Miami recruiting: What did we learn from spring evaluation period?
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6 takeaways from spring evaluation period
In the Class of 2018, Miami used the spring of 2017 to make its move. The Hurricanes put together their best class in a decade largely thanks to the work it did before most of the prospects began their senior years. Miami stacked commitments beginning in February, rode momentum into The Opening Finals in the summer and sealed up most of the class by the early signing period.
The Class of 2019 is playing out a bit differently, although the Hurricanes are still in good shape. Just because Miami doesn’t hold the nation’s No. 1 class — like it did around this time in 2017 — doesn’t mean the Hurricanes can’t once again put together one of the best in the country. Everything Miami did throughout the spring bodes well for a strong finish for the Hurricanes.
RELATED: 2019 Miami recruiting big board
Since the start of the year, Miami has locked up a handful of blue-chip commitments, found some potential under-the-radar stars and put in serious work with a few of its top targets. Even as the Hurricanes suffered a string of de-commitments, they rebounded to finish strong this spring. Need proof? Look no further than these key takeaways from the past few months:
Miami made its move for QB Michael Johnson Jr.
Miami positioned itself well for Michael Johnson Jr. early. The 4-star dual-threat quarterback from Sheldon High School in Eugene, Ore., took one of his first out-of-state visits with the Hurricanes in late March. If Oregon wasn’t going to keep Johnson home, Miami seemed like a safe bet to land the nation’s No. 5 dual-threat prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings.
The Hurricanes never seriously fell out of favor with Johnson, but as the spring dragged on, other schools did all they could to make up ground. Johnson officially visited Penn State, then lined up official visits with Florida State and N.C. State for the final week before the dead period. Miami, which initially hadn’t planned to host official visitors in the spring and fall, had to adjust. On Wednesday, Johnson arrived on campus for a three-day official visit with the Hurricanes.
— Michael Johnson Jr. (@m_johnsonjr1) June 20, 2018
The 6-foot-3, 192-pound quarterback could make a decision this week, and Miami made a power play to try sewing up Johnson’s commitment. Johnson would like to have a commitment by early July if possible. The Hurricanes managed to once again put themselves at the top of Johnson’s mind, which is critical. The Under Armour All-American is the only quarterback Miami is seriously targeting in the Class of 2019. A strong — and creative — spring may land the Hurricanes their most important commitment of the cycle.
Miami is uncovering gems — it hopes
Miami reeled in commitment after commitment in the last month. It began with Damarius Good, a 3-star athlete from Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Fla., who committed May 30. The 6-foot, 183-pound back was basically unknown when the Hurricanes delivered his fourth offer May 11. As a running back and quarterback in Lake Brantley’s triple option, Good didn’t get to showcase all he can do. Still, Miami fell in love with his physical gifts enough to take his commitment.
Good’s commitment was only the first in a string of pledges from 3-star prospects. Jason Munoz, a 3-star strongside defensive end, committed to the Hurricanes on June 2, the same day he picked up an offer from the hometown team. Jarvis Brownlee, a 3-star cornerback, followed suit with a pledge June 7. All three players were unranked in the 247Sports composite rankings until right around the time they committed.
There were much flashier commitments throughout the spring — including a couple for Miami — but the strength of the Hurricanes’ 2019 class largely will hinge on these more under-the-radar prospects. Can Good become the cornerback Miami hopes he can be? Will Munoz bounce back from an injury-plagued season to turn heads as a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.? Might other schools regret not offering Brownlee earlier if he turns his potential into results this fall for Miami Carol City Senior High School in Miami Gardens, Fla.? The Hurricanes could come away with three gems, all of whom could rise in the rankings in the coming months.
Miami builds another local pipeline
The spring still did yield a handful of blue-chip commitments for Miami, the most notable of which came from one high school. The 2019 class at Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School in Hollywood, Fla., is loaded, and the Hurricanes now have commitments from three of their four top-ranked players.
Cameron Williams, a 3-star weakside defensive end, kicked off the pipeline by committing Jan. 20, but Miami truly built it up this spring. Four-star safety Keontra Smith committed May 13. Then 4-star athlete Te’Cory Couch followed his friend by pledging June 16. At this point, Smith and Couch, who projects as a cornerback, are the two cornerstones of the Hurricanes secondary this cycle.
Miami hopes its work at Chaminade-Madonna could help it finish up its wide receivers class, too. John Dunmore is the top uncommitted receiver in South Florida, and the Hurricanes finally offered May 2. The 4-star wide receiver then attended the invite-only Miami Nights event June 16. The Hurricanes could wind up with the four best players from a state champion if Chaminade-Madonna lives up to its potential.
Miami is doing all it can to land CB Tyrique Stevenson
It would be foolish to peg Tyrique Stevenson as a lock — or even a heavy lean — to Miami. Prospects such as Stevenson, considered the No. 78 overall prospect for 2019, tend to weigh all their options. The 4-star cornerback has taken multiday visits to Georgia. He hears from Auburn all the time. He even still calls Florida, to which he was once committed, his dream school.
If Miami loses out to one of these teams, though, it won’t be for lack of trying. All hands are on deck to recruit the senior from Miami Southridge High School. Stevenson has visited Coral Gables, Fla., more times than he can count. He was on campus at least five times during the evaluation period, whether it was just to spend time around some of his friends who play for the Hurricanes or to talk with coaches at the practice fields.
But Stevenson expects his recruitment to just about go the distance. The elite defensive back will early enroll and make his decision just a few days before the early signing period. The dozens of visits Stevenson already has taken mean a lot. But if Stevenson picks the Bulldogs, for example, it won’t be because Miami didn’t recruit him right.
Mark Richt Football Camps’ 7-on-7 tournaments are smart
Camp season can be a mixed bag, as best evidenced by the final Mark Richt Football Camps of the year. The Hurricanes wrapped up camp season by hosting three straight days of individual camps, and the level of competition paled in comparison to what Miami had on campus earlier in the month.
The 7-on-7 tournaments, which headlined the first couple weekends of Mark Richt Camps, were a success. The Hurricanes hosted just about every notable powerhouse from the Miami metropolitan area throughout the month. Miami Southridge High School competed twice. St. Thomas Aquinas High School made the short trip with more than a dozen Division I prospects. The Hurricanes landed June commitments from prospects from Miami’s Christopher Columbus High School and Miami Carol City Senior High School of Miami Gardens, Fla. Both schools camped throughout the month.
Southridge wins the 7-on-7 tournament at the first Mark Richt Football Camp of the summer. pic.twitter.com/H2Wabzhy2q
— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) June 2, 2018
The level of competition was high, which meant the Hurricanes could evaluate more than just football ability. Fights almost broke out. Prospects were asked to make clutch plays. More was on the line every weekend than just an individual rep for a random drill. It also made the Richt Camps an appealing destination for spectators. Major targets such as Stevenson, Brownlee, Marcus Fleming and Elijah Roberts all made their way to campus even on days when they weren’t competing. The camps made Miami the place to be all June.
Miami is becoming a factor nationally
Recruiting under Richt so far has been defined by the Hurricanes’ success in the Miami metro area. Recruiting the home turf is a priority for the coach, and Miami was unparalleled at home in the Class of 2018. As Richt is becoming more comfortable at his alma mater, the coach seems ready to branch out farther.
Miami hosted three official visitors throughout the spring. Two came from out-of-state, as the Hurricanes hosted both Johnson and 4-star weakside defensive end Kevin Harris. Even the third — 4-star St. Thomas Aquinas safety Jordan Battle — the Hurricanes are locked in a national battle with Ohio State to land. The heart of Miami’s roster will always run through Florida, but Richt seriously branched out early in the cycle.
— Kevin G. Harris II (@kevin_harris2) April 19, 2018
These weren’t only the official visitors who came from far away to check out the Hurricanes. Miami snuck 5-star guard Kardell Thomas, an LSU commit from Louisiana, to campus for an unofficial visit June 15. A day later, 3-star tackle Jeremy James came down from Georgia to camp and attend Miami Nights. To take the next step, the Hurricanes must win some national recruiting battles. This spring, they proved they won’t shy from them.
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