Is it just me or is the recruiting going on with the University of Miami getting out of control? Do we need to start checking UM assistants for performance enhancers? It's not even three weeks after the last National Signing Day and the Canes already have one of the nation's Top 2009 recruits.
I'm not breaking any news here. You know who I'm talking about. Bryce Brown, the younger brother UM linebacker Arthur Brown and the top junior running back in the country, decided to taper the madness surrounding his recruitment on Thursday and announce his expected intentions. Brown told Rivals.com he's going to follow his big bro and will play football for the Canes. Sure, he added an asterisk next to his commitment by saying he still plans on taking his trips (which recruit doesn't do that these days anymore).
But after talking with his trainer, Brian Butler, I don't think young Bryce is going to break his commitment unless like Butler said "he has his socks blown off." So, why should you care about a kid who still has a year of high school to play making a commitment to the Canes now? Three reasons: Brown (6-1, 212) is a beast; he could potentially convince other top '09 recruits to follow him; and because this is yet another sign Randy Shannon, Clint Hurtt and the rest of the UM recruiting crew is down-home serious about getting the ship righted.
"I think he's a big time player," national high school recruiting analyst Charles Fishbein told me when I asked him to state the obvious about Brown. "He's super athletic. He runs hard. He's a punishing, physical back. But the one thing I noticed about at the combine I saw last year is the way he changed direction. He was more athletic than his brother. I think his change of direction is special. He could play linebacker and safety if he wanted to and start at running back. He's that good."
Brown, like his big brother, has Butler -- his trainer -- do most of the talking for him these days. But I'm hopeful I'll get a chance to talk to the younger Brown soon. I certainly plan on talking to Arthur Brown when spring practice begins next Tuesday.
According to what UM recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt told me last week, Miami wants to nab two running backs in it's '09 class and will likely have 19 scholarships available overall. That means UM could still very much land the best running back in South Florida and a Rivals.com 4-star recruit in Miami Killian's Lamar Miller. I asked Fishbein, who is a recruiting encyclopedia, to describe the differences between Brown and Miller.
"Brown reminds me of Jamal Lewis. He's big powerful running back with breakaway speed," Fishbein said. "I think Lamar is one of these kids whose a powerful runner, he's going to run outside the tackles more and not as a punishing runner as others. Bryce is a guy that will not only can he wear you down for three quarters, but he'll break out with a long run. Lamar can pound it out for a play or two. But with Brown, this is the type of kid who wears you down and by the end of the fourth quarter, he wears you out."
I asked Fishbein if he really thinks getting a 5-star kid this early will help in the recruiting game, something Brown said he did in part because he wants to help the Hurricanes recruiting players. This was his take
"I think anytime you get a big-time player like that can help a recruiting class," Fishbein said. "But I think at the end of the day, it's going to come down to is Miami getting it done on the field. This year was like a mulligan year. The coaches are new, so you can't really blame them for the past. But I think overall they've got to win. Bryce will stick because his brother will be there. At the end of the day, when Miami goes outside of the tricity area, Miami is going to have to win next year. I think they have to at least show some improvement on the field -- 8-4 type season. Kids are all about winning now."
Here's a footnote: Butler said Miami is also recruiting two other players he trains locally in Kansas -- inside linebacker Jayden Bird (6-3, 230) and outside linebacker Houlden Tharpe (6-1½, 210). Fishbein told me neither of those kids are on Brown's level talentwise.
HERE'S A YOUTUBE CLIP OF BROWN. WARNING: It was obviously made by a Kansas State fan who was hoping Bryce might actually buy into it and pick the in-state team. Either way, it's a good collection of clips.