Barry Jackson

Hurricanes continue to make progress in transfer market while awaiting QB decisions

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday:

As Miami awaits decisions from its potential 2019 quarterback (Jalen Hurts) and its potential 2020 quarterback (Tate Martell), the Canes continue to make more headway in the transfer department.

UM tells us that Tommy Kennedy, the Butler transfer who is expected to be the starting left tackle next season, has now enrolled. So he will get the experience of going through spring ball and joins five other early enrollees.

Meanwhile, in the wake of our report last week that UCLA defensive tackle Chigozie Nnoruka had received an offer from Miami, Canesport and 247sports report he’s visiting UM this weekend. He told Canesport that if the visit goes well, he could commit soon after.

“Miami is my favorite so far,” Nnoruka told Canesport. “Their coaches have been telling me they’re recruiting me to play 3-technique in their defense. If the visit goes well enough for me to feel like it’s the place for me I will commit after that.”

UF also has offered him.

Nnoruka had 49 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, and two sacks in 13 games and 10 starts in 2017 but played much less last season (seven tackles in 11 games, all as a backup) because the new UCLA coaching staff wanted to incorporate younger players.

He would be this year’s version of Tito Odenigbo if he joins the Canes, perhaps even better.

UM so far this offseason has already lured a former four-star Southern Cal safety in Bubba Bolden, a starting left tackle in Kennedy (who was also offered by Oklahoma and Texas, among others), a player who will be the most accomplished receiver on the roster next season (KJ Osborn) and a former Mr. Alabama four-star running back from Auburn (Asa Martin). All except Martin can play in 2019, and Martin is seeking NCAA permission to play in 2019.

If the Canes can get Hurts or Martell or possibly both, it would be difficult to find a school that played the transfer market better than the Canes did this offseason.

Hurts and Martell are now both considering their options after Miami visits on Sunday and Monday, respectively.

BetOnline has made Maryland the favorite for Alabama’s Hurts, with UM and Oklahoma also in the mix. Hurts would be eligible to play elsewhere in 2019.

The Canes, West Virginia and Louisville are top contenders for Martell, and his former high school teammate – UM’s Brevin Jordan – has been lobbying for Martell to pick Miami on social media.

Among the many reasons UM is thrilled to have Dan Enos as his coordinator: The fact he was in such demand shows how highly he’s regarded.

According to a UM source, seven schools reached out to Enos before Miami hired him, including Tennessee, Georgia, Pittsburgh, North Carolina State and others. He also could have stayed at Alabama.

Bryan Harlan, Enos’ Chicago-based agent, would not confirm that.

To appreciate why Manny Diaz didn’t immediately acquiesce to Jeff Thomas’ request for reinstatement - giving him a maybe and not an outright yes - consider that not only did Thomas complain last season, but a UM official said he was frequently punished last season for missteps but stopped doing the punishment – which was early-morning running. Thomas said he will enroll at Illinois.

[UPDATE: We’re hearing Diaz has relented and is allowing Thomas back on the team.]

[SECOND UPDATE: Thomas announced he’s back on the team]

As part of Diaz’s comprehensive new discipline structure, there are various grades of missteps – some refer to it internally as a common foul and flagrant foul - that result in various consequences, with missing a class carrying more punishment that being late to practice, for example.

▪ Besides pursuing several 2019 players to round out this recruiting class, UM also is eyeing high-end recruits for 2020.

Among those priorities: Norland offensive tackle Issiah Walker, a South Carolina commit. He’s rated the 27th best Class of 2020 tackle in the country by Rivals. Fortifying both lines is a priority for this staff in the coming months.

Meanwhile, three-star Class of 2019 Pensacola cornerback Martin Emerson, a nonbinding Mississippi State commit, continues to look hard at Miami. Safeties coach Ephraim Banda, the co defensive coordinator, visited Emerson this week.

“It went well,” Emerson told Canesport. “It’s getting real.”

▪ UM has been mulling a larger role for offensive quality control analyst David Cooney, who has done good work during the transitional period from Mark Richt to Diaz.

Cooney is expected to get at least an interview for one of the two open remaining on-field coaching positions (receivers or tight ends coach). It’s unclear who would be a front-runner for either position, but there’s considerable interest.

New grad transfer receiver KJ Osborn credited Cooney for his role in luring Osborn from Buffalo.

Quick FYI: The ACC will announce its football schedule at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

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