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Finding hidden gems no easy task for Canes

I've never been a believer in the star system used to rate recruits. Just because a player has a certain number of stars -- or offers -- doesn't necessarily mean he'll become a superstar in college. 

Is linebacker Kelvin Cain going to be another Colin McCarthy or will he end up being the next Eric Houston?  But on the flip side of the argument -- and one I think maybe isn't discussed enough -- are the under the radar players, the kids who don't have offers from many BCS schools. There has been a long held belief that when the University of Miami was thriving in the 1980s and late 1990s, it did a great job at finding those hidden gems and signing them. 

Over the past couple of days, we've heard about how UM has gone after players like Miami Beach defensive tackle Delmar Taylor (a player with five high school games under his belt), Buffalo Canisius High linebacker Jimmy Gaines (a Buffalo commitment and 2-star prospect visiting UM this weekend), Clovis (Calif.) Buchanan High linebacker Kelvin Cain (a player with no other BCS offers). 

If there is one common theme with the Hurricanes' 2010 recruiting class its that most of the players expected to sign on Feb. 3 aren't among the most highly coveted in the nation. In fact, if you look at Rivals for instance, only six of UM's 24 commitments are rated four stars (elite) or above. Those are: RB Storm Johnson, OL Malcolm Bunche, RB Eduardo Clements, OT Tavadis Glenn, OT Brandon Linder and LB Travis Williams. ESPN also has six players rated four stars or above. Their list has: Johnson, Clements, Linder, Glenn and DE David Perry and LB Kevin Nelson. 

For argument sake, let's say there are eight players that are being recognized as "BCS caliber." That means the Hurricanes are counting on 16 current commitments, considered "middle of the road" to "2-star gambles" that UM's staff is hoping develops into gems. So what is the likelihood of that happening? Who really knows. But if you look at UM's recent history with players rated 3-stars or less, it's easy to see finding a gem is harder than it might have been when UM was winning national titles. 

Here's a look at the good, the bad and the ugly since 2005 when the Canes signed players considered by Rivals.com to be three stars or less. Note: *-denotes 2-star player.

- Eric Houston, LB: Career special teams player
- Daryl Shaprton, LB: Late bloomer broke out his senior year
- Matt Pipho, OL: Didn't play until his fifth season, struggled at right tackle
* Jerrell Mabry, FB: Never panned out 

- Chris Lewis, DE: Transferred to Fresno State, had 20 tackles, 1 INT in 2009
- Colin McCarthy, LB: 3-year starter, All-ACC First Team in 2009 
- Ian Symonnette, OL: Career special teams player
- Chavez Grant, CB: Never made a strong impact. Started 19 games, 2 INTs
- Steven Wesley, DL: Has started 17 games and has 3 sacks heading into senior year
- Matt Bosher, K: Team MVP in 2008, All-ACC First Team
- Chaz Washington, DT: Never panned out
* Daniel Stegall, QB: Returned to baseball, career fizzled with Mets in minors
* Joel Figueroa, OL: Has 13 career starts heading into senior year at guard
* George Robinson, WR: Quit football after one year

- Lee Chambers, RB: Career backup has 272 yards rushing, 1 TD heading into junior year
- Harland Gunn, OL: After two years on scout team, he started five games in 2009
- Leonard Hankerson, WR: Had breakout 2009 season and enters senior year highly touted
- Shawnbrey McNeal, RB: Transferred to SMU and had breakout season, entering NFL Draft
- Jojo Nicholas, S: Injured in '09, likely will be passed up on depth chart in 2010
Chris Perry, DT: Played in eight games in '09 at Texas Tech, four tackles, 1 sack
Adewale Ojomo, DE: Broke jaw in a preseason fight with walk-on; expected to start in 2010 
Jared Campbell, S: Made 6 starts in 2009, 31 tackles, 5 pass breakups 
* Tyler Horn, OL: Projected started at center in 2010
* Daniel Adderley, WR: Has not panned out 

- Micanor Regis, DT, Made strong push toward end of '09 season, 2 INTs in 13 games
LaRon Byrd, WR, Struggled down stretch of '09 season, 33 catches, 460 yards, 1 TD
Joe Wylie, DB, Left the program last summer 
Thearon Collier, WR, Shined as a punt returner, finished with 18 catches, 250 yards
Antonio Harper, LB, Academic casualty, now a defensive end at Troy
Kendall Thompkins, WR: Has hardly played, rumored to be transferring or switching to cornerback
Gavin Hardin, LB: Played in one game in '09, missed rest of season with injury
Cannon Smith, QB: Transferred to Memphis, expected to assume backup role in 2010
* Taylor Cook, QB: Transferred to Rice, expected to assume backup role in 2010
* Brandon Marti, LB: Arrested, cut from the team; in JUCO trying to revive career
* Zach Kane, LB: Arrested, cut from team, not heard from since he entered prep school
* C.J. Odom, DB: Another academic casualty. Out of football
* John Calhoun, FB: Has played mostly on special teams
* Patrick Hill, FB: A two-year starter expected to return in 2010 after missing most of '09 with injury.
* Jake Wieclaw, K: Hasn't been able to wrestle away any of the three kicking jobs from Bosher 

- Prince Kent, DB: Academic casualty, signed with Baylor after shining in prep school
Curtis Porter, DT: Filled in well during his freshman season for injured Marcus Forston
A.J. Highsmith, QB: Elevated himself to backup quarterback in the spring
Billy Sanders, TE: Expected to compete for the starting tight end job
Jared Wheeler, OL: Could compete for playing time at guard or center
Cory White, TE: Converted to offensive tackle, played on scout team
Shayon Green, DE: Injured, missed entire freshman season
Stephen Plein, TE: Converted to offensive tackle, played on scout team