David Wilson/DieHards
Leonard Manuel de-committed from Miami on Tuesday on the heels of a visit to Georgia.

Miami recruiting: Hurricanes take another hit as 5-star WR de-commits

David Wilson

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.

Elite 2020 WR Leonard Manuel de-commits from Miami

The bad news keeps coming for Miami on the recruiting trail. The latest: Leonard Manuel, a 5-star wide receiver in the Class of 2020, backed off his commitment to the Hurricanes less than six months after initially pledging.

The senior from Vanguard High School in Ocala, Fla., announced his decision via Twitter early Tuesday.

Manuel’s de-commitment is a bit different than some of Miami’s other recent hits, as the Hurricanes were still seriously recruiting the 6-foot-5, 195-pound pass catcher. Still, Manuel joins 4-star wide receiver Brieon Fuller, 3-star tackle Brandon Cunningham and 3-star outside linebacker Diamante Howard — all Class of 2019 prospects — as de-commitments from Miami in the last month.

Even though Manuel is the furthest off, his decision stings the most. Ranked No. 2 at his position in the Class of 2020 by 247Sports.com, Manuel committed to the Hurricanes in November before recruiting really ramped up for 2020 prospects. Since the start of 2018, Manuel has visited Florida State, Florida, Georgia and Southern California. His only trip to Coral Gables, Fla., was an informal visit to hang out with Miami quarterback N’Kosi Perry, who played with Manuel at Vanguard. He initially hoped to be at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday for the Hurricanes spring game, but instead visited Athens, Ga., while in Atlanta for an AAU basketball tournament.

Manuel, who also plays some defensive end, told Rivals.com’s Rob Cassidy he will continue to consider the Hurricanes, along with Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Texas, Penn State, Nebraska, Florida State and Florida. This is Manuel’s second de-commitment of the cycle, as he was briefly committed to the Volunteers in the summer. The timing of his announcement also suggests the Bulldogs are now at least a slight leader.

While losing any prospect of Manuel’s caliber hurts, wide receiver is the one place Miami is best equipped to handle a defection in 2020. Manuel’s decision still leaves the Hurricanes with two blue-chip pledges at the position in 4-star Marietta (Ga.) wide receiver Jermaine Burton and 4-star athlete Marc Britt of Champagnat Catholic School in Hialeah, Fla. The former visited Miami for the first time March 12 and continues to insist he’s firm in his pledge. The latter, who also could play free safety, is a frequent visitor for the Hurricanes.

Manuel’s de-commitment still leaves Miami with the No. 1-ranked 2020 class, according to 247Sports. The Hurricanes will now have to more seriously ramp up their wide receiver recruiting, either in 2019 or 2020. No 2020 wideout is a clear top target to be Manuel’s replacement. Miami is also left searching a bit in 2019 after 5-star wide receiver Frank Ladson committed to Clemson on Saturday. The Hurricanes could make up for losing Manuel by pushing for a new target in 2019.

Chez Mellusi-Miami recruiting-Clemson recruiting
Chez Mellusi (left) committed to Clemson a week after the Tigers offered. (Chez Mellusi/Twitter)

Naples (Fla.) RB Chez Mellusi picks Clemson over Miami

Recruiting running backs has been a strength for Miami ever since coach Mark Richt arrived before the 2016 season. The Class of 2019 is shaping up to be more of the same. The Hurricanes have been significantly connected to about half a dozen blue-chip running backs already this cycle after landing two of the top 10 players at the position in the Class of 2018.

Miami’s list of options took a bit of a hit Monday, though, as Chez Mellusi committed to Clemson. The 4-star running back from Naples (Fla.) High School announced his pledge exactly a week after Clemson offered April 9.

While the Hurricanes never seemed to be the favorite for Mellusi, the halfback just named Miami to his top 3 along with Clemson and Notre Dame. The 6-foot, 185-pound tailback also had expressed interest in South Carolina.

“Miami was probably my favorite school going in to the Clemson visit,” Mellusi told 247Sports’ Anna Hickey, “but it came down to leaving home, joining a new family, creating my own thing and being my own person.”

Mellusi’s commitment to Clemson hurts the Fighting Irish far more than it does the Hurricanes, but this still leaves Miami with one fewer player to seriously target to join 3-star prospect Marcus Crowley of Jacksonville’s Trinity Christian Academy in the 2019 class.

The top target is Trey Sanders, although landing the 5-star running back from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., won’t be easy. Florida State, Florida, Alabama and Georgia all want the 6-1, 220-pound halfback, who originally hails from Port St. Joe, Fla. Once committed to the Crimson Tide, Sanders already has visited the Hurricanes twice in 2018, although he’s now visited the Gators on back-to-back weekends.

Kenny McIntosh is probably the safer bet to eventually join Miami’s 2019 class. The 4-star running back from NSU University School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is the younger brother of former Hurricanes defensive lineman RJ McIntosh. He’s visited Coral Gables, Fla., twice in 2018 and plans to commit this summer. The 6-1, 205-pound halfback is also high on Clemson, Notre Dame, Alabama and Ohio State, among others.

Daniel Carter is also a quality option if something falls through or the Hurricanes opt to take a bigger haul at the position. The 4-star running back from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale still has a wide-open recruitment and the Hurricanes are pitching him as hard as anyone. The 5-11, 205-pound halfback attended Miami’s junior day March 24. Michigan and Ohio State both could be options for the Under Armour All-American, too.

The safest bet right now is — and always was — for the Hurricanes to land McIntosh with Carter as a good secondary option. That might not be all, though. Miami is also the presumed favorite for 4-star athlete Mark-Antony Richards, who plays running back and cornerback for Wellington (Fla.) High School and wants to play offense in college. The 6-1, 195-pound senior is the younger brother of star Hurricanes wide receiver Ahmmon Richards, but he also likes Oregon, Florida, Auburn and Georgia.

Kenny Logan, a 3-star athlete, would provide a similar dimension. The 6-foot, 180-pound senior plays running back, wide receiver and free safety for Pedro Menendez High School in St. Augustine, Fla., and has the Hurricanes atop his list after attending junior day.

Renardo Green-Miami recruiting-Florida State recruiting
Renardo Green committed to Florida State on Monday immediately after the Seminoles offered. (David Wilson/DieHards)

In-state CB option Renardo Green commits to Florida State

Running back wasn’t the only position in the 2019 cycle where Miami lost a bit of depth on its board. Renardo Green, a potential in-state cornerback target, committed to Seminoles on Monday shortly after Florida State offered.

The 3-star cornerback wasn’t near the top of the Hurricanes’ list of targets in the secondary for 2019, but he could have become a serious option if Miami was to miss on other priority targets. The 5-11, 170-pound defensive back from Wekiva High School in Apopka, Fla., visited for the Hurricanes junior day in March. While he’s a bit undersized, Green makes up for it with the physicality Miami likes. His pursuit skills also make him capable of sliding to safety.

Green, who also plays wide receiver, had been high on the Hurricanes, Florida and Kentucky before committing. It never seemed one program was blowing Green away, though, and when his “dream school” offered, he committed.

“Florida State has been my dream school since I’ve been little,” Green told 247Sports’ Chris Nee. “I always said if I had a chance to go to Florida State, that if they offered me, then I was going to go.”

Even though Green probably wasn’t a take for Miami, his commitment to the Seminoles alters the Hurricanes board.

Chris Steele remains the most high-profile option, but until the 5-star cornerback from St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif., visits, it’s tough to know exactly how serious a contender Miami is. The 6-1, 176-pound defensive back continues to insist the Hurricanes will get a visit, but there’s a long list of potential suitors in the Steele’s top 14, including Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Oklahoma, California, Southern California, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Penn State. The former UCLA commit officially visited the Sooners this weekend and is set to officially visit LSU this coming weekend. He has a tentative official scheduled with the Gators for September, too, and a decision date planned for July 7.

With Steele’s situation still unclear, 4-star cornerback Tyrique Stevenson seems to be the top target now. The 6-foot, 190-pound defensive back, who recently transferred to Miami Southridge High School, visited for junior day, but the Hurricanes have some major powers, including Clemson and Alabama, to fend off. The one-time Florida commit also visited Florida State on March 26.

Jaden Davis also will continue to be an option, although he has some of the same limitations as Green. Still, the 4-star cornerback from St. Thomas Aquinas has already committed to play in the Under Armour All-America Game and possesses more polished coverage skills. The 5-11, 170-pound defensive back took an official visit to Oklahoma this weekend and is set to take an official with Penn State this coming weekend. The senior is also high on Clemson and Ohio State, but he’s expressed the most sustained interest in Miami and Florida throughout his recruitment. He visited the Hurricanes for junior day and plans to commit July 18.

Miami will probably turn up the pressure on John Dixon, too. The 4-star cornerback from Chamberlain High School in Tampa, Fla., visited for junior day about a month after adding an offer. The 5-11, 170-pound defensive back has a pretty open recruitment. Georgia, South Carolina and Ohio State are all in the picture for the senior, who also plays wide receiver.

Like at running back, cornerback is a spot which will have some athletes involved, as well. A commitment from Richards would give Miami some flexibility, as would adding Josh Sanguinetti. The 4-star athlete from NSU University plays both wide receiver and cornerback, but projects best on defense with a 6-2, 170-pound frame. Both Sanguinetti and Richards have visited in 2019. Stanford is the Hurricanes’ toughest competition for Sanguinetti.

The Hurricanes also cracked Jaylin Simpson‘s top 5 in November after hosting the 4-star athlete for an unofficial visit in July. The 5-11, 160-pound senior plays both wide receiver and cornerback for Frederica Academy in St. Simons, Ga. Miami seems to be a major long shot with Clemson, Auburn, Georgia and Ohio State involved.

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