Because of the timing of the coaching change at Miami, Al Golden only had 15 actual days he was allowed to recruit and somehow salvage a class that had a whopping two commitments still on board when he was hired.
Two weeks. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on signing day said he was working on some players in his class for two years.
This year’s Miami class didn’t make a huge splash nationally, but it met the most immediate position needs with the exception of quarterback, and a scholarship is still on hold should the right one come along. Golden and his staff got the job done by retaining the commitment of defensive end Anthony Chickillo, the highlight of this year’s class, and bringing in four-star defensive end Jalen Grimble.
“Not that we’re where Florida State is right now,” Golden said, “but it’s a pretty good save considering where we were.”
It’s an impressive effort, considering eight of Miami’s signees were once committed to other programs. Golden said Miami didn’t have a lot of scholarships to give, but bodes well for the future because the staff can load up in an offseason that’s not a transition year.
“I’m excited because we went into this class not specifically to recruit an entire class, but to fill specific needs of the current team,” Golden said. “By that standpoint, we’re blessed. We have a strong offensive line returning. We have strong running backs returning. But where we needed help, we went and met those needs.”
That includes the kicking game. With the departure of Matt Bosher, landing another kicker was imperative, and Golden signed two, including the No. 18 kicker in the country in Matt Goudis. The Canes also added depth with four linebackers, three corners and three defensive linemen.
Brennan Carroll, Miami’s national recruiting coordinator, said the staff didn’t compromise on talent just to fill this class.
“We really feel like we didn’t have to reach with any of these guys,” he said. “We didn’t have to drop down a talent level just to take guys. We’re proud of that.”
Miami offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, whose NFL-heavy resume includes one season of collegiate coaching, said putting this class together so quickly was a bigger challenge than he expected it to be. As the quarterbacks coach, he was tasked with visiting every potential quarterback on their board. He tried to also visit as many offensive targets as possible.
“I think I forgot how important the time you spend with the seniors in high school, how important it is to some of these guys and their parents that you almost feel like you walk in there and you feel like you can walk off an NFL playoff field and sell them on football, on what they’re going to gain on what they’re going to come from the U and the University of Miami,” he said. “And you forget that some of their responses might be, ‘Well, I’ve known the quarterbacks coach at another school for seven months.’ It’s so critical to keep moving forward and talking about how we have a chance to change the future. We can never change the past.”
Carroll said the staff has been going “500 miles per hour trying to get everything in order.”
“There’s a lot of working going into what we did and what we’re still trying to do,” he said. “Part of it’s good because we feel like we’ve gotten somewhere, but this is just the start of what we’re trying to get done here.”