Barry Jackson

UM is working to build strong 2020 class on offensive and defensive lines. An update

Part 2 of a three-part series:

A look at where UM stands along the offensive and defensive lines in 2020 recruiting:

Offensive line: The Canes — who have had several disappointments in recruiting and the transfer market over the past three years — badly need to hit big with this 2020 class, and they’re off to a good start, with nonbinding commitments from Oakleaf four-star tackle Jalen Rivers and three-star Ocala based tackle Antonio Smith.

Also committed: Tennessee-based tackle Chris Washington, who’s rated a two-star prospect by Rivals and three-star by 247sports. His other offers included Indiana and Mississippi.

Rivals rates Rivers the 21st best offensive tackle and 209th best overall player in the 2020 class.

Rivals’ Rob Cassidy said Rivers “is one of the state’s premier linemen and the kind of player that can help Miami early in his career if he drops the little bad weight he carries. The four-star tackle, who retains some solid athleticism for his size, is battle tested and has proven he can block FBS-bound defensive ends in games and at a number of elite camps.”

Smith picked UM over Auburn and Ohio State, among others.

Recruiting analyst Larry Blustein said Rivers and Smith “are the type of kids you get when moving in a positive direction. Athletic, big guys who drew praise from SEC programs. That’s a real need.”

But much work remains, with the Canes badly hoping to lure Miami’s Norland four-star tackle Issiah Walker Jr. (who decommitted from South Carolina this week and continues to consider UM, UF and other schools) and South Dade High four-star guard Jonathan Denis, a former UM commitment who has again been considering Miami.

Among others being pursued by UM: four-star California based Myles Murao, four-star Louisiana based guard Sedrick Van Pran (Rivals’ No. 2-ranked guard; Georgia is considered the front-runner), Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons three-star tackle Gerald Mincey (committed to Gators June 9), Fort Myers-based three star tackle Cayden Baker (UM, Pittsburgh, Syracuse are his best offers) and Coca-based three star guard Richie Leonard, who plans to announce at around 6 p.m. Friday on his mother’s birthday.

Leonard has said he’s considering Miami, Florida, Florida State, UCF, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Tennessee.

UM also has been trying to flip three-star Mississippi-based tackle Eli Acker, a Mississippi commit who said UM is close to Ole Miss in his evaluation of where he would like to attend college.

Defensive line: UM needs a handful to replace several players entering their final year of eligibility, including Virginia Tech transfer Trevon Hill, Scott Patchan and Pat Bethel. Also, Jon Garvin could turn pro after this season.

Miami has four nonbinding commitments: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna four-star defensive end Willie Moise (rated the No. 18 strongside defensive end); Lakeland’s four-star Tre’Von Riggins (rated the No. 22 strongside defensive end); three-star Charlotte-based Quentin Williams (Rivals’ No. 27 weakside defensive end) and three-star Miami Columbus defensive end Elijah Roberts (the No. 32 strongside defensive end).

Former Carol City four-star Samuel Anaele, who is now at McDougle Institute, told 247sport’s Andrew Ivins that he has decommitted from UM but will still consider the Hurricanes. He’s rated the nation’s No. 5 weakside defensive end prospect by Rivals.

“Anaele is a big, rangy kid,” Blustein said. “I saw him at Under Armour and I was impressed. Never afraid to ask questions. Not a know-it-all. He’s a smart kid. Really big upside.”

As for the defensive linemen who are still committed:

“Moise can play on either side of the ball; he has athletic ability to play defensive tackle but also could be an offensive tackle; he plays it now,” Blustein said. “Riggins has got good size, very athletic, moves really well ... Elijah Roberts turned it up last year. Agile, smart, good pass rusher.”

UM believes Roberts could grow into a defensive tackle eventually. Riggins, incidentally, said he has shut down his recruitment.

Targets: Among ends, UM could potentially add one or two more. Miami is pursuing – among others – four-star Texas based Alec Bryant (an LSU commitment who said his UM offer was a “dream offer” but more recently said he’s definitely sticking with LSU); and Pahokee’s four-star Latarie Kinsler (the No. 13 weakside defensive end who has been strongly considering UM and West Virginia).

UM would love to land Booker T. Washington’s Donell Harris, a former UM nonbinding commitment who is reclassifying from the 2021 class to the 2020 class. But Harris did not include UM or any Florida school in his recently-released top five (Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, Auburn, Clemson).

From the recruiting-is-weird department: Three-star South Miami High defensive end Khaya Wright committed to Georgia Tech last week, a month after announcing a top three of UM, Virginia and Syracuse. Incidentally, Palm Beach Garden’s three-star Timothy Brown chose Pittsburgh over UM and others last week.

Among defensive tackles, UM has offered a bunch, including four-star Louisiana based Jaquelin Roy (LSU is the favorite for the nation’s No. 4 defensive tackle even though he previously decommitted from the Tigers), four-star Alabama based defensive tackle Eric Taylor (committed to LSU two weeks ago after saying Miami will get serious consideration), Louisiana-based three star Patrick Jenkins (also committed to LSU two weeks ago after initially being intrigued when UM defensive coordinator Blake Baker told him he could be the next Gerald Willis) and Gulliver’s three-star Westley Neal (the No. 28 defensive tackle).

UM has a very good shot of landing Neal.

Then there’s Tampa two-star prospect James Ash, who committed to Wake Forest on June 4 but told Canesport that Miami has a “47 percent chance of landing” him. Yes, seriously.

Here’s part 1 of our series, on UM’s 2020 commitments and targets at quarterback, running back, tight end and wide receiver.

Coming Friday: Where UM stands in 2020 with linebackers and defensive backs.

Here are my Wednesday Heat nuggets.

Here’s what we’ve learned on some of the Dolphins’ defensive plans.