Miami recruiting: Get ready for big summer for Hurricanes
Miami is on its way to one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. David Wilson and the DieHards.com team are in the eye of the storm to help you track the Hurricanes. Read daily notebooks here at 6:30 p.m. ET from Sunday through Thursday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Miami recruiting news.
What does Miami need to do on the trail this summer?
It’s Memorial Day, and that marks the unofficial start to summer. The evaluation period wraps up Thursday, and camps will be getting underway once June begins. Miami coaches will hope for an arrival of elite talent on campus each weekend.
The next two months, beginning with coach Mark Richt’s first camp Saturday and concluding with Paradise Camp in late July, will be crucial for the Hurricanes’ Class of 2019. Miami sits at a respectable No. 10 in the 247Sports composite team rankings, but the Hurricanes ranked significantly higher this time last year because of some major winter and spring commitments.
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This time around, summer will be a turning point for the Hurricanes. Can Miami reel off a string of elite pledges and vault back toward No. 1? Or will the Hurricanes’ big push have to wait until closer to the signing periods? This is what Miami will have to accomplish if the Hurricanes want to avoid the latter:
Land Michael Johnson Jr.
Miami put basically all its chips on Michael Johnson Jr. at quarterback in the Class of 2019. The 4-star dual-threat quarterback has said he plans to make a decision by early July, so the most important thing the Hurricanes can do the next few months is land the quarterback from Sheldon High School in Eugene, Ore.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior named Miami to his top 7 earlier this month along with North Carolina State, LSU, Penn State, Nebraska, Oregon and Arizona State. Texas A&M, which has since offered, is now in the mix, too. Of his list, the Hurricanes are one of the few teams Johnson already has visited. While the Elite 11 finalist has plenty of visits ahead of him, it seems Miami leads for now. Landing Johnson, whom the 247Sports composite rankings peg as a top-200 overall prospect, is a must if the Hurricanes want a blue-chip quarterback this cycle.
Seal the deal with Kenny McIntosh
Miami needs a blue-chip running back to go with 3-star prospect Marcus Crowley in this class. It appears increasingly more likely Kenny McIntosh will fit the bill. The 4-star running back from NSU University School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is the younger brother of former Hurricanes defensive lineman RJ McIntosh and comes from a family of Miami fans. The 6-1, 205-pound halfback would like to make a decision by the end of the summer, and it’s clear the Hurricanes lead for now.
Still, McIntosh to Miami isn’t a done deal. The senior wants to spend the summer visiting a number of schools, including Alabama and Ohio State. Clemson has fallen out of the race, though, and the Hurricanes should be able to lock up South Florida’s top tailback in the 2019 class.
Make a major run at Keon Zipperer
This one probably already has started. While most of Florida’s top in-state targets were in Gainesville on May 19 for the Gator Grill-Out, Zipperer was in Coral Gables, Fla., visiting Miami for the third time in 2018. As this looks like a battle between the Hurricanes and Florida, this visit felt particularly important.
With no obvious blue-chip wide receiver hanging around to join 4-star wide receiver Jeremiah Payton in Miami’s 2019 class, the Hurricanes can make up for it by landing the state’s top two tight ends. The 6-4, 232-pound receiver from Lakeland High School hasn’t given an indication as to when he’ll commit, so this summer will be about creating separation from the Gators. A haul of Zipperer and 3-star tight end Larry Hodges would potentially give Miami the best tight ends class in the country for the second straight year.
Get elite offensive linemen on campus
The Hurricanes already have one blue-chip offensive lineman in their class with 4-star tackle Michael Tarquin, plus a potential center of the future with 3-star guard Kingsley Eguakun. Miami needs all the help it can get on the offensive line, though, which means finding an elite tackle this cycle is key. Although technically a 4-star guard, Evan Neal is probably the best bet. The 6-8, 363-pound offensive lineman started at tackle last season for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and plans to do so again this coming season. Florida State and Alabama are in the mix, but Neal’s family is sold on the Hurricanes. Miami could land him sometime this summer if a visit goes particularly well.
Neal isn’t the only elite lineman the Hurricanes need to get on campus this summer. Miami would like to make a run at Darnell Wright, although the 5-star tackle from Huntington (W.Va.) High School has yet to visit the Hurricanes. That has to happen soon if Miami has any hope to make up ground on Virginia Tech, Alabama, Tennessee and Ohio State with the 6-6, 290-pound lineman. The more realistic elite lineman on the market, however, is William Putnam. The 4-star guard from Henry B. Plant High School in Tampa, Fla., left a November visit to Hard Rock Stadium blown away. Putnam hasn’t visited since, though. That also needs to change if the Hurricanes want to make up ground on Florida State and others with the 6-4, 285-pound senior, who can play anywhere on the line.
Build up the defensive line
The defensive line is probably Miami’s biggest position of need in 2019, and the Hurricanes have a long way to go to fill out the group. After 3-star tackle Renato Brown de-committed on May 21, Miami only holds pledges from 3-star weakside defensive end Cameron Williams and 3-star defensive tackle Denzel Daxon. Both possess quite a bit of upside — particularly Williams — but the Hurricanes need to find at least one blue-chip prospect this summer.
Braylen Ingraham is Miami’s best hope to do so. The 4-star strongside defensive end from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale has said he hopes to make a decision this summer. As of now, the Hurricanes are at worst caught in a tight race with Oklahoma. The 6-4, 270-pound defensive end, who projects best as a defensive tackle for Miami, plans to make an official visit to Kentucky the weekend of June 8. A decision could come soon after. The Hurricanes can’t afford to miss out on one of the Miami metropolitan area’s few blue-chip defensive linemen this cycle.
Find clarity in secondary
Even with 4-star safety Keontra Smith locked in, the Hurricanes have about a dozen combinations of defensive backs that feel like realistic options in 2019. Blue-chip defensive backs Tyrique Stevenson, Mark-Antony Richards, Josh Sanguinetti, Jordan Battle and Jaden Davis are seriously considering Miami. John Dixon, Cornelius Nunn and Jarvis Brownlee are high on the Hurricanes, too. Elite cornerback Chris Steele plans to officially visit the weekend of June 16. Locking up a handful of these players would go a long way toward putting this class on the right track.
As of now, Davis, Nunn and Steele intend to make July decisions. Stevenson, Richards and Dixon could make up their minds by the end of the summer or beginning of the fall. The Hurricanes won’t be able to build the entire class this summer, but they should try to head into the fall with at least one more potential star locked up to go with Smith. A narrower list of targets heading into the early signing period could ensure Miami another strong group in the secondary. Beating out Florida to land St. Thomas Aquinas’ Davis, and holding off the Gators and Auburn to reel in Wellington (Fla.) High School’s Richards is a realistic outcome.
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