The past week has to have been probably the most exciting time all year for Hurricanes fans. Every day this week there's been a different kid committing to the program and to new coach Randy Shannon. After a 6-6 season, a bright future is about the only thing that feels good if you wear orange and green on Saturdays.
But I caution those of you who perform such rituals as painting a U on the side of your head or shouting for absolutely no reason "WE GOT SOME CANES UP IN HERE! WHOOSH! WHOOSH!" to slow your roll. Calm down. Even if its just a little bit. National Signing Day is still more than 6 weeks away. And a lot can change from here to then. I'm not trying to kill the buzz. Just trying to restore some reality.
Now, what Shannon and company have done in the past week is amazing. And the next couple of days might turn out to be even sweeter after he visits Belle Glade tonight and the home of star receiver Deonte Thompson. But nothing is a done deal until the kids sign on the dotted line. I've been to too many high schools on the first Wednesday in February the past 10 years to know just because a kid says I'm going doesn't mean squat. Before this is over, Florida State is bound to take someone from Miami. It always happens. Look up Antone Smith and a former Northwestern High defensive lineman whose name escapes me. Like I said, I hate to be a buzz killer. But I know sometimes you got to take a step back for a second a get a reality check.
That being said... while I know some of you spend your lives on Canesport.com and Canestime.com message boards reading up and seeing video of these prospective recruits, I know some of you prefer to save the monthly $10 and live off hearsay. I'm no expert and won't pretend to be. Rivals.com and Scout.com are the place to go if you want die-hard info on who these kids are and what they are thinking up to the minute. Those two websites do an excellent job covering every angle of recruiting and I've got a lot of respect for the guys that do the job -- Matt Shodell, Christopher Stock, Mike Bakas, Gary Ferman (and company). But if you would rather save $10, you can come here and at least get one person's perspective (I was the high schools writer for five-plus years in Miami-Dade) I'll provide what insights I can in the days leading up to Signing Day. But those guys I mentioned above are perfect for the die-hards.
First off, as of right now UM has exactly 10 oral commitments. Here's the working list with basic info with some notes added in. Note: The highest star rating by Rivals is 5. I'll throw in what I know from speaking to some of these guys, their parents and coaches afterward.
WR, Daniel Adderley, Simpsonville (S.C.). Southside Christina (6-6, 215, 4.5, 2-stars)
-- Of all the recruits Adderley is the biggest unknown. I spoke to his coach Dexter Davis when the kid committed two weeks ago and he said Adderley is the real deal and compares him to USC's Dwayne Jarrett. That's a big comparison, but Adderley's size and speed is something to like. He was being recruited by Tennessee before he ended his senior season five games in with a broken collarbone. A native of the Bahamas, who could end up being the biggest steal of the recruiting season.
DB, Damien Berry, Belle Glade Glades Central (5-11, 197, 4.46-speed, 4 stars)
-- Rivals rates him the No. 13 safety in the nation. Helped lead Glades Central to 3A state title. When I spoke to his coaches before the state championships, they told me he was a UM lock. I know when I spoke to Berry himself the day before the state championship game last week he told me having Mario Cristobal at UM was big for him. Cristobal recruited him. He told me he was planning on taking a trip to LSU before taking his final visit to UM. I think the Hurricanes end up with him. Joseph Goodman spoke with him on the day of the state championship game and he said he was going to UM no matter what. His father Kenny Berry is a former Hurricane. By the way, Berry played the second half of the season with a torn ACL. He will likely have surgery and need some time to recover. Recruiting analysts compare him to Ed Reed.
QB, Nick Fanuzzi, San Antonio Texas Churchill High (6-3, 200, 4.6, 3-stars)
-- Rivals isn't too high on Fanuzzi, but Scout.com rates him the 23rd best QB in the nation. I've spoken to his father numerous times in the last two weeks and get the sense his son really wants to come to Miami and is excited about some of the names the program has attracted recently. Thing is, a few other schools of late have entered the mix in contacting him Alabama, Arizona State and Kentucky, where Fanuzzi's father went to school. On film, Fanuzzi reminds me of Kirby Freeman. An athletic quarterback who can throw on the run. I think there's a chance Fanuzzi strays if UM gets Robert Marve from Tampa Plant. But we'll see how things shake out.
WR, Kayne Farquharson, El Camino, Calif. JUCO (6-2, 185, 4.4-speed, 4 stars)
-- Rated 6th best JUCO WR available. Led El Camino to JUCO state title in California. Spoke to him on Monday after he finally returned my call. I know some of the websites say Farquharson is a soft verbal, but the kid told me he was officially signing with UM on Dec. 20. He will come in as a junior and by my estimation will likely contend for starting time immediately.
OL, Harland Gunn, Omaha, Neb., Central (6-2, 300, 5.2, 3-stars)
-- Rated the 9th best center in the nation by Rivals.com although Scout.com rates him higher. I've never spoken to Gunn or his coach despite repeated phone calls to his school. But from all reports the kid looks like he'll sign with UM. I know some UM staff are excited about this kid and the prospects of him being an immediate contributor with Anthony Wollschlager gone.
WR, Leonard Hankerson, St. Thomas Aquinas (6-2, 185, 4.4, 3-stars)
-- Rated the 44th best receiver in the nation by Rivals.com but I suspect the kid is better than that. When I spoke to two state recruiting analysts, Charles Fishbein and Corey Long, both said Hankerson reminds them a lot of his coach, former Dolphin and Vikings star receiver Anthony Carter. Hankerson is the best receiver in Broward County hands down and might have the perfect pedigree to be a solid, consistent contributor over his career at UM. I think he's a lock.
WR, Jermaine McKenzie, Bradenton Prep (6-1, 170, 4.41-speed, 4 stars)
-- Newest commitment. Rivals rates 13th best receiver in the nation. Kid told me he was a UM lock because he grew up a Hurricanes fan. But when I spoke to his father last night, he said it was more like a 95 percent done deal. McKenzie will make a trip to UM in January. I think he'll end up a Hurricane.
WR, Taurus McKinley, Belle Glade Glades Central (5-9, 165, 4.6, 3-stars)
-- Rated the 57th best receiver in the nation by Rivals.com. Fishbein told me McKinley is a tremendous route runner -- kind of like Santana Moss -- and his speed is deceiving. I've never spoken to McKinley, but I have spoken to his coaches who tell me he is likely a UM lock. For starters, McKinley is the younger brother of current Hurricane Randy Phillips. While nothing is for certain, I know he is close with his teammates -- Deonte Thompson, Damien Berry and others. I wouldn't be surprised if ended up being a part of a package deal either for Miami or for someone else like LSU.
DE, Adewale Ojomo, Hialeah High (6-3, 225, 4.6, 3-stars)
-- Rated 28th best weakside defensive end in the nation by Rivals.com. I've seen the kid play twice and I can tell you he is a big, physical specimen. He's fast enough to play outside linebacker. But I think he's going to end up being a quick end, kind of like an Eric Moncur. He loves Randy Shannon and is a Cane lock told me so last week when he committed. His cousin is Dallas linebacker Akin Ayodele.
DT, Chris Perry, Keller, Tex. Fossil Ridge (6-3, 320, 5.1, 3-stars)
-- Rated the 25th best defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com. Kid has been hot and cold on Miami for months. I have never spoken to him and I've left messages unreturned. But reports are he recently took a trip to Nebraska where he liked it a lot. Miami at this point probably is 50-50 to land this kid although he is still reportedly set to visit UM in late January.
OK, those are the 10 commitments. Who else is Miami targeting?
If you read my story today (Bradenton star McKenzie commits to Canes) then you know UM is also apparently after Robert Marve whom I mentioned earlier. He is a talented kid who I got to see play twice and came away impressed both times. Great arm and accuracy. Small by QB standards at 6-1, 200 pounds. But big enough to be a playmaker and leader at UM. Might be the perfect arm for all of the new receivers UM is landing.
OK, beyond Marve these are other potential targets.
WR Deonte Thompson, Belle Glade Glades Central
RB Graig Cooper, Milford Prep, N.Y. (former commitment)
RB Antwain Easterling, Miami Northwestern
ATH Doug Wiggins, North Miami Beach
ATH A'Jami Guyton, Homestead
S Joseph Nicholas, Homestead
S Major Wright, St. Thomas Aquinas
WR Alphonso Bryant, Homestead
OL Kevin Bryant, Hallandale
LB Brandon Hicks, Jacksonville Forrest
Anyway, that's what I know for now. Here's what I want to get from you. More reaction to the recruiting news and other feelings and thoughts on the Canes.