It really seems as if new Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt has taken a liking to the linebackers former coach Al Golden had committed.
He's made them a priority, already having some form of contact with commit Shaquille Quarterman and former commit Zach McCloud, who decommitted after the Al Golden firing but is close to jumping back into the class. Richt also watched Jacksonville Raines linebacker and UM commit Michael Pinckney play in his final high school game, a 43-23 defeat at the hands of now four-time Class 4A state champion Booker T. Washington.
Pinckney was a monster and all over the field. He finished the night with seven tackles (four solo), three for loss, an interception, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Again, he was extremely impressive on the biggest stage at state in Orlando.
Richt, who was at the Citrus Bowl with running backs coach and former Booker T. coach Tim "Ice" Harris, as well as linebackers coach Hurlie Brown, had to have come away impressed.
"It's a great honor," said Pinckney of having Richt come out to watch him so early in his tenure. "That means they really care about me. That's why I committed -- because I know they care about me -- and I have a chance to do some great things in that program."
Richt is scheduled for an in-home visit with Pinckney on Monday.
What are Pinckney's thoughts on the Richt hiring?
"It's a great hire. He's a great coach," says Pinckney, who is set to be an early enrollee. "I feel like he can come in and do some great things for the University of Miami. I'm ready to play for him. I'm ready to get down there in January."
Pinckney played with a UM headband under his helmet -- one he says he wears for every game.
"It's pride. It's U pride," said Pinckney. "I've been a Cane since who knows when."
[[Check out this awesome picture of him coming out of the tunnel before the game.]]
Richt spent a portion of the game sitting in the stands and he just so happened to have a seat next to another linebacker commit in Quarterman.
Thanks to coordinator of on-campus recruiting Jorge Baez for capturing this moment with Richt and Quarterman combining to throw up the U.
With Pinckney's visit on deck in Jacksonville, McCloud got a visit from Richt, Brown and interim coach Larry Scott in his abode in Palm Beach County.
By the looks of the tweet, the smiles and the U's, it was a very successful trip.
Good visit today🙌 pic.twitter.com/FJnaQRtqHT— Zach McCloud (@chief__20) December 7, 2015
As I've previously reported, McCloud has been planning a recommitment to the Canes for a while. It is likely to occur on his upcoming Dec. 13 visit -- a weekend that is also scheduled to host Pinckney, Quarterman, committed four-star quarterback Jack Allison and a slew of other top targets, according to 247 Sports.
Speaking of Allison, there's been a lot of talk about him lately because Richt had one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the nation committed to him while at Georgia in Washington-based five-star Jacob Eason. There's the thought floating around that Eason may follow Richt to the Canes.
Allison made an interesting public statement Sunday night.
I'm from Florida, I'm not afraid of competition— Jack Allison (@Jackof2016) December 7, 2015
One of the other recruits expected to be on UM's campus this upcoming weekend is Patrick Bethel, a four-star defensive end out of Vero Beach, who many believe is a Cane lean. Peter Ariz of CanesInSight.com reported that Bethel also had Richt and Brown visit him Sunday.
A couple of current three-star commits in Fort Lauderdale defensive end Jaquwan Nelson and Deltona tight end Evan Hinson remain firmly committed to UM and await to see how things play out regarding whether Richt will continue to recruit them as he begins combining recruiting boards at Georgia and Miami.
Hinson, who had 32 receptions, 541 yards and six touchdowns this season, was quoted in the Daytona Beach News-Journal as saying, "If they don't want me [anymore], that's probably not the school for me, but if they do want to still recruit me, I'll be right with them and stay committed."
Kentucky is a potential Plan-B destination for Nelson, who finished an incredible senior season with 75 tackles, 24 for loss, 18 sacks, three forced fumbles a fumble recovery and an interception.