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Keeping Score (Recruiting, Part I)

Every year, I make part of my summer vacation to get deeply rooted into recruiting. Not because I'm one of those sickos who hangs onto every word of a teenager, but because I like to get an idea of where Hurricane football coaches are spending their energy trying to bring in reinforcements. It's a good way to see where they think they need the most help and may not have enough talent.

So, for the past two days, I've made phone calls to my sources and scoured the two recruiting websites who spend the most energy on recruiting: Rivals and Scout.com to study up on the recruiting efforts. My goal is to create a recruiting cheat sheet for not only me, but for you to follow in the months and days leading up to the first Wednesday in February 2008. Yes, National Signing Day is a long time away. But when these names come up from now on, they will no longer be foreign to those of you who do not subscribe to the aforementioned websites.

By my count, there will be 16 seniors who will be leaving UM after the 2007 season. Through attrition and with what I expect to be the losses of juniors Calais Campbell and Kenny Phillips with early entry into the NFL Draft, my number of available scholarships for 2008 comes out to about 22. It's not a fact, just an estimate by my math. So far, the Canes have 10 early commitments. Some of them solid. Others not.

Instead of simply listing names here, I went ahead and broke down the recruiting picture by position based on the needs and info I was able to gather from reading up and talking to a few folks in the know. Today, I'll start with UM's focus on offense.

Quarterback: With Kyle Wright graduating after this season and Robert Marve waiting in the wings to Jacoryharristake over, the Hurricanes have already netted two commitments -- Miami Northwestern High's Jacory Harris (6-4, 170, 4.8, No. 6 dual-threat QB according to Rivals.com) and Texas' Taylor Cook (6-7, 210, 4.63, No. 16 dual-threat QB according to Rivals). Other targets: None at the moment. The insight: Harris was The Herald's Offensive Player of the Year and led the Bulls to the Class 6A title last season. Just last week, he was invited to participate in the EA Sports Elite 11 Camp in California. Cook is considered more of a project although his size and arm strength are very appealing. My take: Miami appears to only want two scholarship quarterbacks and has filled the need already -- although Cook could end up straying. He recently told Rivals he isn't sure if he would take other trips and mentioned he was still being contacted by LSU and Rice.

Running backs: Charlie Jones is the only senior on the roster and player expected to be gone after 2007. Getting a big name here could be tough for the Canes considering their top two Darrell_scottbacks, Javarris James and Graig Cooper, are a sophomore and freshman. 2008 commitments: None yet. The targets: Texas's Sam McGuffie (6-0,l 88, 4.32, the No. 1 all-purpose back in the country according to Rivals.com) and Cyrus Gray (6-0, 190, 4.4, No. 8 overall running back according to Rivals) and California's Darrell Scott (6-0, 204, 4.4, No. 1 overall RB according to Rivals). The insight: Only Scott was recently quoted mentioning UM. Locally, there really isn't anything special. Locally, Chris Anderson, the leading rusher in Broward last season, has struggled to net many offers and could be tainted goods. My take: Considering how many running back scholarships were handed out in the last two-plus seasons, tailback really is not a pressing need. I wouldn't be surprised to see UM end up with only one recruit.

Receivers: With three seniors on the roster and the fact there is still a pressing need for a big-time playmaker until proven otherwise, look for the Canes to follow up last year's high volume scholarship spending with another big spending year in 2008. 2008 Thearon_colliercommitments: Booker T. Washington's Thearon Collier. The 5-9, 163-pound senior has 4.5-speed and is a deep threat. But he isn't the big NFL receiver the Canes have sorely missed since Andre Johnson was last seen hauling in passes from Ken Dorsey. The targets: The Hurricanes do not need to go far to fill their needs. Miami Northwestern's Aldarius Johnson (6-3, 200, 4.45, No. 6 by Rivals.com) and Tommy Streeter (6-5, 200, 4.6, No. 29 by Scout.com), Booker T. Washington's Davon Johnson (5-11, 161, 4.3), Pahokee's Martavious Odoms (5-8, 164, 4.57), Glades Central receiver Travis Benjamin (5-11, 160, 4.45) and Lakeland Kathleen's T.J. Lawrence (6-2, 190, 4.5, No. 37 receiver by Scout.com). Nationally, there is Alabama's Julio Jones (6-4, 215, Rivals No. 1 receiver), Mississippi's DeAndre Brown (6-6, 208, 4.62, Scout.com No. 7 receiver), Kentucky's Aaron Boyd (6-4, 195, 4.6, No. 40 by Rivals), Georgia's Josh Harboe (6-3, 195, 4.45, No. 14 by Scout.com). The insight: Aldarius Johnson could already be a silent commitment. Benjamin has a 2.8 GPA and scored a 17 on his ACT. I'd be shocked if UM just didn't take the four Dade kids. Outside of Dade, only Boyd currently lists UM high on his list. My take: There is a ton of talent available and interested in UM. Ultimately, I think UM will end up taking four receivers. To me, the local kids are the best ones.

Tight ends: The run of first round talent at The U from this position is likely over with the departure of Greg Olsen. UM has four underclassmen at this position in juniors Dajleon Farr and Chris Zellner sophomores Dedrick Epps and Richard Gordon, who moved back over to offense after Jonathan_baldwinspending the year on defense. 2008 commitments: None yet. The targets: Pennsylvania's Jonathan Baldwin (6-6, 225, 4.4, No. 2 by Rivals) and Mark Wedderburn (6-6, 235, 4.65, No. 21 by Rivals), California's Blake Ayles (6-4, 235, 4.7, No. 3 by Rivals) and Louisiana's Tyler Edwards (6-4, 238, 4.7). The insight: Baldwin told Canesport he would likely be visiting UM in July and listed the Canes in his Top 10. Ayles listed UM among Ohio State, Wisconsin, USC, Arizona State and California. Wedderburn's brother went to Penn State and the Nittany Lions are believed to be in the lead for him. Edwards visited UM last month and has the Canes among his top four alongside LSU, Alabama and Florida. Locally, the Canes also have a decent option in Coral Springs Academy's Bo Reliford (6-6, 235, 4.80). My take: Miami would love to get a big talent at tight end, but getting more than one tight end isn't necessary. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if UM didn't sign any tight ends in 2008.

Offensive line: Miami has 15 lineman on scholarship and six will be gone in the next two seasons, four of which are expected to be starters or play significantly next season -- center/guard Derrick Morse, guard Andrew Bain, tackle Reggie Youngblood and guard/tackle Chris Rutledge. Jason Fox, the only starting sophomore, could be gone too by 2009 with early entry to the NFL Draft. That being said the Hurricanes netted a potential three-year starter at center in Harland Gunn and have a talent in sophomore Matt Pipho. 2008 commitments: Miami Northwestern's Brandon BrandonwashingtonWashington (6-4, 315, rated No. 6 guard by Rivals.com). Washington told me he still wants to take his trips and is not a done deal, although I'd be surprised if he didn't go to UM considering new assistant Corey Bell coached him at Miami Edison High. Other targets: While Lakeland Lake Gibson's Ricky Barnum (6-2, 260, No. 21 guard by Rivals.com) could end up being the second guard in the class, the Canes appear to be spending most of their efforts trying to land a tackle. There are two local big names in Monsingor Pace's Greg Shaw (6-5, 270, No. 12 offensive tackle by Rivals) and Miami Columbus High's Mike Goodman (6-5, 270, No. 28 offensive tackle by Rivals). Other big names with UM interest are Seffner Armwood's Matt Patchan (6-7, 270, No. 5 offensive tackle by Scout), Tennessee's Barrett Jones (6-5, 270, No. 17 by Rivals) and Preston Bailey (6-5, 315, No. 20 by Scout) and North Carolina's R.J. Mattes (6-6, 260, No. 29 by Scout) and Andrew Wallace (6-6, 260, No. 40 by Rivals). The insight: All are considered top 40 nationally by Rivals at their position. Shaw is the younger brother of former Hurricane linebacker Willie Williams, who is now at Louisville. Last month when I spoke to Shaw, he told me Miami had offered him and his brother's troubles at Miami would not scare him from staying home. Plus, the thought of staying home entices him because of his young daughter. But I suspect Shaw will end up following his older brother to Louisville. Goodman could end up picking Miami, but he strikes me as someone who is very interested in getting away from home. Wallace told Scout he grew up an N.C. State fan. Bailey recently mentioned to Rivals Miami among his offers, but didn't mention them when he talked about taking a visit. My take: Miami will end up taking at least three offensive lineman in this class. At least one tackle is imperative. Right now, though, it appears they have some work to do. None of the aforementioned kids were extremely high on UM.

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OK, that's what I have on the offense. The defense will be coming tomorrow. Before I go, though, this was the second question I was asked to give my opinion on for the Rick George's blog. Figured it would make good topic for you to chew on too. 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.

Q: What is the greatest Miami football game that you have seen - whether it be in-person or on television?  Explain the game and why it was so great.
A: Wow. How in the world do you pick just one? If I could, I'd pick the entire UM-Florida State series and all of the Wide Rights and the Wide Left, the first national championship game in 1983, the 2002 national title game (Yes, I know they lost to Ohio State, but what a game), the great comebacks at Michigan in 1988, against the hated Gators at home in 2003 and any of the big wins against Notre Dame, Nebraska and Oklahoma. But honestly, of all the great games to choose, I'd have to go with the 1998 home game against third-ranked UCLA. The Hurricanes were not ranked and had just lost 66-13 at Syracuse the week before. It seemed like for every step forward the program was taking under Butch Davis, a bad loss to Virginia Tech, Syracuse or some other Big East school was holding the Canes back. Then, UCLA walked into the Orange Bowl looking for a spot in the national title game. Edgerrin James ran wild and Miami won possibly its most important game on the comeback trail from scholarship reductions and the dreadful 5-6 season of 1997. The game was back-and-forth and while likely not the most exciting, the most meaningful because it helped net the recruits that would make up the 2001 national title team and put the Canes back on the map.

Comments

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good work Manny,

I like the way this class is coming together already, kids have responded to Shannon and co.'s commitment to keeping the best in SoFLA

I think TE is a need, some of the best athletes the U has had, came in as TE's. And with more H-backs being used, TE's are a must.

as for a game I witnessed:

I've seen alot, but I'll go recent and take the 05 V-Tech game.

The Canes D exposed Marcus Vick for what he was.

He was a top 3 rated passer going into the game, had draft hype, team was #3 in the polls, dominant Defense backing him up.

Then the Canes forced him into 6 turnovers...

Great post Manny, giving us info and your input is much needed.
peace

Nice info Manny.

I think these kids should take their visits. It's a once in a lifetime experience and they should enjoy it. But when all the dust has settled after the 2007 season, they'll have that U on their chests.

Manny, you need a better, more vision-friendly lay-out for this blog. It's down right annoying trying to read each reply.

Peace from the Legion at canespace.com

nice post - appreciate it.
For me - when the OL gets decent, we will have an offense and win just about every game. I really think that is what has been missing.
Best game...any beat down on the Gators (03 in the OB was pretty special) and of course, our 1st championship against Nebraska - as good as it gets.

Nice blog Manny. I would have to say the 2001 NC game against Nebraska - there was just something special about that group and the way they went out and won it

GO CANES

Nice blog Manny. I would have to say the 2001 NC game against Nebraska - there was just something special about that group and the way they went out and won it

GO CANES

Manny...SolarCane posted a link to you blog at Canespace so we could get folks to check your blog out. I will follow up with another comment about your new post here. Nice work buddy!

I think the Canes need to address the D-Line and Linebackers in regards to depth. I think that the front seven has always been a staple of Miami's success. When Miami forces the opponents to throw the ball that's when they create a lot of turnovers. I think they were able to accomplish that last year regardless of the 7-6 record. In regards to the offense if the backfield improves on their blocking and blocking assignments that would make a big difference in the passing game.

Pretty astute pick there for the best game you've ever seen. That would be my choice as well, but Flutie in '84 is as good a college game as you can ever see, and it's Americana to the core, plus the last play decided who won, not only the game, but the Heisman, so by a nose, I have to go with the game the 'Canes lost and give props to Flutie vs. Bernie in a shootout during a rainstorm. Nice article though.

The call for best game ever just isn't really close, as far as I'm concerned. That 46-3 win over Texas in the Cotton Bowl was clearly it.

I was at the Rose Bowl a few years ago over Nebraska. That was close. But for sheer a$$-kicking, it's tough to beat a 43-point blowout with 200+ yards in penalties (most of 'em for unsportsmanlike conduct).

Manny, I think Miami needs to get at least one thight end that's if the offense still is going to use the thight end. I don't know what to expect from Nix's offense, and only time will tell. I think the greates game I seen is the like you mention the UCLA game because it put Miami back in the map of elite teams.

I have to go with the 2000 FSU game in the OB. We beat the defending national champs and announced we were back. Dorsey to SHockey sais it all. The talent on the field for both teams was amazing when you consider their NFL careers.

Manny,excellent Blog! Since I am living on Long Island, I live my local South Florida Canes life through the Herald and Sun Sentinal. Your insights on this blog are terrific and the timing could not be better with Omar's transfer to the Dolphins leaving a void at the Sentinel.
Thank You!!

Manny-- great post, look forward to the D info

Great Post Manny,
I look forward to seeing the defense posts
- CVS

Nice blog, but it does concern me as to why so few great o-lineman want to come to the U. Not saying we haven't had our share of great ones. I hope we can get the 3 top notched lineman we need in the 08 class.

65-7. Definitely not the most heart pounding of UM games but I recently moved to Seattle and I like laughing at huskie fans so, right now I'm going with that game. Oh by the way, people up here don't know anything about football outside of the pac-10, but at least they know washington has crap for talent compared to south florida. :-)

Excellent, thoughtful and detailed post once again. I echo the sentiment of diffulty getting topnotch offensive linemen. Maybe its time to get some D Line standouts to poun the rock at the red zone.

Maybe put Bailey as one of the OL and running on the path of destruction he will rake through...!

Good post Manny I got to say Im very excited about the future of this team. I cant wait to see Harris. Note to all recruits jump on the bus. Its heading up hill fast.

Manny

How bout the Notre dame game?

Thanks for the great info Manny. (86cane posted a link from Canespace.com)

Looking forward to the chat later.

Let's Go Canes!

Oh Yeah... the comeback against the Gators in the OB was OFF THE HOOK, I thought the stadium was going to come down around us that day... it was ROCKIN!

Went to the National Championship Rose Bowl win over Nebraska too. We were outnumbered, (fanwise) about 20 to 1, (the stadium was a sea of red). BUT, lucky for us only 11 allowed on the field at a time, and we rocked their world with our SPEED.

Those two stand out the most for me.

HAVE NO FEAR CANES-FANS,RANDY SHANNON WILL FILL EVERY GAP HURRICANE FOOTBALL NEEDS FOR YEARS TO COME,SO SIT BACK AND ENJOY!FAV GAME OF ALL TIME HAS TO BE THE FIRST NATL CHAMP 1983,KENNY CALHOUN KNOCKN DOWN THAT TWO POINT CONVERSION,CANES ALWAYS AND FOREVER.

Great post Manny! It's nice to read some good info on recruiting. I've always had a hard time keeping up with it, your post gives me the feeling our recruiting is getting better again. Hopefully we'll see the results in the next couple of years! Go Canes!

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