In this installment with Rivals.com recruiting analyst Chris Nee we cover what he thinks of UM's three incoming quarterbacks, their defensive linemen, if UM took players it shouldn't have and if they missed out on guys in their backyard they should have gotten.
Q: What are you thoughts on the three QBs UM has lined up? Any of them really have the potential to be big time?
"Preston Dewey got banged up during Under Armour and prior to getting banged up he really didn't show much. I thought he struggled. He had a couple nice passes on the week, but not anything that grabbed your eye or caught your attention. David Thompson always has question of baseball hanging over his head. But he has good talent. It's tough to grade him against his level of competition. He didn't do anything or play anywhere that showed us what he could do against different players. Gray Crow has great arm strength, looks great in camps. But in games he's inconsistent, throws a lot of interceptions. His feet are a huge concern for me. I don't know how he's going to handle a pass rush at the D-1 level. He's got really heavy feet. I think it's something he understands. I just don't know how much room for improvement there is."
Q: What about on the defensive line, did UM address its needs?
"[St. Thomas Aquinas'] Jelani Hamilton will end up on the inside. Early on he'll play on the outside. But when he's healthy Jelani is a great football player. [Tampa Jefferson's] Tyriq McCord is a great speed rusher. You want to line him up as an outside rusher, put him in space. The up position is kind of what he was made for. [Vero Beach's] Dwyane [Hoilett] is a bit of project in that he has to add strength and improve as a football player. But I like him a lot because he has a good first step and he does a good job getting in the offensive backfield. He just has to develop physically. [Palm Beach Central's] Gabe Terry is a pass rushing specialist. I don't know if he can defend the pass. He's a little bit small to play defensive end. So if you put him at linebacker I don't know if he's a liability. All of the film I saw of was he was a speed rusher of the edge, which is what he's good at. I don't know if they got a guy on par with an Anthony Chickillo. I don't think they got that complete dominating force at defensive end. But a guy like Dwyane Holiett is a guy you shouldn't grade after this year. Grade him after 24 to 30 months."
Q: Who ultimately makes an immediate impact on defense as a freshman?
"Jelani Hamilton assuming he recovers from knee surgery. I think he can. [Safety] Deon Bush, [Linebacker] Raphael Kirby can. [Tampa Jefferson defensive end] McCord can if you put him as an outside linebacker type. If you want him at defensive end he will need to add weight. I think Rayshawn Jenkins can make plays at safety. He'll be raw back there. But athletically speaking, physically speaking he's ready to contribute."
Q: All in all, a good job by UM recruiting or did they miss?
"I think they did a good job. The one thing about Miami is when all the [Nevin Shapiro] news broke they kind of rushed a little getting some commitments. At that time they may have taken a guy or two they may have not needed -- [Leesburg receiver] D'Mauri Jones -- that they could have gone out and gotten that was better. But all in all I grade them as doing a pretty good job. Getting [Miramar cornerback Tracy] Howard -- if they can -- would be a nice cherry on top. But getting [Palm Beach Central receiver Angelo] Jean-Louis back in March or April was good. And they definitely added depth. A guy like D'Mauri Jones is a toss up. He may develop into a really good player. He may develop into nothing. I don't think it's always bad to take a guy like that."
Q: Still, and I've heard this from a few scouts, did UM take recruits who aren't supposed to be Miami guys? Do you think that was panic setting in with the NCAA investigation?
"I don't know if it was so much panic. They just had some really deep needs. They had to load up on DBs. [Hialeah American cornerback Larry] Hope is a D-1 player. I don't think he's a bad player. I just don't know if he's a Miami-caliber player. I think at that point they did have to take some risks. A guy like [Tallahassee Godby tight end Brandon] Holifield they took him after he came to their camp. That's personal evaluation. That is what it is. He's only played one year of football and he wasn't even a primary contributor. He played off the bench a lot. He's extremely raw, more of a basketball prospect than a football prospect. But hey, Jimmy Graham was a basketball prospect and look what he's doing on NFL Sundays."
Q: Who would you say are the biggest risks, maybe not Miami guys that they took a chance on?
"[Countryside quarterback] Gray Crow. His feet are just really a concern as far as being able to evade anything in the pocket. I'd say [American High cornerback] Larry Hope falls in that category, [Leesburg receiver] D'Mauri Jones, [Tallahassee Godby tight end] Brandon Holifield, and then [Cypress Bay linebacker] Josh Witt. Witt's kind of a specialist at linebacker. I don't think he has a whole lot of versatility. It is what it is. But one thing Miami made evident in this class was they're really going to trust themselves. They do their own evaluations. They don't go after a kid if they truly believe they shouldn't have him. I don't think they recruit off a list. And I think that's what a lot of schools fall into. A lot of schools will go recruit a kid because a lot of people say he's really good, even though he doesn't fit what they're trying to do. You need glue guys to make you a better team even if they're not a superstar."
Q: Who did they miss out on in their own backyard?
"Well, if they don't get him, Tracy is a guy Miami has to keep home. I think Tracy arguably is the best player in the entire state. We consider him the top corner in the country. Now, they did a good job because they kind of started on the back of the bus with him and worked his way up. The fact they're getting him to visit is unbelievable. I think that's a real credit to how Al Golden is willing to recruit until the final minute and give his program a chance. Honestly, outside of him, Miami was a bit down this year. I'd say [Miami Beach athlete] Ricardo Louis is a guy you want to get. He'll end up at Florida State or Auburn. I know this is going to sound a bit crazy, but considering they needed three quarterbacks I'm surprised they didn't give more of a look to [Miami Northwestern's] E.J. Hilliard. He's a bit raw and has to develop. He's only started one year. But I thought that was a steal by FIU personally. [Northwestern receiver] Amari Cooper is probably the biggest miss, him going to Alabama. I think the world of Amari. He's got a ton of talent. He's a huge receiver. If he can stay consistent he's going to be unbelievable. They had [South Miami cornerback] AJ Leggett for the longest time. That had to do with academics. I wouldn't fault Miami for that."
Q: Is this a Top 10 Signing Class?
"I don't think it's one of the top seven, eight classes in the nation, but I think they did a good job building depth, getting some really good players. I think the top 10 players in their class are some very good football players. I'd say top 15, top 20 class for sure without a doubt. I think some of the inflated rankings has to do with having 31 kids committed. But guys like Duke Johnson, Reggie Northrup, Jelani Hamilton, Deon Bush, Angelo Jean-Louis, Ereck Flowers, Malcolm Lewis, Tyriq McCord, Danny Isidora are great players. Those are guys a lot of schools in the country wanted and they did a really good job bringing in some top tier talent that's going to help them next year because they have voids to fill."
Q: Surprised they've done as well they have?
"I think when you take everything into account, the mediocre record, guys leaving to NFL, the whole investigation and possible sanctions I think they did a good job. Anytime you get a guy like Duke Johnson to stay home -- I know he's a die-hard Cane -- but that's still a huge get in light of everything. I'd give the class a B, B-plus for sure. Tracy Howard pushes them up a letter grade because that would be a huge get. At that point it would be tough to argue against a class with two five star kids and 10 kids who were four stars or higher. And some of their three stars -- Danny Isidora, Dwyane Hoilett, Rashawn Jenkins are going to be major contributors as well."