If you were around in the 80’s, 90’s and into the 2000’s, and attended University of Miami football games, the one thing that was a certain – the top-flight recruits would be there at every game.
While the past 15 years have not been what Miami football fans are used to – things may have started to turn back around – the past two weeks.
Forget about the last minute heroics against Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Can’t pay attention to the final minutes of Syracuse and FSU. What fans are focusing on is 9-0 and No. 2 in the country.
The Hurricanes, whether they win this week against Virgina, Thanksgiving weekend in Pittsburgh – or their first ACC title game ever, against Clemson, have gotten back the most important element in building any successful program – the recruits.
It is no longer those athletes who are choosing between the Hurricanes and USF, UCF and lesser known schools. The big boys have started to come to Hard Rock Stadium – and that brings back memories of the 5 national championships.
Recruiting has always been the key to what the “U” has been about. Even in the leaner years, it was always about trying to rekindle the past glory.
With Virginia Tech last week – and the overflow crowd against power Notre Dame – the game was a nationally-televised showcase for the Coral Gables campus in the morning on ESPN’s Game Day, and lasted until after midnight in a game that truly put this program back in the spotlight.
“Having been around the program the past few years, I have never seen anything like it,” said Andrew Ivins from 247Sports. “Kids who really had no interest in the program, along with commitments to other schools, came out.”
Indeed, with elite prospects such as St. Thomas Aquinas standout Asante Samuels (FSU) was there. So was South Dade elite defensive end Patrick Joyner (FSU) and the Plantation American Heritage trio of Pat Surtain, Jr., Tyson Campbell and nationally-rated sprinter and football prospect Anthony Schwartz.
In past years, Miami had to keep in close contact with all its recruits, realizing that they could jump ship at any time. That is certainly not the case for the top 5 Class of 2018 group they have – or the 2019 prospects.
“What Miami has done is start to make it special to be here in Coral Gables,” Dana Wiley of PrepFilms pointed out. “In the past few years, kids were getting offers that had many shaking their collective heads. Now, under Coach (Mark) Richt, it is an honor to get an offer from this school – like it did back in the successful days.”
It was supposed to be the infusion of this upcoming 2018 class that was going to put this team at the level they are playing at right now. They are two years ahead of schedule – no matter what transpires the rest of the way.
2018 CLASS IS STILL VITAL
When programs such as Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State have top-flight kids go down with an injury, they are always ready with that “next man up” mentality. The Hurricanes certainly do not have that depth everywhere, but that is where 2018 comes in – and then 2019 right behind them. Miami teams during the winning years were always stacked with talent two and three deep.
You look at the offensive players already committed and you can see that depth getting deeper. Running backs Lorenzo Lingard (Orange City University) and Carol City’s Camron Davis are both quick and very skilled – and have already gotten it done at a high level.
Las Vegas Bishop Gorman tight end Brevin Jordan is having a banner season for the Gaels – as they go for yet another Nevada state title. Fellow tight end Will Mallory (Jacksonville Providence) is big time as well. At 6-5, 220, he is big, can run and has skills.
Receivers Mark Pope and Daquris Wiggins (Miami Southridge), and Brian Hightower (IMG Academy) are as good as you get in every phase of the game.
Every program searches for linemen every year, and the Hurricanes continued to attract top-flight players such as Fort Meade’s Cleveland Reed, major talent Delone Scaife (Miami Southridge) and John Campbell (Orlando Dr. Phillips).
Defensively, the ‘Canes went hard after top-flight secondary prospects and struck gold with Al Blades, Jr. (St. Thomas Aquinas), Josh Jobe (formerly Christopher Columbus – now at Cheshire Academy, Ct.), Gurvan Hall (Palm Beach Lakes), Gilbert Frierson (Coral Gables) and South Dade all-around standout D.J. Ivey.
Ivey is exactly what Miami wants in their athletes. Someone who can get it done on the field, but also be a tremendous teammate and productive member of the school – which he will be.
Tackle Nesta Silvera (Plantation American Heritage) is what Miami needs up front. Also, Hialeah Champagnat Catholic athlete Gregory Rousseau, who will turn out to be one of the major finds in this class. While he is being recruited as a defensive end, his skill level as a 6-5 receiver and safety have given him a huge advantage.
There is also Pace Academy (Georgia) linebacker Realus George.
And to keep the great kicking game going strong, the Hurricanes have also received a commitment from Bubba Baxa.
THE NOTRE DAME GAME WAS FOR THE FUTURE
From the now famous “turnover chain” – to the sellout crowd and electric atmosphere – last Saturday night was about those future classes. The 2019 kids who will now have a chance to watch and wait to get in the mix in two years.
“The impact of a game like Virginia Tech, ESPN’s College Game Day and the showdown of Notre Dame and Miami is all about making an impression on these younger recruits,” said Ivins. “That’s why having over 100 athletes in attendance, in all classes, was a win/win all the way.”
Among the 2019 prospects that the Hurricanes certainly made smile so far this year include defensive standouts Derick Hunter (DE, Fort Myers Dunbar), Mount Dora Bible linebacker Jesiah Pierre, Southridge Linebacker Diamonte Howard and Miami Norland tackle Denzel Daxon.
Offensive linemen such as Brandon Cunningham (Ocean Springs St. Martin, Ms.) and Renato Brown (Palm Beach Central) are also impressed by what has transpired this year.
Catch the South Florida High Sports Radio Show this week on Wednesday night (8-10) on WQAM (560AM). For the past 10 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot!