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Keeping Score (Recruiting, Part II)

I hope you all enjoyed my first take on UM's football recruiting efforts. Here is the second part, focusing on UM's defense.

Defensive tackle: The Canes currently have eight guys on the roster who could play tackle and will lose two after this season including their top talent, senior Teraz McCray. 2008 commitments: Palm Beach Lakes' Jeremy Lewis (6-3, 280, No. 13 by Rivals), Pahokee's Micanor Regis (6-3, 305, MarcusforstonNo. 22 by Rivals), California's Justin Thompson (6-5, 280). Thompson, a JUCO standout at El Camino (where Kayne Farquharson attended) is considered the star of the early commitments, rated 5-stars by Scout.com. Other targets: Miami Northwestern's Marcus Forston (6-2, 285, No. 2 by Rivals) and Benjamin Jones (6-6, 280, No. 24 strongside defensive end by Rivals) and Georgia's Brandon Thompson (6-2, 290, No. 6 DT by Rivlas). The insight: Forston is the most talented defensive player on Northwestern's roster and a player highly coveted by the Canes. He lists UM among his favorites, but could be another silent Northwestern commitment to UM. The dream scenario is Miami gets Justin Thompson and Forston. But landing both could be tough. Both are big targets and Justin Thompson has listed Miami as a soft commitment with LSU and Ohio State right behind. Brandon Thompson has reportedly been a strong Clemson lean, but is said to be visiting UM soon. He also likes Georgia Tech and Florida State accoridng to Rivals.com. My take: UM will end up between three an five defensive lineman depending on what's available. Forston, Lewis, Regis and Justin Thompson would be quite a foresome at tackle.

Defensive end: There isn't a senior on the roster at end, but many expect Calais Campbell (6-8, 282) to Corey_liugetbe highly coveted by the NFL after this coming season. 2008 commitments: None yet. Other targets: Texas's Damion Square (6-3, 260, No. 38 strongside end by Rivals.com), Hialeah High's Corey Liuget (6-3, 230, No. 11 strongside defensive end by Rivals.com) and Alabama's William Green (6-4, 215, No. 2 weakside defensive end by Rivals.com). The insight: Green recently cut Miami out of his top seven, but that's not to say the Canes couldn't sneak back in. Square is the nephew of former Cane John Square. Liuget, who has risen up the recruiting charts, is the primary focus of UM's recruiting efforts. He played alongside 2007 signee Adewale Ojomo. My take: With so much youth on the roster, I think this is a position UM can settle to get one to two players at this position and survive. I think Liuget and Square will end up following their family and friends to UM.

Linebackers: This is the one position that has disappointed Canes fans the most over the last couple seasons and could certainly use an infusion of talent. With three seniors set to leave -- including a pair of experienced starters in Glenn Cook and Tavares Gooden -- new assistant Michael Barrow has been hitting the recruiting circles hard and has already netted one of the nation's top 10 at his position. Expect more to follow. 2008 commitments: Hollywood Chaminade's JordanfutchJordan Futch (6-4, 200, 4.56, No. 6 OLB by Rivals). Futch is a good kid, good student and a great first commitment for the Canes. Other targets: There are a littany of names out there. Nationally, there is Brendan Beal (6-4, 235, 4.5. No. 3 SLB by Scout), Utah's Lynn Katoa (6-2, 220, 4.6, No. 4 MLB by Rivals), Connecticut's Jonathan Meyers (6-1, 220, No. 9 MLB by Scout), Georgia's Ebele Okakpu (6-1, 201, 4.63, No. 18 MLB by Rivals) Kansas' Arthur Brown (6-1, 210, 4.4, No. 1 MLB by Scout) and Tennessee's Antonio Harper (6-4, 220, 4.6, No. 21 SLB by Scout). Locally, there is Miami Dr. Krop's Etienne Sabino (6-3, 230, 4.6, No. 5 MLB by Rivals), Homestead's Marcus Robinson (6-2, 210, 4.57, No. 4 OLB by Rivals), Dunnellon's Lerentee McCray (6-2, 200, 4.5, No. 5 WLB by Scout.com), Melbourne Palm Bay's Ramon Buchanon (6-0, 181, No. 1 WLB by Scout.com) and Miami orthwestern's Sean Etienne_sabinoSpence (6-0, 185, 4.5, No. 19 by Rivals). The insight: I'll start with Arthur Brown, who is considered the nation's best player by Scout.com and who has narrowed Miami into his Top 22. He will visit UM during his Summer Tour from July 18-27. Meyers, whose father went to Florida, recently listed the Gators and Michigan as his top two. Beal lists USC and Florida as his top two. Harper lists UM in his top three with Georgia Tech and Florida, but visited UM unofficially and is close friends with Graig Cooper. Buchanan lists Miami in the top three with Florida and Wake Forest. Robinson hasn't listed a group of favorites, but with Barrow, his former defensive coordinator now at UM, one would imagine the Hurricanes have a strong shot. McCray told Rivals he grew up a Hurricanes fan, but his mother loves the Gators. He lists UM, UF, Auburn, LSU, FSU, Tennessee and Wisconsin as his leaders but likes the Canes best. Katoa recently told Rivals he listed UM in his top five alongside Texas, Oklahoma, FLorida, Miami and USC. But he seemed to be really high on the Longhorns. Okakpu recently visited North Carolina and is high on the Heels. My take: The Canes will load up at linebacker, especially with the run of talent locally. I think in the end, Futch will be joined by three out of the following five -- Sabino, Robinson, Buchanon, McCray or Spence.

Cornerbacks: This is the one position in the last three seasons I felt Miami has actually managed to maintain its strong level of talent at, getting local talents in Chavez Grant and Doug Wiggins. Glenn Sharpe is the only senior set to depart after this coming season, but after that Miami has three juniors Patrickjohnson and a need for at least one or two corners in the Class of 2008. 2008 commitments: Pompano Ely's Patrick Johnson (6-1, 193, 4.47, No. 1 cornerback by Scout.com). Johnson recently expressed interest in USC after commiting to the Hurricanes in April. Other targets: Tallahassee Lincoln's T.J. Bryant (6-0, 185, 4.45, No. 1 corner by Rivals.com), Miami Booker T. Washington's Brandon Harris (5-10, 175, 4.45, No. 8 corner by Rivals.com), Pahokee's Janoris Jenkins (5-10, 170, 4.6), Orlando Boone's Jeremy Brown (5-10, 165), Cocoa High's David Rowe (5-10, 190, 4.55), Miami Krop's Travis Howard (6-0, 175, 4.43), Texas's Ugo Okpara (6-1, 175, 4.45) and Georgia's Terrance Parks (6-1, 200). The insight: Brown appears to be the only player Miami is out of the running for. Rowe says the Canes are in his top two with South Florida, where his brother pitches for the baseball team. My take: The Canes will end up getting at least two great cornerbacks. My picks are Brandon Harris and Johnson. If Miami can hold onto Johnson, Harris and get Bryant too, it would be the best cornerback trio in UM history.

Safeties: Willie Cooper is the only senior on the roster, but he probably won't be the only player to leave UM after the 2007 season. Junior Kenny Phillips could be gone too with a stellar season, leaving the Canes in need of getting at least one safety in 2008. 2008 commitments: Fort Lauderdale Boyd Anderson's Joe Wylie (6-2, 170, 4.5, No. 19 by Rivals.com). Other targets: North Carolina's Spencer Will_hill Adams (6-2, 180, 4.44, No. 11 by Rivals.com), Delray Beach Atlantic's Karnell Hatcher (6-2, 186, No. 14 by Rivals.com), Texas's Victor Johnson (6-1, 175, 4.5, No. 16 by Rivals.com), Jacksonville Sandalwood's A.J. Grant (6-2, 190, 4.45, No. 15 by Scout.com), New Jersey's Will Hill (6-3, 195, 4.50), Georgia's Darrell Simmons (6-2, 196, 4.5, No. 36 by Scout.com), Alabama's Burton Scott (5-10, 190, 4.45, No. 18 receiver by Scout.com). The insight: Hill, considered the No. 1 athlete in the country by Rivals.com, recently listed UM among his final eight schools. Adams, a track standout, told Scout.com in May that he really liked Miami a lot and listed the Canes among his favorites which include Michigan, Clemson and North Carolina. Hatcher listed Miami in his top five with LSU, Alabama, South Carolina and West Virginia. But he seems to like LSU and Alabama best. Johnson, who also runs track, calls Miami his dream school and lists them among his top two with Oklahoma State. Simmons listed UM after Alabama, but ahead of Florida, Ohio State, Michigan and Tennessee when interviewed by Scout.com last month. Scott, whom Miami is recruiting as a defensive back, told Scout he likes Florida a little better than FSU, Miami and Alabama. He will likely decide early. My take: Miami wouldn't mind landing two talents here, but I suspect they'll take the three best defensive backs available with a possible fourth regardless of position.

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Before I go this was the third question I was asked to give my opinion on for the Rick George's blog. Figured it would make anoither good topic for you to chew on during these boring summer months. FYI, he's asked reporters from all over the country to take part in talking college football and is running an interesting series on some of the country's top programs like Florida, Tennessee, USC, Notre Dame, Penn State, Auburn, LSU and Texas. So far, Nebraska and Ohio State. Check it out here.
3. Who do you hate more as a rival - Florida, Florida State, Virginia Tech, or Notre Dame - and why?
Another great question that is awfully tough to answer. For Miami fans, no team is honestly a better rival than Florida State. The games, the battles have always been classic. No two programs mirror each other more as far as the players are concerned. The speed is equal. The talent is usually equal. I think if you asked a Canes fan, they'd say their favorite rivalry is with Florida State because the Seminoles are really the only team Miami has played on a yearly basis for a long time. But the most hated? That's a whole 'nother topic. While Notre Dame is a program UM fans hated during the 1980s when the teams actually met on the field, Miami has not played the Irish since 1990. And while there will always be a special place of hate for Notre Dame, no team is more disliked than the Gators. Florida, now at the top of the college football world, ducked UM when it was on its own magical ride and backed out of the annual series because they didn't like get blasted by the Canes. UM fans took their beatings from Florida in the 1960s and 1970s and never liked the fact the Gators decided to take a step back after 1987 and only renewed the series in 2002 after UM had gone through its struggles in the 1990s. So, to most Canes fans, the most hated rival has to be the Gators.

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