On Wednesday, about half of the Miami recruiting class will be locked in place. The early signing period is on the horizon and at least 15 members of the Hurricanes’ Class of 2018 are expected to sign their national letters of intent. About a dozen of those plan to enroll early.
Getting some important signatures will let Miami move on to additional priorities before National Signing Day in February. This month’s prediction includes one new commitment the Hurricanes picked up during the past month and features a couple new targets. It also has Miami losing out on one of its longest-tenured defensive backs. The Hurricanes will make rounding out the defensive line and solidifying their secondary down the stretch a priority.
DL (5): 4-star Nesta Silvera (Plantation, Fla.), 4-star Andrew Chatfield (Plantation), 3-star Daniel Carson (Independence, Mo.), 3-star Gregory Rousseau (Hialeah, Fla.), 3-star Patrick Joyner (Homestead, Fla.)
Miami has three defensive linemen committed who won’t waver between now and National Signing Day. Gregory Rousseau and Patrick Joyner, the 3-star weakside defensive ends, plan to sign Wednesday. Rousseau and Joyner, who committed earlier this month, will enroll early. Nesta Silvera, a 4-star defensive tackle, will hold off and officially visit the Hurricanes in January with teammates Andrew Chatfield and Tyson Campbell.
— 🎱Patrick Joyner Jr. (@JoynerPatrick) December 4, 2017
Chatfield seems like the most logical next addition. The 4-star weakside defensive end visited Miami about half a dozen times throughout the fall, including a number of trips before the Hurricanes extended an offer. He once seemed like a Florida lean, but given the Gators’ coaching change and Miami’s new interest, the Hurricanes are now the favorite. Like Rousseau and Joyner, Chatfield also could wind up at outside linebacker.
The last defensive tackle in the class remains a bit murkier to project. Jared Goldwire, a 3-star junior college defensive tackle, is committed to Louisville and will sign Wednesday, although he did take an official visit to Miami for the Hurricanes’ win against then-No. 3 Notre Dame. Still, the defensive lineman doesn’t do interviews, so there’s not enough information there to project a flip.
Miami can quickly move its focus to Daniel Carson. The 3-star strongside defensive end from William Chrisman High School in Independence, Mo., took an official visit to Coral Gables this month. Defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski’s experience at Missouri should help here if Oklahoma or Ohio State push hard for Carson.
Misses: Micah Parsons, Michael Thompson, Tyler Friday, Trevor Trout, Jared Goldwire
LB (0): None
Listing the Hurricanes without a linebacker here doesn’t tell the whole story. Rousseau, Joyner and Chatfield are all hybrid pass rushers, and any of the three could wind up at outside linebacker. Chatfield primarily played the position for American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla., this season and coach Patrick Surtain said Chatfield’s versatility is part of what drew Miami’s interest. Rousseau mostly has been a free safety and wide receiver during his career, so he has the coverage ability needed. And Joyner, who played the most defensive end of the bunch this year, is the one who most cleanly projects as a linebacker at the next level.
My general hunch here is either Rousseau or Joyner wind up playing linebacker. Chatfield is a college-ready pass rusher who can immediately take on a rotational role with defensive linemen Chad Thomas and Trent Harris graduating. With such a young group of proven linebackers returning, the Hurricanes can redshirt Rousseau and Joyner as they develop.
Miami’s most-likely option for a true linebacker in this class is finding another preferred walk-on. Reggie James has a preferred walk-on offer from the Hurricanes, and the unranked athlete, who is both a tight end and an edge rusher, could give Miami some more depth without costing a scholarship. The Hurricanes also have kept an eye on James Miller, a 3-star weakside defensive end who actually projects as an inside linebacker, although Miami hasn’t yet offered the in-state prospect.
DB (5): 4-star Al Blades Jr. (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 4-star Gurvan Hall (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), 4-star Gilbert Frierson (Coral Gables, Fla.), 4-star D.J. Ivey (Homestead, Fla.), 3-star Nigel Bethel (Miami)
The Tyson Campbell question is what will ultimately determine the strength of this class. The 5-star cornerback is the Hurricanes’ best remaining chance at a 5-star splash late in the cycle. Miami has as good a shot as anyone to land him, and if he visits during the final weekend before National Signing Day, as Surtain expects, then it would seem to bode well for the Hurricanes. At this point, though, I don’t see Campbell leaning in any particular direction, and with Alabama and Ohio State firmly in the mix, I don’t see Miami as having a greater than 50 percent shot at Campbell. I think the Hurricanes are the favorite, though, so I could easily change my mind again here next month. The official visits probably will determine everything.
One influencing factor could be Josh Jobe. The 4-star cornerback flipped to the Crimson Tide on Saturday, which could make Campbell less of a priority for Alabama. Safety Gurvan Hall and cornerback Gilbert Frierson were considered flip threats as well, but there’s not enough time before they early enroll. The 4-star defensive backs will stick and be on campus by January with 4-star cornerback D.J. Ivey. Cornerback Al Blades Jr. plans to take official visits to Michigan and Tennessee in January, although I don’t see him going anywhere, either.
For now, I have Nigel Bethel rounding out the class. The 3-star cornerback was briefly committed to Florida before reopening his recruitment. The athlete will take an official visit in January and seems to be a perfect fallback plan if Miami misses on Campbell. The Hurricanes should be able to beat out No. 10 Central Florida if they push, while 3-star safety John Huggins remains another potential backup plan.
Misses: Patrick Surtain Jr., Tyson Campbell, Josh Jobe, Jamien Sherwood, John Huggins
Specialists (2): 3-star Bubba Baxa (Pasadena, Texas), unranked Clay James (Cocoa, Fla.)
With Michael Badgley graduating, Miami needs a new kicker, and Bubba Baxa should be able to fill the void. The 3-star kicker wasn’t quite as good on field goals as he had hoped, but he has a huge leg. The Hurricanes’ top priority is finding someone who can boom touchbacks, and Baxa’s greatest strength is as a kickoff specialist. He has also hit field goals of 60 yards during practice.
Clay James, an unranked long snapper, is the only other specialist in this class. He’s coming in as a preferred walk-on and should receive a scholarship once long snapper Jordan Butler graduates. James is on track to be the starting long snapper by his redshirt freshman year.
The only remaining question is whether Miami will try to scoop up a walk-on punter down the stretch. Punter Zach Feagles struggled as a freshman this season. The Hurricanes can’t afford to spend another scholarship on a punter, so Feagles will get a shot to improve next season.
Misses: Evan McPherson