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Miami Hurricanes: Should They Lock up the Chain?

The Miami Hurricanes suffered a demoralizing defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech Saturday 42-35 in front of a stunned crowd at Hard Rock Stadium.

Should the Hurricanes lock up the “Turnover Chain” and touchdown rings until they start locking up wins?

A furious comeback including 21 points in the final quarter was not enough. Miami fell to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in ACC play and will face an even tougher challenge when Virginia comes calling next weekend.

Jarren Williams came back to earth with a resounding thud against an opportunistic Bud Foster led defense. The long-time defensive coordinator is retiring after 33 seasons on the sidelines, but had one last knife twist for an old foe.

Williams went full Malik Rosier, hitting the bench after throwing three interceptions in the first half. Good news for Williams is that none of his seven pass attempts hit the ground, the other four were completed to the good guys.

For a grand total of 47 yards.

Miami fell down 28-0 early in the first half before N’ Kosi Perry did his best to salvage the game after replacing Williams but it was too little, too late. Perry finished with a career high 422 yards, completing 28 of 47 attempts with four TD and one pick.

Despite this effort Manny Diaz hinted that Williams would return to the starting role next week in his post game press conference.

Once again the Hurricanes running game was underutilized against a vulnerable Virginia Tech run defense.

DeeJay Dallas finished with just 66 yards on six carries, including a 62 yard run to put Miami in a position to take a late lead and steal the victory. Yet Dan Enos refused to call his number early when Williams was throwing the ball to the wrong team.

 

Put Away the Props

 

Manny Diaz brought the Turnover Chain to the program in 2017 and for a time the prop seemed to propel the defense. The Hurricanes added “Touchdown Rings” to the mix this year to balance things out.

Problem is, celebrating a score with prop jewelry when you are getting waxed rings hollow.

The great Miami Hurricanes teams didn’t need gimmicks, they knew they were better and just proved it week after week.

Miami lost the turnover battle 5-0 against Virginia Tech, if they would have snatched a couple chains early perhaps the momentum would swing back to the team in orange.

Virginia Tech has a beat up lunch box on the sidelines with a simple moniker: WIN. They packed a lunch today, and stole our lunch money in the process.

Until this Miami Hurricanes team learns the basics of winning football and stops making constant mental mistakes, the ice needs to be put on ice.

Bubba Baxa failed to make an extra point which would have put Miami up 36-35, another glaring miscue in a close game.

Get that man a platinum pinky ring next time he makes a clutch kick under 30 yards..

The offensive line is an abomination, giving up another seven sacks and allowing some crushing shots to Perry.

Maybe they should get an iced out watch so they know the snap count.

 

Claves para que UM derrote a UNC

UM se juega la vida esta noche en North Carolina.

Bueno. Tampoco para tanto.

Sin embargo, los Huracanes de la Universidad de Miami tienen otra gran prueba en el segundo juego de la temporada para ellos, tras caer ante los Florida Gators hace un par de semanas en el debut de Manny Díaz como head coach.

El duelo se asoma como uno interesante, con un par de quarterbacks jóvenes, y dos entrenadores que se graduaron en la misma universidad.

Leandro Soto, de Cinco Razones Deportes Network, estará comentando el duelo para la 990 ESPN Deportes desde Chapel Hill, NC, en medio de un ambiente con mucha música country y un tailgate un tanto aburrido para él, acostumbrado a la locura que se vive en los estacionamientos del Hard Rock Stadium.

En Five Reasons Sports vamos a estar transmitiendo en vivo con mucha mas frecuencia desde los diferentes eventos deportivos a los que asistimos.

Esta vez, les regalamos una pequeña previa del duelo de esta semana, con las claves para que UM pueda vencer a UNC, las fortalezas y debilidades de cada equipo, y las predicciones de cada uno para este importante encuentro.

Tate Martell ‘s transition to receiver going smoothly

When Tate Martell did not win the starting quarterback job at the University of Miami after transferring from Ohio State, he didn’t quit, he adjusted.

All the way to the other side of the field.

Martell began working with the wide receivers since Jarren Williams was named the starting quarterback and he has been welcomed with open arms by senior K.J.Osborn and the rest of the receivers.

“We accepted him. It was no nothing. We accepted him.” Osborn said after Wednesday’s practice.

Tate Martell had the advantage of having a strong grasp of the offense due to having to learn the whole scheme during quarterback competition. The knowledge he brought into his new crew not only helped himself, but his teammates improve.

“Like I said when Tate first got here, he’s very smart,” Osborn said. “He’s very smart. And he helps us out in the room. Like, if there’s a question about something, Tate, he’s got the answer. You know, quarterback reads, or line, or anything. He’s very smart coming from the quarterback position.”

The mental part of the transition may be smooth but the physical part wasn’t. He may have thought himself to be a mobile quarterback but even Michael Vick never ran as much as a wide receiver. The pains from practice served as an inadvertent form of initiation to the group, according to Osborn.

“He’s starting to get those wide receiver pains from running so much,” a laughing Osborn joked. “We trying to tell people on the team it’s different at wide receiver, like you run all day.”

Martell made his Hurricanes debut lined up at wideout against Florida. He’s still listed as a backup quarterback in the depth chart but he’ll be worth taking a look at over the course of the season.

 

Listen to pur podcast 5 Rings Canes clicking here. 

Paul Finebaum calls UM a “third world program”

Paul Finebaum opened the floor again.

Um, ESPN, about that no politics thing?

You remember how Dan LeBatard (our Dan LeBatard, of course) got heat internally for calling out the president’s racially-charged rallies?

Well, here’s the flip side of that.

Here is Paul Finebaum, known SEC shill and transparent provocateur, making a racially-loaded comment about the University of Miami, on ESPN’s airwaves:

What exactly do you mean there, Paul?

What would make us third world down here?

Our transportation system sucks. The Miami airport too. And yeah, there’s corruption.

But anyone who is associated with this area knows that “third world” isn’t referencing any of that. It’s referencing the populace…. much of which is brown or black.

That’s not a overly sensitive stretch. Just ask around.

This is a characterization that was all too common during the Heat’s Big 3 years. The national media constantly suggested that Miami didn’t “deserve” that team. Why? Well, sometimes they said it was because we weren’t passionate enough fans, too transient, all out on our boats. (You heard that a lot when national media members were cheering LeBron going back to “working class” Cleveland, i.e. more white).

But the other part of it was that we don’t look like other sports fans around the country, those pure fans from say, Boston.

“It’s a third world program if you ask me.”

Just say what you mean, Paul.

The caller did: “Well, at least no one was shot, I guess?”

Ha ha. That’s hysterical. No one shot. By Miami fans.

You forgot the word “thug.” Do better next time.

So Paul, nothing surprises us from you anymore.

Oh, and I’ve been to some of those SEC towns you love, where the Waffle House is deemed the equivalent of Ruth’s Chris — they both have butter! — and the unpaved roads to nowhere are lined with troopers waiting to pick up anyone who doesn’t answer to Bubba and have “Don’t Tread On Me” on his pickup’s bumper.

That world seems a lot more third than this.

Jarren Williams Miami Hurricanes

Miami Hurricanes: The Good, Bad, and Ugly vs Gators

An early chance to prove they are “back” escapes the Hurricanes.

The Miami Hurricanes kicked off the 2019 season like their nickname implies, with ferocity and chaos.

With an in-state game against the hated Gators, an animal that lurks in the swamp beneath the surface.

Two teams engaged in high drama without aesthetic pleasantry or grace.

On the national stage, just like it should be.

Miami wasn’t expected to win by most or make a game of it by many.

But that is exactly what they did.

We can explore the coulda-woulda-shoulda all day, Canes fans have seen these game slip away too many times.

The Hurricanes had their chances but the game unraveled by their own hand.

There was some good.

Quite a bit of bad.

And holy shit was there a lot of ugly.

The Good

Jarren Williams took control of the starting quarterback position in fall camp and the decision looks like a home run.

The redshirt freshman looked ready and poised under the bright lights and under heavy fire.

He took 10 sacks behind an offensive line that was exploited against a barrage from the Gator front seven.

Time and time again he got up off the canvas, and had the team in position to win.

Williams avoided the big mistake, although he did put the ball on the ground late under duress.

He finished 19 for 30 for 214 yards with one touchdown and looked more calm and collected as the game progressed.

DeeJay Dallas had a solid game (12 carries, 95 yards, one touchdown) and his physical running style brutalized the Florida defense.

Overall however the rushing game struggled, only gaining 87 yards on a measly 2.7 YPC after sack yards on Williams factored in.

Brevin Jordan (five receptions, 88 yards, TD)  also had a breakout night and there are plenty of encouraging pieces on offense.

Cam Harris looks like a perfect compliment to Dallas and had a game changing run called back by penalty.

 

Another bright spot was the run defense which held Florida to just 52 yards on the ground.

Oh, and Turnover Chain 3.0, or 305, made its debut and Miami rocked the new ice on four occasions.

 

The Bad

A lot to cover here.

Mistakes riddled the opening game for Manny Diaz and his new coaching staff.

Delays of game and false starts took the life out of drives that weren’t killed by sacks.

Williams was running for his life against a constant barrage of blitzes.

Both teams were sloppy, combining for over 200 yards in penalties on the night.

Diaz was not pleased.

“There were a couple major blunders on special teams and the short fields right there really ended up being telling in a very low scoring game where everything mattered. I thought our guys played with a lot of courage. I think they played with a lot of effort. But it doesn’t matter because we lost the game. We did not come here to play with courage and effort. We came here to win the game and it’s not OK at the University of Miami ever to lose to the University of Florida. Everybody in that locker room feels the pain of that right now.”

Mistakes should be expected with a mostly new coaching staff and quarterback, but the mental lapses compiled at an alarming rate.

The players were not the only ones making mental mistakes though.

 

Officials cannot be blamed for the result but it definitely was not a stellar night for the zebras.

That being said the calls went for and against both teams so the impact is moot.

The Ugly

The big uglies lived up to that monicker in resounding fashion Saturday night.

Allowing double-digit sacks at this level is uncommon, a performance like this raises many questions.

Florida is an elite defense but the Miami front five looked like matadors out there.

Part of that has to also fall on Dan Enos and the play calling.

In the first half Williams got rid of the ball quickly but in the third quarter is when things started to get sideways.

A fumble by Jeff Thomas on a punt with Miami up 13-1o started to signal the beginning of the end. Florida took it the rest of the way and reclaimed a 17-13 advantage.

Florida outscored Miami 10-0 in that 15 minutes which segued into the fourth quarter from hell.

That quarter started out with a bang for the Hurricanes.

 

The Hurricanes missed their shot at the end

That power move put the Hurricanes back on top 20-17 but was ultimately false hope.

The next three drives ended with a missed field goal and two failures on fourth down,

Miami pulled out some tricks when Bubba Baxa ran for a first down on a fake field goal.

The play had offsetting penalties with a hold by Miami, but an unnecessary roughness penalty on Florida gave the Hurricanes new life.

Which ended quickly.

Baxa missed a chip shot from 27 yards which proved costly as the Gators marched 80 yards in just four plays to retake the lead, one they would not relinquish.

Williams was sacked three times on the final drive, which also included a 15-yard chop block penalty.

Miami was gifted one last opportunity when the Gators were flagged for pass interference on 4th and 34.

How do you get to 4th and 34?

Illegal block penalty for 15 yards makes it 1st and 25

Pass to DeeJay loses one, 2nd and 26.

Williams sacked and fumbles, Dallas picks it up and gains four.

Third and 22, why not take a delay of game for five?

Third and 27, we like even numbers so give us a sack and a seven-yard loss.

There you have it, the night for the Hurricanes in a nutshell.

Follow us on Twitter for more Miami Hurricanes @SportsWaveDave and @5ReasonsSports.

Check out the 5 Rings Canes podcast for exclusive coverage of the Hurricanes.

Three Matchups the Hurricanes can Exploit vs Gators

Week Zero is fast approaching as the Miami Hurricanes prepare to face the Florida Gators Saturday in Orlando.

The oddsmakers don’t love the Hurricanes in a neutral setting, but we all know how in-state rivalry games go.

Hurricanes – Gators: Game of the week

 

Here are three ways the Hurricanes can not only make a game of it, but steal a huge early season win.

The Hurricanes Pass Defense vs Felipe Franks

A once maligned position for the Gators has found some stability finally with Felipe Franks under center.

Franks made huge strides between his freshman and sophomore seasons and is expected to build on that again this year.

Where he has struggled historically is with accuracy, completing less than 57% of his passes for his career.

Franks does take care of the ball, only throwing six interceptions last year against 24 touchdowns.

On the other side of the coin is the Hurricanes pass defense, which last year was a major strength.

Manny Diaz’s defensive group was the best in college football in yards allowed per game in 2018.

They also led the nation in third down defense.

If the Miami defense can have some success on early downs, the pass rush should be able to generate pressure on Franks when it counts.

We all know what that means.

 

Gators Offensive Line is Suspect

That pass rush may have some success against a retooled Gators front five.

Florida lost four starters from last season and they will be put to the test right away.

The Gators only allowed 18 sacks last year, however with a lot of new moving parts there could be some early communication issues.

Miami will give Franks a lot of looks and you can bet there will be pressure on all levels, led by Jonathan Garvin on the defensive line.

Garvin comes off a breakout sophomore season with career bests in tackles (60) and sacks (5.5) along with two fumble recoveries.

We all know about the experienced and talented linebacker group, expect them to cause some confusion among the Gator front five.

Enos has a Plan for Jordan and Mallory

Another matchup the Hurricanes can exploit is the dual threats at tight end in Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory.

Dan Enos has brought in a system that gives the tight end group a lot of opportunities from multiple formations.

Florida has an excellent secondary led by cornerbacks CJ Henderson, Jr. and Marco Wilson, so Williams will have to be careful with the ball on the outside.

Thankfully for a new starting quarterback, the tight end combo of Jordan and Mallory are a nice safety net.

The Hurricanes will have to play a near perfect game to pull of the upset.

If Miami can keep the game close in the first half in a rivalry game, anything can happen.

Follow me on Twitter @SportsWaveDave. Tweet and at me saying who will win. Hurricanes or Gators?

Make sure to check out the 5 Rings Canes Podcast for exclusive Miami Hurricanes content.

 

 

Transfer Portal Shuffles Hurricanes Secondary

The Miami Hurricanes secondary approaches their season opener against Florida with some dissent within their ranks.

Miami lost not one but two members of that group in the past week.

Transfer portal giveth, transfer portal taketh away.

 

The departure of Smith will hurt the depth at safety, but the Hurricanes still have plenty of talent left to fill the void. The 6-foot-2, 220 pound Smith was the biggest safety on the team but did not perform up to expectations.

Amari Carter and Robert Knowles were both ahead of him for the strong safety spot. Carter enters his junior season ready for a leadership role, having played 25 games for the Hurricanes already.

USC transfer Bubba Bolden is also in the mix for playing time. Bolden was a teammate of Tate Martell at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas and the redshirt sophomore has tremendous upside but will need to get up to speed being a late arrival to the program. Once he settles in his talent is too great not to get extensive run.

At free safety Gurvan Hall  appears to be the front runner to start the season. The highly recruited Hall is a sophomore from Palm Beach Gardens who saw action in 12 games last year and is poised for a much larger contribution this year.

Besides Smith the Hurricanes secondary depth took another hit, losing cornerback Nigel Bethel. Miami is a little thinner at the corner spot, Bethel was battling for the fourth cornerback position with Christian Williams and Te’Cory Couch.

 

The freshmen Williams and Couch, along with sophomore DJ Ivey will be key rotational pieces throughout the season.

Leading the way in the Hurricanes secondary is junior cornerback Trajan Bandy.

The Muddy Badger is one of the top corners in the ACC and owns one of the best recent moments for The U.

 

Bandy really broke out in his sophomore season, notching career highs in just about every important defensive category.

His five “Turnover Chains” also led the team and Bandy earned a spot on the Jim Thorpe Award watch list.

Across from Bandy at the opposite corner will likely be Al Blades, Jr. who enters his sophomore season as a player on the rise.

Blades looks to continue the incredible family tradition at Miami and has all the physical and mental makeup to do so. He served as special teams captain twice last year and like his family who played here is a great vocal and emotional leader.

Ivey is another defensive back to watch, he played in 11 games last year mostly on special teams. With the departure of Bethel he slots in as the third cornerback on the depth chart.

Follow us on Twitter for more Miami Hurricanes @SportsWaveDave and @5ReasonsSports.

Check out the 5 Rings Canes podcast for exclusive Canes content all season.

 

Related:

Jarren Williams named QB1

Jarren Williams is the Hurricanes’ QB1

Well, that was suspenseful.

Manny Diaz, the new coach of the Miami Hurricanes, hadn’t revealed much about the quarterback competition between holdovers Jarren Williams and N’Kosi Perry, and transfer Tate Martell.

But a day before Media Day, Diaz spilled the goods.

The winner is Williams, who nearly left the program last season, a couple of times.

This wasn’t a total surprise, since the chatter has been trending that way of late. Word was that Williams has been most consistent in practices, and he has the most pure arm talent of the trio.

Reaction on Twitter was mostly positive.

Here’s some context…

Now we wait to see how he plays against Florida.

Can’t be worse than Malik Rosier, right?

3 Things We Want to Know After Tonight’s Canes Scrimmage

With just 14 days remaining before the Canes head up to Orlando to face Florida, many questions still surround this team’s roster. I break down what I feel are 3 major roster questions we want to be answered by the time tonight’s scrimmage is over with. 

Question #1: The Big Uglies

Let’s start with one of the biggest surprises in camp so far. Offensive lineman Zion Nelson was once thought of as a redshirt project with good skills that would need a few years to develop, especially at a very thin 240 pounds. Fast forward a few months and that 240-pound project is now weighing 290 pounds(reported by Nelson himself) and starting at LEFT TACKLE! Yes, you heard that right, LEFT TACKLE. I said to myself, Coach Barry(Offensive Line Coach) must be challenging his guys and we will see the real starting left tackle after the first scrimmage. But I was wrong. Nelson kept his job as LT1 and it seems as though it may stay that way. That means one of two things to me – this kid is really special – or we are incredibly screwed. 

Two other guys to keep your eye on that could possibly get some playing time if Nelson can’t hold it down: Kai-Leon Herbert and John Campbell. Herbert was getting a lot of first-team reps at right tackle along with Campbell, who ended up starting on the right side during the first scrimmage. Look for one of those two to get the nod August 24th at right tackle. 

Question #2: It’s the Muddy Badger and who?

We all know that Trajan Bandy is the leader in the Canes secondary. Bandy has the opportunity to be one of the best cornerbacks in the ACC. The question is, who will emerge as the other starting cornerback? Al Blades Jr. seems to be the front runner right now to start. He took first-team reps during last week’s scrimmage and has been atop the depth chart for some time now. However, I would not put sophomore DJ Ivey too far behind. Look for today’s scrimmage to be the one that helps solidify that spot. 

The concern what’s behind those three. Young players like Nigel Bethel, Jr., Te’Cory Couch and Christian Williams will have to step up and be ready to play when their name is called. The key to this group being successful is health.

The safeties seem to be shaping up nicely. Yesterday was the first day of practice for USC transfer Bubba Bolden. The addition solidifies what is already looking like a strong group. Right now it looks like the Canes will start with Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall. Don’t be surprised if you see Junior, Derrick Smith get a lot of playing time after moving back to safety from the striker position. I’m tempted to mention Robert Knowles…nevermind.

Question #3: Who’s My Quarterback?

Who will be the Miami Hurricanes starting quarterback? I am just going to get right into it. Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos is installing a brand new offense. None of the three have played in this system before and have all had growing pains. Some days Tate Martell does a few things better than the rest. Another day N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams make some really nice throws and Tate can’t hit water if he fell off a boat. All three are doing good things and not so good things. Let’s take one thing off the table right away, experience. Those making the argument that one should get the start over the other because of experience need to stop. None of them have experience! This is a new scheme, that none have played in before. And honestly, why do fans care so much about experience? Let me know how that worked out for Tua and Sunshine. I know these guys are not Tua or Lawrence, but there are plenty of young quarterbacks in college football that help their team win. 

 

3 Canes QB's vying for the starting role.

Who wins the battle at QB? (Left to Right) Jarren Williams, Tate Martell, N’Kosi Perry.

Jarren Williams is the most accurate according to many and throws with great touch. His knock was that he wasn’t very quick on his feet until Coach Manny Diaz said he was one of the guys that ran 20 mph in testing. Can he read and dissect plays quickly? 

N’Kosi Perry can spin it. He has great arm strength, can run and escape the pocket and does like to chuck it down the field. His aggressiveness has also gotten him in some trouble before. He tends to take too many risks and makes dumb throws. Has he learned the playbook? 

Tate Martell is a leader. His leadership and moxie, I think, are what make Martell stand out. He doesn’t throw the prettiest ball but can get it there. In my mind, he is the best runner of the three. His lack of accuracy at times could be a cause for concern. However, his rapport with former Bishop Gorman teammate Brevin Jordan and Buffalo transfer KJ Osborn are definitely a good thing. 

I have a feeling Coach Diaz already knows who his guy is at quarterback. If he doesn’t, he will know tonight. The question is, will he tell the rest of us? 

 

My picks: 

Tackle   

LT- Zion Nelson

RT- John Campbell

Cornerback

Al blades, Jr. or DJ Ivey (They will split reps)

2 Deep Safety

FS- Gurvan Hall, Bubba Bolden

SS- Amari Carter or Derrick Smith (Let’s see how tonight plays out)

Quarterback

1- Tate Martell or Jarren Williams or N’Kosi Perry 

Latest UM Hurricanes Recruiting Outlook

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:

 

Quarterback

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.

 

Running Back

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.)

 

Wide Receiver

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.

 

Tight End

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.

Offensive Line

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.

 

Defensive Line

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 

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.

Defensive Back

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.