non-binding commitment but might visit UM this weekend. Clemson and Alabama are also in hot pursuit. Canesport notes UM has one advantage: UM has a strong program in marine biology, which is Dent’s preferred major.

UM also is pursuing North Palm Beach Benjamin four-star cornerback Kaiir Elam (visited last weekend; but UF and Georgia are formidable competition); three-star cornerback Martin Emerson (a Mississippi State commit who might visit this weekend but isn’t signing until February) and four-star Tampa cornerback Johnny Dixon (who visited UM last weekend and has the Canes, South Carolina, Penn State and West Virginia as his finalists).

Smith has a chance to play right away at safety, with Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine graduating. He’ll compete with Amari Carter, Robert Knowles, Gurvan Hall and others.

At cornerback, Brownlee (if he sticks) and Couch would immediately compete with this season’s four freshmen (Al Blades, Gilbert Frierson, D.J. Ivey and Nigel Bethel) to start opposite Trajan Bandy. And Stevenson or Dent – if either commits – would also join that competition.

Coming Tuesday: Where UM stands, by position, on offense in 2019 recruiting.

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