Miami closed out the last recruiting season with a solid but unspectacular class, finishing No. 13 overall. It wasn't a sexy class because the Hurricanes loaded up on linemen, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Then the Canes got a huge boost in the post-signing day additions of five-star offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, who left USC after sanctions there were announced, and four-star defensive back Latwan Anderson, who was once committed with West Virginia but signed with the Canes in March. Those recruits, coupled with coach Randy Shannon's contract extension and expectations of good things this year in Miami, should give the Canes a boost in recruiting.
Who the Hurricanes have
Miami already has six commits for the 2011 class, including Miami Northwestern High School four-star QB Teddy Bridgewater. Some say that this ESPNU 150 member will not be a quarterback at the next level, that he projects higher at receiver or even safety. Maybe, but how could you at least not give him the benefit of the doubt as a quarterback? Bridgewater has size (6-foot-2, 179 pounds), great athleticism, a strong arm and the ability to make plays with his legs and extend a play. He is the high school version of Vince Young. In fact, at the same stage, Bridgewater is much further along as a thrower than Young was in the fall of 2001. It's not even close and athletically, they are the same player. Bridgewater is confident, fearless and a leader. He could be the heir apparent to Jacory Harris at the U.
Two South Florida receivers are already committed to the Canes in Miami Northwestern's Eli Rogers and Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas' Phillip Dorsett. Both Rogers and Dorsett are very explosive and certainly big play guys who should fit in nicely at Miami. Rogers, a four-star prospect and an Under Armour All-American, is an ESPNU 150 member and the No. 20 rated receiver in the nation. Dorsett is a three-star prospect and the No. 43 wideout in the country, but don't be surprised if Dorsett makes an official visit to Chapel Hill this fall.
Some offensive linemen might not look at Miami because of the number of players it took from that position last year, but that didn't stop Marcus Jackson, a four-star offensive guard from Vero Beach (Fla.) Senior, from committing to the Hurricanes. In fact, he made his Miami pledge in December and has the highest grade of any player in the Canes' class so far. Jackson, an Under Armour All-American, attended Florida's Friday Night Lights camp over the weekend but insists he's 100 percent Hurricane. Jackson is the No. 6 offensive guard prospect in the nation and is No. 86 in the ESPNU 150.
Miami has two defensive prospects in linebacker Nick Menocal from Miami (Fla.) Belen Jesuit and cornerback Albert Louis-Jean from Brockton (Mass.) HS. Menocal is 6-2, 225 pounds and has speed and athleticism on the edge, while Louis-Jean is a big corner at 6-1 and 175 pounds. So how does a defensive back from Massachusetts end up at Miami? It's simple: Miami is his dream school. Louis-Jean is raw at this stage but has all the tools to be an outstanding player. The lasting question for the Canes with him is can they hang on to him? Despite his love for the Canes, teams like Penn State are not giving up on Louis-Jean.
While Miami isn't loaded with commitments like some other schools, it is still off to a good start with these six recruits. Shannon & Co. did well in their backyard of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties last year, but this year they are doing even better.
Who the Hurricanes still want
Miami is setting itself up for a really good class and is in some classic recruiting battles with Florida, FSU, Clemson, Alabama and many others for some of the nation's top prospects.
Running back is a tough sell for Miami because it is so loaded at this position. Still, there are two at this point to keep a close eye on with five-star James Wilder from Tampa (Fla.) Plant and four-star Savon Huggins from Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's. At one point Wilder named Miami his leader. Many think he's Florida's to lose, while others say he could be headed to Athens. He spent this past weekend in Tallahassee. So where he ends up is anyone's guess. One thing is for sure: Wilder will likely make a decision very soon, and the Canes are in the hunt. Huggins recently trimmed his list to 10 schools and Miami made the cut, joining Notre Dame, Penn State and Georgia among others.
The Hurricanes are in big-time battles for four-star Belle Glades (Fla.) Central WR Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, Fla.) and four-star South Fort Meyers (Fla.) HS wideout Sammy Watkins. Both the Canes and Gators have huge ties to Benjamin's high school, but Miami is reportedly the team to beat at this point for the 6-5, 210-pound receiver. Watkins, on the other hand, has been going back and forth between Clemson and Miami. Now it seems as though the Tigers are in the lead but that could change. His brother, Jaylen, signed with Florida this past season.
Miami is the leader for four-star Cleveland Glenview ATH Shane Wynn, who will likely end up as a receiver, and could be in the mix for four-star wideout DaVaris Daniels from Vernon Hill (Ill.) HS and Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra five-star WR George Farmer (Gardena, Calif.), though many feel that he will likely end up at USC.
A huge recruiting battle is underway for Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer's five-star TE Nick O'Leary. This is shaping up to be a battle between Miami, FSU, Florida, Alabama and Georgia, and many think he could end up in Coral Gables. This should be an interesting recruitment with plenty of rumors and innuendo, especially considering O'Leary doesn't like talking to the media.
Four-star Brandon Fulse from Ft. Meade (Fla.) Senior is another highly-rated tight end prospect who is very interested in the Hurricanes. But he also likes Auburn, FSU and many others.
One player who could certainly end up at Miami is defensive end Anthony Chickillo (Tampa, Fla.). He would be a third-generation Hurricane and it would be a stunner if he ended up somewhere else. Other defensive ends to keep an eye on are five-star Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe) and four-star D-linemen Ishaq Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln),
Aaron Lynch (Cape Coral, Fla./Island Coast), Giorgio Newberry (Ft. Pierce, Fla./Central), and Bryant Dubose (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Northeast). Clowney lists Alabama and South Carolina as his favorites, but the nation's top prospect really wants to visit Miami. And remember, that's all you can ask for if you are Randy Shannon.
Coral Gables (Fla.) HS three-star linebacker Denzel Perryman (Coral Gables, Fla.) should ink with the Hurricanes, while Miami trails Clemson for five-star ILB Tony Steward from St. Augustine (Fla.) Pedro Menendez. Miami is also in the hunt for four-star Curtis Grant (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) and four-star OLB Lateek Townsend (Bennettsville, S.C./Marlboro County).
Miami wants to add some help in the secondary. Watch out for Marcus Roberson (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), Jabari Gorman (Miami, Fla./Pace), Dallas Crawford (Fort Myers, Fla./South Fort Myers), Robenson Therezie (Miami, Fla./Jackson) and athlete Dominique Terrell (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park).
Miami could very well close with an unbelievable class. The key will certainly be how the Hurricanes play this fall. There is plenty of talent on the roster but the schedule is brutal, including a three-game stretch of games at Ohio State, Pitt and Clemson. A good season and Miami will reap the benefits on the recruiting trail. An underwhelming season where Shannon gets placed back on the hot seat (considering he just signed an extension, it would take a total collapse for him to be fired) and all bets are off.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.