Ephraim Banda on Manny Diaz: ‘He’s going to be the best head coach ... in the country”
A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday:
▪ The Canes hope to add a couple more players to their 16-member recruiting class on National Signing Day on Wednesday, and here’s when UM targets plan to announce:
Four-star Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons defensive end Khris Bogle: 8 a.m. This is a three-way battle among UM, UF and Alabama. He remains a Crimson Tide commit but visited UF and UM the past two weekends.
Four-star Alabama-based cornerback Christian Williams: 9 a.m. He remains an Alabama commit, but many expect him to end up with LSU or UM.
Three-star Pensacola-based offensive tackle Darius Washington: 10 a.m. The former Mississippi State commit will pick between UM and FSU.
Four-star Wellington running back Mark Antony Richards: 11 a.m. Two Rivals analysts predict Richards will pick UM, but some would be surprised if he does. Auburn and UF are big factors here.
Four-star Palm Beach Benjamin defensive back Kaiir Elam: 1 p.m. He announced Tuesday that he will choose from among UM, UF, Georgia and Colorado. UF has long been considered the favorite.
Five-star Alabama-based receiver George Pickens: Might announce in the 2:30 p.m. range. Though he led UM to believe the Canes are still in the mix, it would be an upset if he picks UM. He could stick with Auburn or opt for another SEC school.
Rivals reported Tuesday that not having a high enough SAT or ACT score “may prevent him from signing this week. Look for some type of announcement from Pickens on Wednesday.”
▪ Tom Lemming, the longest-tenured dean of high school recruiting analysis, offered thoughts on Miami’s 2019 class by phone on Tuesday.
Quarterback Peyton Matocha: Though Rivals.com gave him only two stars, “I gave him four,” Lemming said. “He came to my get-togethers [for prep prospects in Houston]. Smart kid, good arm, good size. I really like him.”
(Lemming, incidentally, has spent time with Tate Martell and we’ll have more on that in a future post.)
Receiver Jeremiah Payton: “He’s got length, speed. This is go-to type wide receiver. His coaches at Fletcher (High in Neptune Beach) had nothing but praise for him. Good character. A leader.”
Tight end Larry Hodges: “Larry came to my get-together at Tampa Jefferson. He needs to put on weight and strength but has real good hands and can run.”
Offensive linemen Jakai Clark, Adam ElGammal and Zion Nelson: “These are all down-the-line guys. They need to hit the weight room.”
Though there’s no prep addition at running back, Lemming said Auburn transfer Asa Martin “was one of the better players at IMG Academy [ in recent years]. Good all-around back. Can catch and run and block.”
All of the above have signed with UM except Matocha, who will sign on Wednesday. Payton is already enrolled.
▪ Lemming on UM’s high school defensive commitments:
Defensive ends Jahfari Harvey and Cameron Williams: “I’ve seen both and both have great first steps. It would be [big] if they get [former UCLA five-star defensive end/linebacker] Jaelan Phillips as a transfer. Phillips can contribute right away if he goes there and is eligible right away. He was one of my premier players in the country [out of high school in the 2017 class]. Cut high, long legs, long arms. Could be an instant impact player for them. Had 27 sacks in a season in high school.”
Defensive tackles Jason Blissett, Jared Hunte and Jalar Holley: “I don’t think any of them are four-star type guys, but solid three-plus type guys.”
Linebackers Sam Brooks and Avery Huff: “Their coaches said both of them are very aggressive. Both can run and hit.”
Defensive backs Keontra Smith and Te’Cory Couch: Lemming likes both but believes the real impact addition will be former Southern California safety Bubba Bolden, who is reportedly on track to graduate this spring and be eligible next season for UM. “Bolden is a big-time player,” Lemming said.
▪ Overall, Lemming said if the transfers were factored in (Martell, Bolden, receiver K.J. Osborn, left tackle Tommy Kennedy, defensive tackle David Nnoruka) along with the high school players, he would rate Miami’s class “20 to 25 in the country. Manny Diaz is one of the best recruiters in the country. Miami will be in the top 10 in recruiting next year.”
Among these defensive players, all have signed except Hunte, who will sign on Wednesday. San Francisco-based junior college punter Louis Hedley also will sign with UM on Wednesday.
▪ Jacksonville-based four-star Class of 2020 quarterback Carson Beck decommitted from Alabama on Monday night, further opening the door for Miami to pounce.
Beck, rated by Rivals as the No. 12 pro style quarterback in the country for 2020, visited UM and UF last weekend and is a top Hurricanes target.
Beck, 6-4, has said he loves UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos, who has been recruiting him since Enos was at Alabama as quarterbacks coach last season.
▪ Former UM coach Mark Richt, who hasn’t done interviews since resigning as Canes coach on Dec. 30, resurfaces Wednesday as a studio analyst on ESPN’s coverage of National Signing Day.
This will be a feeling-out of sorts for both Richt and ESPN and could lay the groundwork for potential TV work for him next season. He will be joined in studio by ESPN analyst Jim Mora Jr. (the former Atlanta Falcons and UCLA coach), among others.
ESPN needs to replace former studio analyst Mack Brown (who returned to coaching with North Carolina) and find announcers for its new ACC Network, which debuts in August and will get a Clemson-Georgia Tech game as its opener.
Coverage on Wednesday will be on ESPN2 from noon to 2 p.m., ESPNU from 2 to 3:30 p.m., then ESPN2 from 4 to 5 p.m.
ESPN says it’s planning on carrying live announcements from a bunch of players, but not any of the aforementioned UM targets except Elam.