With the high school football season now past the halfway point in most parts of the country, the recruiting scene is starting to tighten up. The number of remaining scholarship offers are being narrowed down for the Class of 2009 as the nation's future college football stars decided earlier and earlier and make National Signing Day irrelevant. At The U, the story is the same. In the past month, the Canes have picked up a trio of verbal in-state commitments, two defensive backs in Kayvon Webster and Jamal Reid and a third running back in Miami-Dade's top recruit, Lamar Miller.
A collection of 16 verbal commitments have been put together for a class that I was told on last National Signing Day by UM recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt shouldn't exceed 20. So, what does that mean? UM has maybe five scholarships left to put to use (give or take one depending on whether or not defensive end Olivier Vernon sticks) before February 4th. And by all accounts, the Canes' primary focus to fill those spots will be made on the offensive line, where UM is set to lose its starting center in Xavier Shannon and three tackles to graduation after this season.
So, who are the Canes courting? A solid collection of highly-touted names. Canesport.com reported last week one of them is 6-7, 270-pound Arizona tackle Taylor Lewan, considered 47th best at his position by Rivals. Consider him the newest guy UM is chasing. The others are Fayetteville, N.C.'s Xavier Nixon (6-6, 263 pounds and No. 2 according to Rivals at tackle), Utah native Xavier Su'a Filo (6-4, 285, No. 12 among tackles), Ohio native Chris Freeman (6-7, 325, No. 49), Washington D.C. product Peter White (6-5, 340, No. 4 guard) and local product Jared Wheeler (6-5, 31, No. 19 guard). Miami also recently received news it will get a visit from one of the nation's top defensive tackles in Detroit's William Campbell (6-5, 317). Campbell could play offensive line at the next level.
The Canes have two legit offensive line commitments including one from 2008 signee Brandon Washington, who is now in prep school in New York. The other is Cory White of Fleming Island, Fla., who starts at left tackle for his team.
> This week, in bringing back The Recruit Report, I caught up with a few of UM's current commitments including Reid, who told me he's been getting a lot more attention from the nearby Florida Gators since he made his commitment to UM late last month.
‘‘They always were recruiting me, but since I pledged, they've really pushed hard," he said. "I still feel like I'll be a Hurricane no matter what. I gave them my word."
Reid (6-1, 175) is a statistical machine and a player Gainesville Sun writer John Patton has said could be the best receiver to come out of his coverage area in the 10 years he's been covering high schools there. Reid had 10 catches for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns and an interception a 35-0 win over Branford last week. In a 46-28 win over Dixie County earlier this year, Reid caught six passes for 223 yards and scored three touchdowns. Lafayette is 6-0 this season.
Reid said he's playing safety and corner, but Canes coaches want him to come in as a corner. He said he can't wait to come down and visit UM at the end of his season and to check out South Beach. For the last two years, Reid has two younger sisters have lived with his aunt and uncle. His father was sent to jail two years ago and is expected to be released in August.
‘‘I'm from a town of 4,000 people," Reid said with a laugh. "I know Miami has a really nice campus. People always talk about Miami and the beaches, the rap stars, the movie stars. I guess it must be real interesting down there."
> I also caught up this week with a few other players including cornerback Brandon McGee (who is finally only playing defense), defensive end Olivier Vernon (who has his other trips to Alabama and FSU booked), and the coach of defensive tackle Curtis Porter. Enjoy the rest of the recruiting updates.
THE OTHER COMMITMENTS...
> Bryce Brown, RB, 6-0, 215, Wichita East, Kan.: Bryce, who was elevated into the Rivals.com Top 5 rankings this week, is tearing things up in Kansas. Brown ran for 274 yards on 13 carries and scored six touchdowns as Wichita East rolled over rival Wichita West 54-0. He scored on runs of 24, 47, 69, and 14 yards and his last score came on a 46-yard catch. He now has 1,266 yards on 134 carries with 23 touchdowns in six games. His team is 5-1.
> A.J. Highsmith, QB, 6-0. 186, Fort Bend (TX) Hightower: After picking up play three weeks ago following Hurricane Ike, Highsmith has led his team to three straight blowout wins. It was last week in a 40-7 win against Clements he threw for 191 yards and three touchdowns. Highsmith is now 32 of 62 on the season with 612 yards passsing, 8 TDs and 2 INTs according to the Houston Chronicle.
> Mike James, RB, 5-11, 211, Davenport Ridge: James has led Ridge to three consecutive victories since our last report. He returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and piled up 202 yards rushing on 33 attempts and a 45-yard touchdown run a 14-0 win over Bartow High. A week later in a 13-10 overtime win against Lake Region, James went down with a shoulder injury after just rushing for 41 yards on 10 carries. But he returned last week and led Ridge to a stirring 14-13 victory against Lakeland Kathleen that featured an 81-yard touchdown run. He finished with 101 yards on 22 carries.
> Lamar Miller, RB, 5-11, 205, Miami Killian: The newest commitment for the University of Miami has been having quite the season for the Cougars. He leads Miami-Dade in rushing and has Killian at 5-1 with 12 touchdowns and 892 yards rushing on 115 attempts. Against Miami Southridge last week, he ran for 150 yards on 20 carries and had the game-clinching 20-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Against nationally-ranked Lakeland two weeks ago, had 152 yards on 25 carries including two touchdown runs in a 27-22 loss on the road.
> Stephen Plein, TE/DE, 6-6, 240, Fort Myers High: As the team's starting defensive end, Plein has played well in the team's 3-3 start. He is fourth on the team in tackles with 31 and leads the Green Wave in sacks with 3½ on the season. He had two sacks and nine tackles in a 35-28 loss to Baker and hasn't played since.
> Billy Sanders, TE, 6-4, 240, Lake City Coueru d'Alene, Idaho: Sanders had three catches in his first two games, but had three for 28 yards in a a 34-33 win against Del Oro late last month. Sanders' team is 3-3 on the season. Canesport.com reported Monday Sanders is being courted heavily by UCLA.
> Brandon Washington, OL, 6-5, 315, Milford Prep, N.Y.: According to Rivals.com, Washington is still headed to The U next year. Rivals lists him as the No. 2 prep school recruit in the country. Milford Prep coach Bill Chaplick was quoted as saying recently Washington has dropped down to about 315 pounds. "He's so mobile and very physical. He just wants to punish players out there. As good as Charles Deas was for us, Washington is better," Chaplick said.
> Cory White, OL, 6-4, 240, Fleming Island: As the starting left tackle and anchor for the offensive line, White has helped the Golden Eagles off to a 6-0 start. The offense is averaging 32.3 points and 415 yards a game and has only given up six sacks alls season.
> Antonio Harper, LB, 6-4, 230, Hargrave Military Academy: Playing on the most loaded prep school team in the country -- with an estimated 21 Top 50 recruits by Rivals, Harper has played well for Hargrave. He is ranked 17th overall among prep school recruits.
> Prince Kent, ATH, 6-3, 195, Norcross (GA): Kent scored on two long touchdown passes in a 38-7 win against Chattahoochee on Sept. 27, finishing with three catches for 136 yards. Then, in a 45-0 blowout of Northview, he totaled 122 yards receiving on three catches. Kent is playing both ways for the Blue Devils and six games has 23 catches for 467 yards and two touchdowns. His team is 4-2.
> Brandon McGee, DB, 5-11, 186, Plantation High: Since his team's blowout loss to Miramar, McGee has gotten his team back on the right track with three straight wins. And he's no longer playing offense -- except in spot duty. In fact, he's not even playing corner anymore. "I'm at safety now," McGee said. "I think I'm doing pretty good. In our last game [a 30-13 win over Piper] I had seven solo tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Coach Davis thought it would be best to move to safety because of my ability to make plays. I like it. But my bread and butter is corner."
McGee said he'll likely play safety the rest of the season with teammate Vladimir Emiellen out for the year. He had an inteception two weeks ago in a win against Ely playing corner. He said he's been to every single Hurricanes home game this season, rooting his future teammates on. "I can't wait to get there," McGee said. "I talk to coach Shannon, coach Hurtt, coach McGriff every other day. They know I'm hungry to come in and help."
> Curtis Porter, DT, 6-2, 334, Charlotte Victory Christian: The Kings improved to 4-3 last week with a 52-8 win in which Porter had about eight tackles and a sack according to coach Frank Crockett. He said Porter has been invited to play in the Shrine Bowl, a local All-Star game played on Thanksigiving weekend in the Charlotte area. This weekend, Porter plans on attending the UM-Duke game along with teammate Justin Fox, adefensive end and Duke commitment. Crockett said Porter has six sacks on the season and is getting leaner. He said Porter is around 320 now and is even being used in a fullback role on offense.
> Luther Robinson, DT, 6-3, 280, Fort Pierce Westwood: Robinson had helped the Panthers get off to a 5-1 start this season. He had a breakout game against Jensen Beach on Sept. 26, piling up six tackles, three sacks and interception. He's got 26 tackles and six sacks this season through five games.
> Olivier Vernon, DE, 6-3, 239, Hialeah American: Vernon hasn't been on the playing field since he sprained his ankle against Coral Reef last month and he's not sure when he'll be back this season. He said he's been rehabbing for two weeks now, but still feels pain when he makes cuts. He has, however, been busy making plans for official visits. He told me Monday night he plans on starting his college tour Nov. 8 at Florida State, followed by a trip to Alabama on Dec. 5. and UM on Dec. 12. He also wants to make a trip to USF "To me, they're all level in my eyes," Vernon said. "They all could win the championship in the next few years. I want to be a part of that."
Vernon said he attended the UM-FSU game and it was "fun." "I really like what UM does as far as rotating guys and keeping them fresh," Vernon said. "I can be a part of that."
> Kayvon Webster, DB, 5-11, 181, Monsignor Pace: The two-way standout has 16 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown on offense for the 4-2 Spartans this season and has set the tone on defense as the team's leading tackler this. He's come up with huge defensive plays -- including a sack and forced fumble late in the game in a win at Naples.