Miami recruiting: Handing out Class of 2018 superlatives
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 10 a.m. ET from Monday through Friday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Miami recruiting news.
Miami recruiting class superlatives
With about half a week to fully digest the final signings of Miami’s Class of 2018, it’s just about time to move full bore into the Class of 2019. The Hurricanes are ready to build on the success of this most recent cycle — the 247Sports composite ranked Miami’s haul the No. 8 class in the country — with even more success in 2019.
RELATED: 2019 Miami recruiting big board
But first, let’s take one last look back on the 23 players Miami is adding in 2018. The Hurricanes have put together a group which could vault them back into consistent national relevance. So let’s hand out some future hardware to these future Hurricanes.
Most likely to win a Heisman Trophy: Lorenzo Lingard
I went into Lorenzo Lingard’s Heisman bona fides a little bit Thursday. The case is simple: He’s one of the best players in his class at one of the few positions with a realistic chance of winning the trophy.
A case could certainly be made for 4-star pro-style quarterback Jarren Williams, but quarterbacks are just too hard to project. Lingard, Miami’s only 5-star prospect in the class, will be a Day 1 contributor at running back and potentially a starter by his sophomore season. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound running back has every physical tool scouts want and his track-star speed — he has Olympic aspirations as a hurdler — means he’s going to put together enough highlight-reel runs to gather national attention. This fall, he ran for 1,701 yards and 26 touchdowns on 207 carries, and caught another 10 passes for 142 yards.
Lingard, already enrolled at Miami, is the first Florida Gatorade Player of the Year to join the Hurricanes as a running back since Willis McGahee. Not bad company.
Most likely to score a touchdown first: Brevin Jordan
Picking a running back such as Lingard is on its face the safest bet. Miami is still probably going to give running back Travis Homer the bulk of the goal-line cracks, though, which means one of the Hurricanes’ many incoming pass catchers will have a chance to beat Lingard to the end zone.
Brevin Jordan checks all the boxes for this superlative. The 4-star tight end is one of the most likely freshman to start on offense and his position will make him a favorite red-zone target. And he can score from the goal line or stretch the field as he frequently did at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound athlete also played outside linebacker in a dominant senior season — 63 catches for 1,111 yards and 13 touchdowns, and added another 53 yards and 3 touchdowns on 9 carries. Only Lingard was a more consistent touchdown threat in the Hurricanes’ class than the nation’s top-ranked tight end.
Most likely to become a top-10 NFL draft pick: Nesta Silvera
The two top prospects in Miami’s class — Lingard and Jordan — both play positions which don’t frequently get picked in the top 10, so this falls to the No. 3 player of the group. Nesta Silvera may be a bit undersized at 6-foot-2 and 295 pounds, but it’s not unheard of for undersized defensive tackles to go early in the draft. Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, also 6-2, could be a top-10 pick this year. Warren Sapp, to whom Silvera has drawn comparisons, went No. 12 as a 6-2 defensive tackle from the Hurricanes in 1995.
Silvera plays a position and a role NFL teams covet. He put together a dominant senior year for American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla., and it resulted in him finishing as the No. 2 defensive tackle in the 2018 class. With 105 total tackles, 31 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks, Silvera was equally adept as a run stuffer and pass rusher. He even got to show off his athleticism during the state championship game when he returned a fumble 60 yards for a touchdown.
— Nesta (Jade) Silvera (@NJS_ERA) December 24, 2017
In defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s 4-3 defense, Silvera will especially get a chance to showcase his ability as a pass rusher. NFL teams want prospects who can let them create pressure without blitzing and having a player such as Silvera at defensive tackle can make it possible. Scouts could fall in love with his production during the next three or four years with the Hurricanes.
Most likely to become a team captain: Lorenzo Lingard
This class isn’t just special because of its talent. Miami fans have already fallen in love with some of the personalities on this team, whether its Jordan’s outgoing desire to be great, Blades’ desire to channel his late father’s legacy or 3-star fullback Realus George defending the Hurricanes’ honor at every turn.
Lingard possesses every trait a coach looks for in a leader. The tailback could wind up being the best player on the team while being arguably the hardest worker in this recruiting class. He may not be as outspoken as some of those classmates, but Lingard still quickly became one of the Hurricanes’ class ambassadors after he verbally committed last February.
Lingard can lead both by example and through his words. Any of the names mentioned — plus about a half dozen others — could wind up as a captain. The odds seem best for Lingard, though.
Honorable mentions: Jordan, Williams, Blades, George
Most likely to transition to a new position: Patrick Joyner
This is kind of cheating because Patrick Joyner, a 3-star weakside defensive end, already has begun transitioning to linebacker. The senior from South Dade High School in Homestead, Fla., spent his December official visit in the linebackers room with Diaz.
The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Joyner thrived at both defensive end and outside linebacker in high school. He recorded 16 sacks for South Dade while gathering 91 total tackles as a gap plugger. His frame means he could grow into a number of different roles.
Miami has quite a few other prospects who could make relatively small moves like Joyner’s. Gregory Rousseau, a 3-star weakside defensive end, could reasonably wind up at linebacker after spending his high school career primarily at safety. Cleveland Reed, a 4-star guard, has experience at center and may make the move out of roster necessity. Both Blades and fellow 4-star cornerback Gilbert Frierson could easily wind up at safety thanks to their sheer athletic ability.
Honorable mentions: Blades, Frierson, Reed, Rousseau
Most likely to improve while in college: Gregory Rousseau
Speaking of Rousseau, his relative inexperience at defensive end makes him ripe for improvement. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound defensive lineman had one of the strangest high school careers imaginable. Rousseau spent most of his career at free safety and wide receiver, where he earned all-state honors. The he more frequently played in the box as a senior at Champagnat Catholic School in Hialeah, Fla.
Rousseau’s unique skill set made for a unique stat line — 84 tackles, 13 1/2 tackles for a loss, 10 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble. He also grabbed 5 catches for 43 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Coach Mark Richt says Rousseau has already packed on about 20 pounds. As an early enrollee, he will be able to get a quick start with the Hurricanes. The way Richt is raving about Rousseau, it sounds like the defensive end could be a surprising factor in the lineup sooner rather than later.
Most likely to be labeled a freak: Gilbert Frierson
Miami’s incoming group of defensive backs is loaded with physical specimens and Frierson is probably the best example. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound cornerback from Coral Gables Senior High School thrived as a safety, has the flexibility to play cornerback and was one of the best return specialists in Florida as a senior. The 4-star prospect will only get more physically impressive this spring as he’s already enrolled, as well.
Frierson has insisted he’s a safety in the past, but the Hurricanes are particularly needy at cornerback right now, which means the defensive back will probably stick out on the edge for now. This is where his physical ability can stand out most. He’s a monster hitter and if he bulks up even more he might wind up looking like a linebacker playing corner.
Four-star cornerback Josh Jobe could have taken this honor — had he stuck with Miami. Frierson could be every bit the physical specimen to match the Alabama signee.
Honorable mentions: Lingard, Gurvan Hall, Mallory, Rousseau
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