Al Golden's first signing class at UM has grown over the summer from 16 to 19 players.
His 2012 class? That's already at 19 players and we're still a little more than seven months away from National Signing Day.
The Hurricanes picked up two more verbal, non-binding commitments on Tuesday. The first, 6-2, 215-pound outside linebacker Reggie Northrup from Jacksonville First Coast is considered the 26th best at his position according to ESPN. The other, Tallahassee Godby receiver/tight end Brandon Holifield (6-6, 216), just started playing football three months ago and isn't even the best pass catcher on his team.
Such has been the story this summer with Golden's second recruiting class. For every highly-regarded recruit he's landed a commitment from, there's another player recruiting analysts sort of scratch their heads at. Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services said he likes the players UM has offered and received commitments from, but thinks Golden and his staff are "taking a lot of kids they can wait on."
"I don't think they're doing a bad job, I just think they're taking a lot of kids that are going to need time to develop, not instant impact type guys," Fishbein said. "That's not necessarily a bad thing. But when you're losing as many guys as they're losing, you need a few that can play right away. The teams they're trying to catch aren't waiting for kids to develop. They're reloading."
Of the 19 commitments in UM's class, eight are four-star recruits (five are considered ESPN Top 150 recruits) and eight are three star recruits. ESPN ranks the Hurricanes as having the ninth-best overall recruiting class as of June 23rd.
ESPN recruiting insider Corey Long said while UM's 2012 class "isn't going to win the 2012 recruiting national championship, they're loading up on athletes -- and some of them are real good."
"I think in general some Miami fans are wondering what's going on," Long said. "But you look at some of the players they've gotten -- Reggie Northrup is a heck of a player. [Miami Norland running back] Duke Johnson is the best player in the state. [St. Thomas Aquinas defensive tackle] Jelani Hamilton is one of the top three defensive lineman in the state. [Austin, Tex. quarterback] Preston Dewey is a major steal. [South Miami cornerback] Amos Leggett has a hard time staying with schools, but is a talent. [Norland linebacker] Keith Brown has gotten huge. [Norland's] Erick Flowers is a good offensive lineman.
"It might not be the sexiest group of kids, but the guys they're recruiting and getting commitments from players they're seeing up close and have a plan for. They're doing their due diligence. If a coach sees a player and believes he can play at the level they want him to and the level they'll be facing, he'll take them. That's anywhere. Al Golden has his own level of evaluating talent. Every coach sees something different. They're inviting kids to camp, watching them and taking the ones that stand out. That's what they're supposed to do."
Long believes UM will end up signing more than 30 players in its next class. The local must-gets in his opinion for the Hurricanes? Miami Columbus and ESPN Top 150 player Deon Bush (considered the sixth best safety in the country) and either Homestead receiver Herb Waters or Miami Northwestern receiver Amari Cooper.
"Bush has to be their No. 1 recruiting target," Long said. "As for the receivers out there, I like Cooper the most. I've got him as the third best receiver in the state. Waters is good too. Either one of them will make their receiving class better. There is also a lot of local talent in 2013 with [University's] Jordan Cunningham and [Northeast's] Stacey Coley. So maybe they wait for one of those guys."
Both Long and Fishbein like Northrup.
"I saw him at the FSU Camp last week," Fishbein said of Northrup. "He's going to be a 235 pound linebacker, going to run down hill and be a good run stopper. I think he could be a starter in his second year, after playing on special teams his first year. He's a little stiff in pass coverage. He's athletic enough to play bigger, slower tight ends. But I think he's more of a downhill run stopper, kind of like a Darryl Sharpton."
Northrup, who had 108 tackles and seven sacks as a junior, will likely come in and play outside linebacker according to his father. He could also end up enrolling early in January.
"He's completed a lot of his requirements already," Northrup Sr. said. "I know he's taking his ACT again, the math portion because he wants to get a higher score. But ultimately what will determine if he goes early is if they take away wrestling in the Jacksonville area. He's a two-time state qualifier, placed third as a sophomore. If they cut wrestling, I'm sure he's going to want to go to college early."
As for Holifield, he's considered a gifted athlete with a lot of upside, but not a whole lot of football experience. He finished third at the state championships in the high jump and caught one pass in his spring game for a touchdown. After camping at UM recently, Holifield added a UM offer to a group that included FAU, Gardner-Webb and Samford.
"He's on a team with Laith Harlow, a 6-5, 240-pound tight end who is headed to Oklahoma," Long said. "So I don't know how many opportunities [Holifield] is going to get to catch the ball. But he's definitely a talented athlete, not a bad guy to take a chance on. Miami coaches obviously saw something at their camp they really liked."
UM commitments (Ranked in order based on ESPN Player grades, e-ESPN 150)
WR Angelo Jean-Louis, Palm Beach Central, 6-0, 185 (e-No. 7 WR)
RB Duke Johnson, Miami Norland, 5-9, 175 (e-No. 10 ATH)
CB Amos Leggett, South Miami, 5-11, 175 (e-No. 8 CB)
QB Preston Dewey, St. Andrews, Austin, Tex., 6-2, 200 (e-No. 9 QB)
LB Raphael Kirby, Stephenson, Stone Mountain, Ga., 6-1, 215 (e-No. 11 OLB)
LB Reggie Northrup, Jacksonville First Coast, 6-2, 215 (No. 26 OLB)
LB Keith Brown, Miami Norland, 6-1, 215 (No. 27 OLB)
DE Jelani Hamilton, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, 6-4, 245 (No. 35 DE)
DT Trenton Taylor, Lakeland Lake Gibson, 6-3, 245 (No. 26 DT)
WR Jontavious Carter, Crisp County, Cordele, Ga., 6-3, 192 (No. 40 WR)
QB Gray Crow, Clearwater Countryside, 6-3, 220 (No. 34 QB)
OT Ereck Flowers, Miami Norland, 6-6, 288 (No. 61 OT)
DE Dwayne Hoilett, Vero Beach, 6-3, 212 (No. 64 DE)
DE Jake O'Donnell, Central Bucks East, Doylestown, Penn. 6-5, 235 (No. 83 DE)
CB Vernon Davis, Miami Coral Reef, 5-9, 170 (No. 47 CB)
CB Larry Hope, Hialeah American, 5-10, 160 (No. 50 CB)
QB David Thompson, Miami Westminster Christian, 6-1, 195 (No. 89 QB)
WR D'Mauri Jones, Leesburg, 6-3, 185 (Unranked)
TE Brandon Holifield, Tallahassee Godby, 6-6, 216 (Unranked)