Barry Jackson

UM making pitch to these key recruits this weekend

As rain cascaded down on South Florida, UM officials are making a pitch this weekend to a handful of recruits taking on-campus visits, with National Signing Day closing in on Feb. 7.

Miami hopes to emerge from this with at least one more cornerback, a fifth scholarship quarterback and a top running back, among other things.

The campus visitors:

Quarterback Peyton Matocha. He has emerged as UM’s top remaining QB target after an exceptional senior season in which he threw 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Though Texas A&M has shown interest in him as a walk-on, his only Power 5 offer is from Miami.

Keep in mind that UM has signed two quarterbacks in recent years whose only Power 5 offer was from Miami – Malik Rosier and Evan Shirreffs.

But unlike Shirreffs (who eventually transferred to Charlotte), Matocha has other FBS offers.

Like Rosier, he has enough arm strength and the ability to elude defenders. But Matocha’s accuracy is better, and he’s bigger (6-4 to Rosier’s 6-1).

For Matocha, the question ultimately will be whether he goes to a place where he potentially has a better chance to start eventually (Wyoming, Massachusetts) or UM.

The Canes like his intelligence and maturity, but the offer goes beyond that. His senior tape was very impressive.

If UM doesn’t get Matocha, New Orleans-based Lance Legendre looms as an option; he’s set to visit UM next weekend. But Legendre is visiting FSU this weekend, and the Seminoles reportedly are the front-runner.

[UPDATE: Matocha committed to UM during his visit on Saturday night.]

Running back Mark-Antony Richards.

He’s visiting UM this weekend and then will host in-home visits with the Hurricanes, Gators, Auburn Tigers, Penn State and Georgia before signing on Feb. 7.

He likes the appointment of Manny Diaz as coach.

“He truly changed the face of the Miami defense, if you really think about it,” Richards told Miami Herald colleague David Wilson. “Now that he’s the head coach and stuff like that, I can only imagine how he’s going to change the offense.”

UM initially wanted Richards as a defensive back but now is fine taking him as a running back, which is his preference. After adding Auburn transfer Asa Martin, UM might not take another back if Richards doesn’t pick the Hurricanes.

Cornerback Martin Emerson.

The Mississippi State commit is taking his second visit to South Florida, and UM has pushed hard for the three-star prospect from Pensacola.

He has been planning to take a Mississippi State visit next weekend.

UM has a decent chance here.

The Canes badly want another cornerback to join Te’Cory Couch in this class.

And UM now has a decent chance at landing Christian Williams, an Alabama commit.

“Williams is still on the Alabama commitment list, but he is not expected to sign with the Crimson Tide,” said last week. “He took an official visit to Miami last week, he is planning to visit LSU next week, and this weekend, he will be at Texas A&M. The Aggies are a new school in this race, so how will Williams feel in College Station? The word is he had a great time at Miami and has gotten pretty comfortable with the Hurricane coaching staff.”

Emerson, if he comes, also might be an option at the striker position.

Jared Hunte.

Miami wants to add another defensive tackle, and the three-star New York based Hunte has been a priority for weeks. He also has considered Penn State.

“We were told that his in-home visit with Penn State went well Tuesday, but it feels like Manny Diaz and his staff hold the momentum here,” Rivals reported.

George Pickens.

The five-star Alabama-based Pickens remains an Auburn commit but reportedly is visiting UM this weekend. If UM can somehow get Pickens to flip, he would be the highest-rated player in the Hurricanes’ class, rated seventh nationally among all 2019 players by Rivals.

So how many more players can UM take in this class?

“It all depends,” Diaz said in a podcast by The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman. “We have a handful of spots left, have some targets. Everyone in college football is playing this numbers game. Assuming they all come, you can’t take them all. …

“Let’s say you’re trying to sign one guy at this position and you have your fingers crossed on this guy where it’s 50/50, well now there might be a transfer who can come in and help the team out next year, that can lessen the blow if you don’t get this guy.”

Here’s my updated look at the Heat’s salary cap predicament and the obstacle that has emerged in their master plan.

Here’s my look at Kyler Murray, Drew Lock and the Dolphins’ early-round draft options on offense, part 3 of a series.