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Mark Richt and Miami continue to expand their list of top secondary targets in the Class of 2019.

Miami recruiting: Hurricanes crack top 5 for 4-star ATH Jaylin Simpson

David Wilson

Miami is on its way to one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, and 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 Monday through Friday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Miami recruiting news.

Miami makes top 5 for rising 4-star ATH Jaylin Simpson

Jaylin Simpson hadn’t been connected much to Miami since attending Paradise Camp during July in Coral Gables, Fla. The 4-star athlete still has the Hurricanes high on his list though — in the top 5, in fact.

The junior from Frederica Academy in Saint Simons Island, Ga., released an initial top 5 list Thursday, and Miami is in his top group.

The 5-foot-11, 160-pound athlete plays both cornerback and wide receiver for Frederica, although he seems to be a better fit for the defensive side of the ball in Florida. The Hurricanes have been picky about the defensive backs to target in the Class of 2019 with a loaded group of priority targets apparently interested. Simpson fits right in alongside 5-star athlete Josh Sanguinetti, 4-star athlete Mark Richards and 4-star cornerback Jaden Davis as standout options for Miami. Simpson is considered the nation’s No. 16 athlete by the 247Sports composite rankings and the No. 195 player overall.

The competition will be fierce for Simpson. The athlete is also considering Florida State, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State — a group of competitors which have become familiar for the Hurricanes while targeting defensive backs.

Despite being out of state, Simpson has been a quiet priority for the No. 2 Hurricanes in the next recruiting cycle. Special teams coordinator Todd Hartley stopped in to see Simpson during a trip through Georgia in May.

Avantae Williams-Miami recruiting-Miami football
Avantae Williams was the first Miami commit in the Class of 2020. (IMG Academy/courtesy)

Avantae Williams learns value of patience at IMG Academy

Success arrived particularly early for Avantae Williams. The 4-star athlete received his first scholarship offer from Florida when he was still in middle school and committed to Miami in February when he was still a freshman at Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Fla.

But before he ever actually suited up in a real game for Mainland – he played his freshman season at DeLand (Fla.) High School – Williams made another move, this time to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Suddenly, one of the nation’s best prospects in the Class of 2020 was dealing with adversity.

Right away, the sophomore knew he was going to have to deal with some homesickness and at IMG he wasn’t going to have some easy path to a major role. Playing on a team with literally dozens of Division I prospects, Williams was basically just depth with incredible promise at strong safety. He bounced back and forth between the Ascenders’ top-ranked national team and their new, secondary varsity team.

“I’m just getting better,” Williams told DieHards. “I’m just being patient and getting better.”

The 6-1, 175-pound safety played in four games for the national team, recording 16 tackles and breaking up a pass during his limited action. Otherwise, he was starring for the varsity team with crunching hits and a knack for playmaking.

At IMG, though, the biggest growth comes basically every day but Friday, particularly with Williams matching up against lesser competition on the varsity team. It’s during practice, instead, when Williams gets a chance to work with some of the nation’s other best defensive backs and train under coaches with professional experience. He’s the No. 1 athlete in the country primarily because of his promise and, in his mind, there’s nowhere better to develop than in Bradenton.

“I worked with the best team in the nation,” Williams said. “Practice is where I got better at the most.”

While Williams didn’t get to visit Hard Rock Stadium for a game this season because of IMG’s busy schedule, he remains a solid member of the Hurricanes’ top-ranked 2020 class. He’s good friends with fellow Miami commit Leonard Manuel and although Williams didn’t know the 4-star wide receiver was planning to commit earlier this month, the duo is already out actively recruiting other sophomores.

The Hurricanes appear to be in good position already with 4-star strongside defensive end Tre’Von Riggins, another Ascender, and 4-star running back Don Chaney Jr. of Miami’s Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. Williams also said he’s working on 4-star cornerback Sheridan Jones of Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach, Va., even though the cornerback doesn’t yet have an offer from the Hurricanes.

“I think we will,” Williams said when asked if he thought Miami could finish with the top-ranked class.

Antonio Alfano includes Miami in top 12

This is probably not super meaningful, but it’s still worth noting the Hurricanes’ inclusion in Antonio Alfano’s top 12. Alfano is a 5-star prospect in the Class of 2019, and is considered the nation’s No. 2 strongside defensive end and No. 23 player overall.

Penn State and the Buckeyes appear to be the favorites here, but its still noteworthy Alfano is considering Miami despite not yet visiting the Hurricanes. The 6-5, 280-pound junior from Rahway (N.J.) High School also noted he plans to make a decision soon, which of course doesn’t bode well for a school he hasn’t visited.

This is, however, a good sign that Miami is working its way back into New Jersey, a place where it had a strong recruiting foothold during coach Al Golden’s tenure. The Hurricanes are in the top 5 for Tyler Friday, a 4-star defensive tackle in the Class of 2018, and are now getting at least some consideration from another of the state’s top defensive linemen.

Alfano’s top 12 is loaded with perennial contenders, which fits the criteria he’s looking for. Miami will have to beat out the Seminoles, Gators, Bulldogs, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee and Rutgers, plus Ohio State and the Nittany Lions. Of that list, only the Scarlet Knights haven’t sniffed the Top 25 during the past few seasons. Alfano told Scout’s Brian Dohn playing for a nationally relevant team is a top priority.

“I don’t want to be part of a team that’s rebuilding and who are years away from being a top 25 caliber team,” Alfano said. “I want to be added to a team that’s already there.”

The Hurricanes fit the bill, which is why they can once again make random top lists for prospects like Alfano.

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