We are still a little more than half a year away from the first opportunity for many high school senior football players to put pen to paper and decide which school they look to advance their athletic and academic careers. Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz and the rest of the University of Miami staff find themselves in a very fortunate position as of now as they currently carry a lot of momentum on the recruiting trail and more success could be on the way should they accumulate the victories on the field. UM currently holds the 5th-best recruiting class in the nation for the class of 2020 and currently sit at 16 commits.
Here’s a look at the current state of Miami’s recruiting efforts:
At quarterback, Miami is set with Tyler Van Dyke, who hails from Suffield Academy in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Newly-hired quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Dan Enos is considered a quarterback guru due to his work with Tua Taigovailoa and Jalen Hurts at Alabama last season and was very impressed by Van Dyke’s arm. According to 247 Sports, he’s rated as the 9th-best pro-style quarterback in the country.
Even with an already loaded running back room, Miami is still insistent on recruiting elite players at the position. Currently on the roster, Cam Davis and Deejay Dallas are interchangeably 1-2 on the depth chart with 2018 five-star recruit Lorenzo Lombard still recovering from injury. Miami also has former Auburn RB Asa Martin, who will sit out the 2019 season and has three years of eligibility remaining. As for recruiting, it only took three weeks on the job for running back coach Eric Hickson to secure the commitment of Don Chaney, the local five-star back from Belen Jesuit in Miami. Hickson is also competing for the services of Deerfield Beach’s Jaylan Knighton (considering UM, FSU, and Clemson) and Colombus’ Henry Parrish Jr. (considering UM, FSU, Utah, FAU, and Pitt.)
Without a doubt, wide receiver may be Miami’s best position depth-wise. The future looks bright with the return of Jeff Thomas as well as guys like Dee Wiggins and Mark Pope, the two high-rated recruits they brought in during the 2018 cycle. Miami is still recruiting hard at the position and it has been reported that they’ve evaluated around 30 receivers nationwide. They currently have three commitments in four-star recruits Bryan Robinson (Palm Beach Central High/West Palm Beach), Marcus Fleming (Miami Northwestern), and most recently Xavier Restrepo (Deerfield Beach) but it is highly possible they add a couple more before it’s all said and done. Former Miami commitment and four-star receiver Leonard Manuel just listed Miami in his top 7 and the Canes also made the top 5 of high four-star athlete Mookie Cooper.
Miami brought in Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory in 2018 and are set to have even bigger sophomore seasons, but that has not stopped the staff from pursuing elite targets at the position. Dominic Mammarelli, who hails from Naples, has been committed to the Canes for more than a year and seems solid in his commitment. The staff is looking to add one more tight end to the fold, and the big fish they hope to reel in is five-star Darnell Washington. Miami is competing with all of the big boys for Washington’s services but on top of Miami’s rich tradition with the position, one thing Miami has working in their favor is that Washington hails from the same city (Las Vegas) as Jordan and two other players on the team.
The work and persistence of new OL coach Butch Barry paid off in the recruitment and commitment of Jalen Rivers, an offensive tackle from Oakleaf High in Jacksonville. Rivers is an athletic specimen at 6’6”, 330 lbs. and he also plays basketball and track. After one of Miami’s junior camps earlier this year, the Canes extended an offer and received a commitment from Vanguard (Ocala, FL) center Antonio Smith. There’s still many questions for the offensive line, including who the starters are when August 24th comes about but also the depth. It’s looking like Miami will probably take about 2-3 more linemen and their biggest target right now is Issiah Walker from Miami Norland. Walker is currently committed to South Carolina but he has been a frequent visitor to Coral Gables. His most recent visit was on Monday and it looks as if Miami’s biggest competition outside of the Gamecocks will be Florida and Florida State.
Manny Diaz’s defensive lines have always rotated often as this keeps fresh legs in crucial games. Even with the departure of Jess Simpson to the NFL, newly-hired DL coach Todd Stroud has been able to keep all three of Simpson’s commitments: Trevon Riggins (St. Petersburg, FL, Lakewood High), Samuel Anaele (Miami, FL, Carol City High), and Willie Moise (Hollywood, FL, Chaminade-Madonna). Coincidentally, they are also Miami’s longest tenured commitments and all three seem very solid in their commitments.
Linebacker may be Miami’s most important position for the 2020 recruiting cycle. Miami is looking to replace three seniors at the position and currently has one commit in three-star recruit AJ Mathis from Largo, FL. The Canes lost out to FSU for four-star Jayion McCluster, who happens to reside in the same city as Mathis, but Miami has not stopped its pursuits. Most recently, NJ-based Tirek Austin-Cave was on campus on an official visit and reports are that he was blown away, but he currently has a slate of four other official visits planned for the next few weeks. Miami is looking to take two more linebackers after bringing in two in 2019. This weekend, there will be two official visitors at the position in Texas-based Corey Flagg and Romello Height from Dublin, GA.
Last but not least, most of the damage has been done reloading on cornerbacks and safeties. Depth and experience are factors affecting both positions, more so with cornerback. Miami only has four cornerbacks on the roster so it is imperative they add at least 2-3 this cycle. The Canes currently have South Dade four-star Jaiden Francois in the fold, who was arguably the best cornerback in Miami-Dade County in 2018. Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph in also landing the commitment of Justin Hodges from Western High in Davie. And thanks to the work of defensive coordinator Blake Baker utilizing his Louisiana ties, Miami also received a verbal commitment from Daran Branch from Amite, LA and there is a small possibility that Branch could get moved to safety. One big target at corner is Keyshawn Lawrence, who hails from Nashville, TN and has a big UM connection with former Cane CB Corn Elder as his cousin. Lawrence is slated to take his official visit to Miami the weekend of Paradise Camp on June 22nd.
It’s important to note that Miami did lose two very dependable safeties in Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine. At safety, the Canes have two commits. Francois’ teammate Keshawn Washington recommitted to the Canes not too long ago after decommitting in December. It is very likely, if not certain, that the 6’3” 190lb. Washington will get moved to the striker position, which is essentially a hybrid linebacker/safety.
An important thing to note is that in recruiting, attrition is inevitable. Miami is still after a lot of highly-rated recruits and one thing to look out down the road is a lot of lower-rated commits possibly getting “dropped” in favor of the former should the higher level recruits wait until later in the process to announce their decisions. Miami is holding their annual invite-only Paradise Camp next Saturday and there will be a plethora of recruits, both committed and uncommitted, on campus and we will provide updates as to who are the important visitors.
Paul Austria (@PaulAustria_) also contributes to Canes Insight.