University of Miami coach Randy Shannon and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland will be in the living room of the top offensive lineman in the country tonight, trying to convince Seantrel Henderson and his parents that The U is the best place for him.
After they're done, Shannon and Stoutland will come racing back home from chilly St. Paul, Minnesota to host what will be the final recruiting weekend before National Signing Day. Most experts think Henderson, a 6-8, 320-pound monster left tackle and Parade Magazine's National Player of the Year, will opt to stick with Big Ten power Ohio State or Notre Dame when he announces his decision Monday afternoon in a CBS studio in New York.
But his coach said the Canes, who will host Henderson and a rather large group of visitors this weekend are definitely in the running. "They're definitely on the short list he's seriously thinking about," Cretin-Derham Hall coach Mike Scanlon said. "He wouldn't be wasting their time if he wasn't."
Even though fans might feel down, the Canes have a consensus Top 20 recruiting class according to all three major recruiting services. ESPN currently has UM highest at 12. Both Scout and Rivals have UM 20th. But landing Henderson -- or any other of the top-end weekend visitors -- would go a long way in improving that ranking. And it might even put a smile on some of even the most critical of Shannon bashers.
So who else will UM get a visit from? Aside from U.S. Army All-American receiver Ivan McCartney from Miramar High (whom UM has a 50-50 shot at) and a handful of other commitments, the rest are out of towners the Canes are hoping to make a big impression on.
> There is highly-touted defensive tackle Ego Ferguson from Hargrave Military Academy, whose father McDonald played at Miami Edison with UM director of football operations Corey Bell. Florida State and Notre Dame are considered the front runners, though, for the 6-4, 270-pound standout who also has Cal and LSU in the mix. He's supposed to announce his decision Wednesday in New York.
> In addition to Ferguson, two other less touted defensive tackles will be visiting. UM probably has a better shot at landing at least one -- if not both.
Jeffrey Brown, a 6-2, 270-pound senior from Township High in Evanston (Ill.) is expected to become UM's 27th commitment after his weekend visit to Coral Gables. Lightly recruited out of the Chicago area (his other offers are from Eastern Michigan, Illinois State and Toledo), his coach told me Brown is an under the radar star with big hands and a lot of upside. He was discovered by defensive coordinator John Lovett.
Jeff Whitaker, a much more highly-touted player (Rivals has him ranked as the fifth best defensive tackle in the country) out of Warner Robins, Ga., has taken a liking to the Canes and defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff. Whitaker's coach, Bryan Way, said the Canes have worked hard since December 1st to convince Whitaker (also considering Auburn and Georgia) to give UM a look. Wednesday, new defensive line coach Rick Petri was at Warner Robins with McGriff to meet Whitaker.
"A month ago when McGriff came in here, I told him coach, I really don't think you should bother," Way said. "But since that time, their chances have definitely gone up. I still think it's probably going to be Georgia or Auburn. I'm not sure Jeff wants to go that far from home. But then again, a month ago, I wouldn't have even considered Miami. Jeff is definitely intrigued by it and wants to see how it's going to be down there. So, I'd give them a chance."
Whitaker is planning to announce his decision Monday during a press conference at his school at 2 p.m.
> Three other players are scheduled to make trips to UM: Olive Branch (Miss.) offensive tackle Shon Coleman, Fontana (Calif.) linebacker Josh Shirley and Decatur (Ga.) cornerback Marques Dixon.
Coleman was committed to Auburn and is likely to end up there or somewhere else in the SEC; Shirley might not even make the trip after a "strong visit" at USC last weekend and Dixon, a Tennessee commitment, might not visit either.
> For those that are interested, three video segments I recorded this week have been posted on MiamiHerald.com. There is the Recruiting Report with Larry Blustein, a studio interview with Miami Beach defensive tackle and Canes recruit Delmar Taylor, and another I shot with 2011 quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Check it out.