Miami recruiting: Elite DE Kevin Harris heads on final visit before decision
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 his daily notebooks here at 6:30 p.m. ET from Sunday through Thursday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Miami recruiting news.
DE Kevin Harris takes last visit to LSU before May 1 decision
Miami is less than a week away from finding out the fate for one of their top defensive targets in the Class of 2019, and it seems a final decision has not yet been made. Kevin Harris, a 4-star weakside defensive end from Georgia, is set to take his second official visit — and final visit of any kind — to LSU this weekend before a planned commitment on Tuesday.
The Tigers aren’t exactly getting a huge advantage from making the final impression, though. In the final 10 days before announcing a decision, Harris will have visited all three of his finalists.
— Kevin G. Harris II (@kevin_harris2) April 13, 2018
Harris began his final tour of visits Friday, when he kicked off a three-day official visit in Coral Gables, Fla. The visit was Harris’ first to Miami after the Hurricanes offered March 8. On his way back to Georgia, Harris stopped in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to unofficially visit Alabama for the second time in April. On Friday, Harris will head to Baton Rouge, La., to visit LSU for the first time since junior day March 17. All three schools have reason to feel somewhat good about landing the 6-foot-4, 218-pound edge rusher, although the 247Sports Crystal Ball reads 69 percent in favor of the Crimson Tide.
The Tigers’ unique appeal lies in Harris’ family ties to Louisiana. The defensive end’s mother was born in New Orleans. His father was born in Baton Rouge. His sister and most of his cousins live in the state.
“It was great seeing family, eating good food,” Harris told SEC Country’s Sam Spiegelman after his last visit. “LSU was like a dream school for me growing up, watching them all the time. It was a great opportunity seeing what it was actually like at LSU.”
Alabama, of course, speaks for itself. The Crimson Tide offered Harris on March 9 as national attention piled up for the defensive lineman from Grayson High School in Loganville. Harris, who landed an invitation to The Opening Finals earlier this month, is up to No. 86 overall in the 247Sports composite rankings for 2019 and said Alabama views him as a priority.
RELATED: 2019 Miami recruiting big board
Before he first visited the Crimson Tide in early April, Harris said the Tigers led. He left Alabama with a deadlock.
“It’s kind of even now,” Harris told SEC Country’s Chris Kirschner after the visit. “I wasn’t really expecting what I saw at Alabama, but LSU did have an edge because it was the only school I visited. I feel like Alabama is a school that can give me the best opportunity to accomplish what I want to accomplish in football and life.”
And then there are the Hurricanes. Harris has gone silent since spending the weekend in Miami. By all accounts, the visit showed the senior everything he wanted to see and he already had a strong relationship with defensive line coach Jess Simpson.
The Hurricanes also had the added bonus of having Harris on campus during an alumni weekend, meaning the elite prospect got to spend time around about 300 former Miami players.
Harris’ relationship with Simpson is the crux of the Hurricanes’ pitch. Grayson coach Christian Hunnicutt served as Simpson’s offensive coordinator when Simpson was coach at Buford (Ga.) High School. Hunnicutt vouches for Harris, but more importantly he understands how similar the two are.
“The one thing they have in common is Jess is a driven coach and Kevin is a driven player, so that’s an easy match,” Hunnicutt told DieHards. “Jess Simpson has very few peers in regards to defensive line coaching and understanding all the intricacies of defensive line play.”
Miami is desperate to land defensive ends this cycle after failing to sign a blue-chip prospect at the position in the Class of 2018. The Hurricanes could lose both starters at the position after this coming season. Playing time will be up for grabs and Harris is capable of contributing from Day 1.
Miami’s big pitch has been made. Coaches may have one final chance to squeeze in a visit to Harris’ school before he announces his decision Tuesday. Either way, Simpson has given the Hurricanes a shot to land one of the best in nation.
“Jess has a passion for defensive line play and he has a passion for coaching,” Hunnicutt said. “He has a passion for mentoring young men toward a purposeful, self-controlled lifestyle, so obviously anybody would feel comfortable entrusting their most prized possession, which is their child, to Jess.”
Miami makes top 8 for former DE commit Derick Hunter
The rocky recruitment of Derick Hunter took a bit of additional clarity Wednesday. The 4-star strongside defensive end from Dunbar High School in Fort Myers, Fla., has a top 8. The list didn’t include surprises, but did add a bit of confirmation that schools he’s frequently mentioned are all still in the mix.
Miami, to which Hunter was once committed, was one of the schools potentially on the outside. A visit to campus March 31 apparently did enough to keep the Hurricanes in the mix, though. The 6-6, 270-pound defensive end included Miami along with Florida State, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Penn State.
Gotta do what’s best for me and my family wish you was here to celebrate with me momma #happybirthday @SWiltfong247 @HamiltonESPN @TomVH @foymeetsworld @Rivals_Singer @RivalsWoody @Andrew_Ivins @Blake_Alderman pic.twitter.com/gGhraVnUUa
— Rambo hunter. jr (@hunterderick31) April 25, 2018
Clemson and the Aggies were other moderate surprises on the list. Hunter just visited Clemson for the first time April 20 after picking up an offer March 26. Texas A&M hasn’t been connected much to Hunter either, but coach Jimbo Fisher has ties in Florida from his time with the Seminoles. Oregon was the closest thing to a surprise exclusion. The end has mentioned the Ducks as a suitor in the past.
While Hunter’s recruitment remains open, he said recently the Bulldogs were a slight leader on the Gators. Hunter also visited Florida State on Feb. 17, and hopes to visit the Volunteers and Nittany Lions in the near future.
Miami offers another Georgia defensive prospect
Miami continues to make its Georgia roots felt on the recruiting trail by offering a third player from the state, Aaron Beasley, on Wednesday.
The 3-star safety from Heard County High School in Franklin tweeted out news of the offer after Miami reached out.
Blessed to receive my 23rd offer from The University of Miami! pic.twitter.com/Vwbzi7ZZMd
— Aaron Beasley (@deuceofficial2) April 25, 2018
The Hurricanes haven’t yet landed a defensive back in 2019, although they have no shortage of options. Miami has done a particularly good job of cultivating depth on the safety board, positioning itself as a potential favorite to land 3-star athletes Cornelius Nunn and Kenny Logan — both of whom project as safeties — should other options not pan out. Beasley could be another option in the same mold.
Miami is the 23rd school to offer the 6-1, 216-pound defensive back, who has a lengthy list of early favorites. Beasley, who primarily plays running back for Heard County, also claims offers from Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Baylor, Indiana, Georgia Tech, Duke and Florida State.
The Hurricanes also added another tackle to their board for the Class of 2020 for the second time this week. Miami extended its latest offer Thursday to Chad Lindberg, a 4-star tackle from Clear Creek High School in League City, Texas.
— Chad (@ChadLindberg78) April 26, 2018
Lindberg is already one of the most coveted offensive linemen in the 2020 class, sitting at No. 72 overall in the 247Sports.com rankings. The 6-6, 305-pound lineman holds more than a dozen offers with Virginia Tech, Boston College, Georgia, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas Christian, Oklahoma State, Texas, Baylor, Utah, Colorado and Memphis all involved. His recruitment is in an early enough stage to still be open.
Elite 2020 defensive back commit Henry Gray adds major in-state offer
When Henry Gray committed to Miami on March 31, part of the reasoning, the 4-star cornerback said, was because the Hurricanes were far and away his biggest offer yet.
He may have a new No. 2.
Gray, who recently transferred from Miramar (Fla.) High School to Miami Central High School, added an offer from Florida State on Wednesday.
Blessed to receive my 16th offer from THE Florida State University 🍢🍢🍢 #Tribe20 @1coachwhite @Andrew_Ivins @CoachDgip @paragon52 @ChadSimmons_ @Th3LAB_ @SabbathJoseph @sfecoach @JerryRecruiting @Corey_Bender @ZachBlostein247 @Noles247 @larryblustein @HarlonBarnett pic.twitter.com/LFmiGK1MDv
— Henry Gray (@D1bound_zay2121) April 26, 2018
The Seminoles are the third high-profile program to offer the 6-1, 170-pound defensive back since he pledged to the Hurricanes, joining Arkansas and Central Florida. Gray, who started at free safety for Miramar as a sophomore in 2017, already held offers from Louisville, Boston College, Syracuse, Florida Atlantic, South Florida, Kentucky and Baylor.
The 247Sports rankings consider Gray the No. 71 overall player in the 2020 class. He most recently visited Miami for its spring game April 14.
He isn’t the only 2020 Hurricanes pledge drawing new interest with spring football under way in Florida. Samuel Anaele, a 4-star strongside defensive end from Doral (Fla.) Academy Preparatory School, added an offer from Louisville on Thursday.
Congrats to Doral Academy sophomore DE Samuel Anaele @Ebukasammie on his offer from Louisville today. #TAI #Mind #Body #Discipline #FreeEducation #PerfectTiming #TrenchSetters #BirdGang pic.twitter.com/ZEoEBUFUjc
— Michael Tunsil (@coachtunsil) April 26, 2018
The 6-4, 230-pound defensive end committed to Miami on Jan. 15 and also most recently visited for the spring game. The native of Nigeria remains locked in with the Hurricanes even as Power 5 schools continue to offer.
Anaele now holds double-digit offers with Florida State, North Carolina State, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Michigan, Oregon and Florida Atlantic making up the rest of the group.
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