Five days before National Signing Day, here’s the most stunning factoid about UM’s recruiting class: The Canes have as many commitments from players who grew up in Nigeria as they do from recruits who attended high school in Dade or Broward.
As one clever fan cracked to Manny Navarro on Twitter, UM is putting up a wall.
But seriously… the fact that UM has snagged only two local kids – defensive backs Artie Burns and Jamal Carter – is eye-opening and a bit disconcerting at this late date. That’s not to say UM’s class is inferior. There are some very good players in this group of 12 – quarterback Kevin Olsen, Burns, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammed and tight ends Beau Sandland and Standish Dobard.
But UM needs to close with a flourish.
That’s why many will question UM’s decision to pull its scholarship offer to Denver Kirkland after Kirkland refused to accept what amounted to a take-it-or-leave-it offer on Thursday.
Kirkland, ranked ninth nationally among offensive tackles by rivals.com, is universally rated higher than the three offensive linemen who are orally committed to UM: Alex Gall, Hunter Knighton and Sonny Odogwu.
Booker T. Washington coach Tim Harris, who used to work for UM, reacted angrily; check out Manny Navarro’s UM blog for details.
Harris didn’t go as far as to say it would hurt UM’s chances of luring Matthew Thomas, one of the nation’s top linebackers, but you have to wonder.
A quick Canes update with signing day approaching:
### Defensive tackle: Considering Miami's need for impact d-tackles, it will be a disappointment if UM can’t lure either Jaynard Bostwick or Keith Bryant. But Bryant has said Miami is trailing FSU and South Carolina, and Bostwick has a strong relationship with the Gators’ defensive coaches and will spend the weekend visiting UF.
UM still believes it has a real chance with Bostwick, but the Hurricanes are no longer a favorite here. At best, it’s a tossup for the Port St. Lucie tackle. And Alabama isn’t out of the question. If Bryant reverses course and picks UM, it would be a major surprise.
UM has a decent chance of grabbing defensive tackle Terrell Brooks, a junior college All-American in Texas this season. But his coach told me tonight that he’s not sure what Brooks will do, and that Kansas State and Baylor also are in the mix.
### Running back: As long as UM gets either Alex Collins or Augustus Edwards, the Canes will be content. But it would be troublesome if they don’t get either.
Collins’ coach, Doug Gatewood, told both me and Manny Navarro today that he isn’t pushing Collins to Arkansas, contrary to Internet chatter. He said "I don't think Alex knows" what to do. That gives him only the weekend to choose among UM, Arkansas, UF and Wisconsin before he announces on Fox Sports at 10 p.m. Monday.
Gatewood denied a report that Collins has cut the field to just Miami and Arkansas, but it would be a surprise if he doesn’t end up at one of those two schools.
Meanwhile, Edwards told Rivals.com tonight that he no longer ranks FSU ahead of UM and has both schools about even heading into his Coral Gables visit this weekend.
### Linebacker: FSU always has been confident about landing Thomas, but UM and Alabama remained strongly in the mix as of Thursday. But it remains to be seen whether Thomas is influenced by the Hurricanes’ spurning of Kirkland…. Louisville and Tennessee are making a hard push for Miramar’s Jermaine Grace, but it would be a mild surprise if he doesn’t pick UM.
### Receiver: Stacy Coley, the only receiver that UM really covets, hasn’t tipped his hand, but is said to be strongly considering UM, FSU and USF. Mississippi also has drawn consideration. His coach said he loved his USF visit this past weekend.
### Tight end: With Jeremy Kerr switching his commitment to FSU, UM has an opening for a third tight end in this class and is targeting Virginia-based Ryheem Lockley, who will visit this weekend. UM and UF appear the top contenders, according to canesport.com, but Lockley likely will spend this fall in prep school. Miami also has resumed speaking to Indiana-based Nate Wozniak, who also can play offensive tackle.
Please check the last post for the Friday media column.