Less than four months into his UF career, Class of 2020 OL signee Issiah Walker has entered the transfer portal. While the reasoning behind it is unclear, it’s an interesting predicament for the Canes as Manny Diaz is now in a position to land one of their most coveted prospects that they came up short on during this past recruiting cycle.
Walker was rated as the 15th-best OT in the country and 156th overall according to 247Sports. He was committed to South Carolina for a little over a year before re-opening his recruitment last July. From there, it was a heated battle between Florida and Miami. Walker even made frequent visits to Coral Gables, forming a good relationship with coach Diaz and then-OL coach Butch Barry. Walker committed to the Gators in October and enrolled in the spring.
Miami now has an interesting choice to make because Houston junior OL Jarrid Williams also entered the transfer portal as a grad transfer. The 6’7”, 305 pound lineman received a medical redshirt in 2019 but his best season came in 2018. Williams blocked for an offense that ranked 5th in the nation in scoring offense and seventh in total offense. His quarterback that year you may ask?
D’Eriq King, one of Miami’s newest transfers and the presumptive starter at quarterback in 2020.
With the 2020 recruiting class and three transfers, Miami currently has one spot left for any new player this year. It essentially comes down to this: do you go after the talented but younger Walker, where he’ll have four years of eligibility and add to the OL depth in the long-term? Or do you opt for a more win-now situation with Williams, who has the talent and the familiarity with the offense and personnel?
On top of that, former coach Mark Richt took loyalty and the value of the U very seriously when he was top dog. There were several cases of players who spurned Miami during the recruiting process but had interest in transferring to Miami later on. Richt refused to give them any thought.
One that comes to mind was former four-star wide receiver Trevon Grimes, who signed with Ohio State in 2017. He saw action in only two games before deciding to transfer. While he was heavily considering Miami after talking to some of his former high school teammates, Richt was not having it. It’s a new coaching regime now but it is something that Manny Diaz should consider with Walker. At times during Walker’s recruitment, Walker flirted enough to make the Canes think they were getting the hometown benefit and were bound to land his signature.
I’m sure the positives about Williams I listed are almost guaranteed. However, when it comes to competing with the Alabama’s, the Georgia’s and the Clemson’s, one of the advantages they have over all of the other Power 5 teams is depth. The only difference between the 1’s and 2’s on their respective rosters is experience. The depth is a result of those coaches having elite recruiting classes coming in every year. This increases competition in practices and lets players know that if you slack, that five-star recruit can come in next year and steal your starting job. Walker would be here not only for 2020 but for at least the next three years.
Okay so there really isn’t any tanking involved with this. But another bit of transfer news worth monitoring is Alabama sophomore QB Taulia Tagovailoa and his decision to enter the portal. If that name carries a little bit of familiarity, he is the younger brother of the newest QB for the Miami Dolphins: 2020 5th overall pick Tua Tagovailoa.
Taulia served as the backup quarterback in Tuscaloosa this past year as a freshman and completed 9 of 12 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. And to ease any concerns that he was a take for Nick Saban just because of his last name, he was ranked the 5th-best pro-style QB coming out of high school in 2019. So yeah he’s no fluke.
He was slated to be the backup again this year but with top recruit Bryce Young coming in, it makes those possibilities a little more foggy.
It’s no secret that the Tagovailoa family fancies the city of Miami but I would consider their.reunion to be unlikely for two reasons.
For one, Miami already has a QB in for this class in Tyler Van Dyke. The second reason is, as I previously mentioned, the more pressing need is currently on the offensive line. Just a reminder that Miami only signed two offensive linemen in the past cycle.
The only way I see Taulia making the move would be if Diaz can work the numbers or pull off some magic by somehow counting him towards this upcoming recruiting cycle in 2021.