Now that it is all but over, with the exception of Bryce Brown, we have come up with a report card of sorts. Here are the grades position by position for this years recruiting class:
After coach Shannon let Marve loose after the end of the year, I figured we would go after a couple guys. Apparently coach Shannon was content with what he has now, as am I. Not only did I consider Jacory the better fit for our program, but I am also very comfortable with Taylor Cook as our backup. There is just something about the kid I like. We did end up landing one quarterback. A.J. Highsmith committed early on in the process and was never consider anything less than a Cane lock. The downside is that A.J., who is the son of former UM great Alonzo Highsmith, is not considered to remain a quarterback for long. Everyone has predicted him to make the switch to cornerback. Although I fully expect him to compete at the beginning at the quarterback position, I do think he will eventually make the move over to cornerback. I like him at QB. I say give the kid a fair shot. The upside I see in his switch besides the lack of depth would be that he could run the scout offense when we do face schools like Georgia Tech.
Did we clean house or what? Even with Bryce not signing yet, we have two legit playmakers at the position. Mike James and Lamar Miller are two excellent runningback prospects, each having their own style of running. James being the more powerful back and Miller being the more breakaway type back. I saw James yesterday a the signing day festivies on campus and wow, the kid is a man physically already. Considerably bigger than all the backs we have now. He looks like he could be plugged into the lineup right now and be more physically imposing than anyone else. I look for both to get considerable time this year. James has been enrolled since January and will seem to have an advantage on any other back coming in June. With Javarris always being nicked up and Coop not looking like that everyday back, I see these guys along with Lee Chambers to step up and make some noise. Plus I do believe we sign Bryce Brown soon, Rivals #1 player in America. That could possibly make this RB one of the best ever.
GRADE: A (A+ with Bryce)
As I expected, Miami did not receive one wide receiver recruit in this class. The two guys they were going after hard, Reuben Randle and Andre DeBose were interested at one time, but dropped Miami as time got closer to NSD. I am not too surprised but I figure they might pull something out of their magic hat on this one. The one receiver I do believe we wiffed on was Jheranie Boyd, #4 WR by rivals. He was rumored to be dying to get an offer from us but never received one. Keep an eye out on this kid, his film looks impressive. Bad thing was he ended up signing with UNC. Here's his film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3u0y0nzJkE Good thing is next year the cupboard is full of good receivers again down here in Dade and Broward.
I actually though we did well at this position. We lost out at the end with Sheldon Richardson when he chose to stick with Missouri yesterday, but we did get a bit of a surprise when Billy Sanders, who was committed to us, then decommitted to UCLA, chose to come back and stick with us at the end. Stephen Plein was our other recruit who signed the LOI yesterday as well. Plein being the better blocker of the two , could possibly end up playing offensive line. He is up to 250lbs already, but he does have decent hands. Sanders fits into the mold of a Jeremy Shockey. Very good pass catcher with good feet and decent speed. I think what helped with Sanders was the opportunity to play early with the injury to senior starting TE Dedrick Epps. Look for him to make his presence known in the pass catching game. Cory White is another so-called TE signing. Coaches consider him an OL prospect, as do we. Cory has already said he would like to play OL and at 6'6, 250lbs, he is on the right track. We will save him for the OL assessment.
If you look at the list, you first think to yourself, hey, we didn't do too bad. We could've done way better. I am not saying we did bad, but the fact is that we fell short with a couple of kids that
"should've" chosen Miami. Guys we fell short with: Peter White, went to Maryland, thought we had a real good chance with him. Andrew Tiller, signed with Syracuse. Syracuse? I know his JUCO coach is now a coach at Syracuse, but you can't compare. Another one that slipped our fingers... Quinton Washington. Now I do believe we got on him a little too late, but he was another one that was rumored to be favoring us. Committed to Michigan. This one guy, we had no business of being a finalist for, would've been a great get. Marcus Hall out of Glenville, a breeding ground and pipeline for Ohio State football. Who would have thought. With a coach like Ted Ginn Sr., how does the thought of playing at Miami even cross his mind? Who cares. It was close, but no cigar. He chose OSU. But forget about the kids we missed on, lets talk the big boys we did get. Jermaine Johnson, a prep school kid and South Florida native, was committed to Auburn coming out of high school, but did not qualify. After a few years at Hargrave Academy, only playing one of the years, he chose the Canes. He looks huge at 6'6, 309lbs. I saw him yesterday as well, and looks a lot bigger and more developed than I pictured. Another kid I am excited about is Delaware native Malcolm Bunche. Great footwork and knows how to finish off blocks. Jared Wheeler out of American Heritage was another good kid. From what I got out of press conference announcing coach Whipple as our OC, coach Whipple likes to pull with his offensive line. Wheeler from the tapes is a helluva puller and looks to be the man for that role. Brandon Washington committed to us last yr out of Miami Northwestern, but did not qualify. He played one year up in New York at Milford prep, got his grades up and was an early enrollee this year at Miami. We have high expectations for B-Wash and think he could compete for a starting spot on the line this year. Now I can mention Cory White. White has expressed interest in playing tight end as well as offensive line. He played on the line all year at his high school. He said that in this past year, he grew from 6'4, 225lbs., to 6'6, 250lbs. At that rate, he could be a force to be reckoned with at the tackle position. Do I hear Eric Winston? only time will tell. The future could be bright on the line.
GRADE: B+ (Almost A-...almost)
I think we did an excellent job solidifying the defensive end position with the addition of Olivier Vernon (already enrolled) and Dyron Dye, out of Sanford Seminole, gator country baby!!! I am not sure how much playing time thses kids will get, but I am sure they will get every opportunity to showcase their skills and beat someone out. Look for Vernon to get the upper edge because he is already enrolled and will perform in Spring drills. The guys that might see more time are the tackles. Luther Robinson, who was wavering a bit and was receiving a hard late push by UF, made the right choice and chose the Canes. Curtis Porter (already enrolled) was the other DT signed by Miami. Both look to challenge for a spot on the depth chart, due to the loss of a few guys from the interior of that line. I think our strong point was our line and this class just added some depth and talent to the position.
I don't think we are as deep as we want to be at the linebacker position. Shayon Green out of Tifton, GA, is rated as defensive end, but I do believe he stays at linebacker for the time being for added depth. Big strong kid already at 6'2, 225lbs., Green could see some time on special teams. Next year we definitely need to address the position again. Green was the only linebacker taken in this class. Linebackers we were finalists for, but fell short were; Tana Patrick (Alabama), Greg King (Tennessee) and Sam Barrington (South Florida).
Along with runningback, I would say, defensive back was a strong suit in this recruiting class. With the exception of losing Kayvon Webster in a switcharoo yesterday and maybe a couple other kids who had us in their top 3, we did a decent job. Our prize recruit came out of the DB spot, with 5 star STUD Ray Ray Armstrong. Ray Ray was rated the #1 athlete by rivals and will play safety at the U. Armstong will come in and right away be in the mix for a starting spot at the position, even with the stockpile of safeties we have now. Jamal Reid is another signee. Reid came in rated #17 athlete and could possibly end playing both ways a bit. He is a great receiver as well. Prince Kent is a big kid at 6'3, 195lbs. Kent could fill in and mature into a great safety and possibly an outside linebacker. I think, for now, he redshirts though. The player no one talks about and is possibly one of the best pure corners in the nation is Brandon McGee. He could end up being the best player in this class once it's said and done. The most important thing a cornerback needs are hips. By that we mean he has to be able to turn his hips at a very quick rate in order to properly cover a receiver. We think he has this. Also, because of his speed and quickness, look for him to be a factor in the kicking game as well.
That rounds up this years recruiting class. We are obviously still awaiting the decision of Bryce Brown. Although the waiting game is tiresome, no one can deny they want him here.
Look for our next installment as we will get into the DC discussion. Some formidable names are surfacing now and we have the scoop on them. Stay tuned.
Thanks for reading and GO CANES!!!