It's going to be a big recruiting weekend for the University of Miami, an important one for the Hurricanes who are looking to impress some big-name recruits and fill some key needs. With a few late additions (and barring any last minute subtractions), it looks like Randy Shannon and his staff are going to host between 10 or 11 recruits. Six recruits are uncommitted and five have called themselves Canes' commitments for awhile. UM currently has 18 commitments. Shannon said his team could sign as many as 27 on National Signing Day Feb. 4.
The biggest new name added to the visitors' list and the news of the day? Tight end/defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who after getting a visit earlier this week from recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt, has agreed to make the trip down to Miami according to Scout.com. Richardson (6-4, 292) played in the U.S. Army All-American game and is considered one of the nation's best athletes. I confirmed with a source inside UM that Richardson is definitely considering Miami, a program he grew up admiring. It would be a huge steal if Miami were able to get him to decommit from Missouri, a program he has been committed to since the summer. But it could just end up being a joy trip for Richardson (update: Canesport reported late this afternoon Richardson will now be visiting the weekend of Jan. 30 and not the 23rd like Scout.com had reported). But you got to give Hurtt, who told me Tuesday he was in St. Louis, credit for at least bringing Richardson to town.
While Richardson's visit is good news for the Canes, the bigger story this weekend will involve the three nationally-rated offensive linemen scheduled to be here, too. They are 6-6, 320-pound Malcolm Bunche (a Rutgers commitment) of Newark, Del., 6-5, 325-pound Peter White (considering Miami, Maryland and Tennessee) of St. John's College Prep in Washington, D.C., and 6-5, 295-pound Marcus Hall of Cleveland Glenville High (who is coached by Dolphins receiver Ted Ginn's father and will be tough to convince from leaving behind nearby Ohio State).
BUNCHE UPDATE, 6 p.m.: I got a phone call back from Bunche's high school coach this evening, who gave me a little insight into Malcolm and the relationship he has with Miami. Newark High coach Butch Simpson told me Bunche (who orally committed to Rutgers earlier this year before decommitting) has establish a great relationship with UM offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland throughout the recruiting process. In fact, Simpson has history not only with UM, but Stoutland, too. Newark is where former Canes defensive tackle Orien Harris played. Stoutland tried to recruit Harris to Michigan State and developed a good relationship with Simpson then. Simpson said Bunche, whose father played in the NFL and CFL, had a good visit with Randy Shannon on Tuesday and said he will probably wait about a week after his visit to make his final choice between the Canes, Rutgers and Maryland (both of whom visited Bunche Thursday at school).
The Hurricanes currently have four offensive line commitments. Two former prep school standouts are already on campus in former Miami Northwestern standout Brandon Washington (6-5, 320) and former St. Thomas Aquinas player Jermaine Johnson (6-6, 330). The other two, Plantation American Heritage's Jared Wheeler (6-6, 310) and Fleming Island's Cory White (6-5, 250) will also visit this weekend. Coach Randy Shannon is looking to ink between 6 or 7 linemen in this signing class. The Hurricanes are expected to host 6-6, 350-pound junior college prospect Andrew Tiller on the final recruiting weekend of the year Jan. 30.
I caught up with White's high school coach, Neal Chipoletti, this afternoon, who told me Miami wants White to be 270 pounds by the time he arrives in the summer or he could end up being moved to tight end. He played left tackle all season for Fleming Island.
As for the other non-committed visitors, Miami will host three players who are considered more under the radar talents: 6-2 1/2, 218-pound outside inebacker Sam Barrington of Jacksonville Parker High, 6-3, 225-pound defensive end Shayon Green of Tift County, Ga., and 6-3, 202-pound linebacker Greg King of Memphis' Melrose High (the same school which produced current UM running back Graig Cooper). FYI, of the three, King is the only iffy arrival at this point (his coach called me later Wednesday and said he could also end up visiting the 30th. Tight end Terrell Mitchell, a 6-6, 230-pound prospect, from Powder Springs', Ga. will now visit January 30th (I was previously told it was going to be this weekend).
I caught up with the coaches of Barrington and Green Thursday before lunch to get their insights into their players and their impending visits.
> Parker coach Jim Scrible, who has coached 45 Parade All-Americans in his near 40 years of coaching including former Florida running back Willie Green, said Barrington is as good as any he's ever coached. Barrington had more than 100 tackles on defense as a linebacker, but also ran for 1,250 yards with an 11-yard average as a running back.
"Sam Barrington is a spectacular person. That’s where it all needs to start," Scrible said. "He has tremendous ability to elevate people around him as a person. There’s a lot of cats running around, Rivals 5-star, this that and whatever. Sam is a spectacular leader. He’ll make the locker room better for being there. Now, as a football player, got all the physical tools. He’s a hitter, got a good motor. I’ve had many Parade All-Americans in 45 years and he ranks up there with him. He’s projected in my mind to have a great career."
This will be Barrington's final recruiting trip. He's already made visits to Illinois and South Florida. Scrible said Barrington has a connection with an Illinois assistant coach, who is a Jacksonville native, but says Miami is definitely in the picture even though the Hurricanes got in a bit late. "He wouldn't be wasting their time if he wasn't serious," Scrible said. "That's not Sam."
> Green has been orally committed to Purdue, but appears to be seriously considering the Canes. His high school coach Jay Walls said Green has to be interested in the Canes because he's turned down other teams and visits before. The reason he likes Miami? A bond with UM defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff, a Tifton native himself. Green has played all over the field in high school, lining up as an interior defensive lineman as a sophomore, a weakside linebacker as a junior and most recently as defensive end. He had 67 solo tackles, 48 assisted tackles, 8 TFL, 1 quarterback sack and caused 1 fumble as a senior.
"Everybody has recruited him as a will linebacker or maybe a rush end kind of guy on passing situations and bring him off the edge," said Walls, who has his own Canes' connection having coached former cornerback Kelly Jennings and senior Bruce Johnson when he was a high school coach in the Florida Panhandle. "He does have a pretty good knack of getting off really well off the snap. I think you’ll see him play will linebacker or defensive end. He’s going to get bigger too. He’ll probably get close to 250 by the time he's a freshman."
> Of the commitment who will be visiting -- Wheeler, White, cornerback Jamal Reid, quarterback A.J. Highsmith and cornerback Kayvon Webster -- the trip will be most important for Webster. He has been a "soft commitment" and entertained thoughts of possibly switching to the University of South Florida, where a few other high school teammates could end up.
> As for Terrell Mitchell (who I had previously included in this weekend's list of visitors) McEachern coach Kyle Hockman told me he is now coming on January 30th. Mitchell is visiting Michigan this weekend. Coach Micheal Barrow has been the one courting Mitchell for Miami (here's what Mitchell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the Canes two days ago.)
“Miami didn’t start recruiting him until last weekend and they haven’t communicated with me a whole lot, but they know Terrell is talented,” Hockman said. “He’s an NFL player. He’s 6-6, 230, can run and catch and block. He’s a big time player. He had like eight touchdowns and 27 catches and blocked great for us all season. He’s got to get his test score up to be eligible up. He needs 60 more points. But we think he’ll get there. He’ll be visiting Michigan this weekend. He’s been to Kentucky, had offers from Arkansas and Georgia. Clemson and Kentucky are the only official visits. People are certainly interested.”
** Look for any other updates I might get (I'm waiting on a few phone calls) in this same blog or in our response section below.