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Crucial time for recruiting

There is no time more important for a program to be at its best than during the peak of recruiting season. The University of Miami entered its stretch run this year by firing its coach and sending a bunch of assistants, many who likely will not be here, to go out and bring in a strong recruiting class to help salvage the future.It doesn't exactly sound like a great plan. But the truth is Miami can still salvage its future and stay away from suffering what likely will be another down year somewhere down the road if this administration can hire quality with some quickness.

Miamihurricanes_1Recruits at this point can tell you whatever they want. Believe me, I've found that out the hard way covering preps in this town for more than 7 years. North Miami Beach offensive lineman Max Jean-Gilles had me convinced he was going to be a Hurricane. On Signing Day, he pulled out a Georgia cap from underneath a table and made me feel stupid. I got over it. UM didn't. I'm sure they would have loved to have Jean-Gilles, an All-American guard at Georgia, opening holes instead of some of the guys they had there during what's turned out to be three bad seasons by UM standards in a row.

Nowadays, the recruiting game has changed a bit. Guys like Jean-Gilles make their decisions before the holidays so they can announce them on TV. The guys who really aren't that special wait until National Signing Day. The Hurricanes have missed on certain key players the last couple of years, especially locally... Davin Joseph (Oklahoma), Nate Salley (Ohio State), Quintero Frierson (Rutgers), Dwayne Bowe (LSU), Elvis Dumervil (Louisville). This year, in all honesty, they can't afford to. The top athletes in Dade and Broward this season are solid.

The fact the Hurricanes don't have any commitments from any Dade or Broward player at this point is disturbing. I know the Hurricanes hit an all-time low at 6-6 this season, well, for at least the people in my generation. But I talk to these kids all the time. As much as Northwestern RB Antwain Easterling may love the Gators right now, the truth is you can hear in his voice he'd love to be just like his cousin, Willis McGahee, tearing up the Orange Bowl turf and being a star in front of his friends and family. Ditto for St. Thomas Aquinas safety Major Wright and Homestead WR Alphonso Bryant, two elite players.

This is the time when whoever ends up staying at Miami has to make a serious push to keep the local guys here. Not next month when the new coach comes in and the players UM fought so hard for outside of Florida have already picked USC, Texas, Florida and Tennessee. Now is the time, when the Hurricanes have to take care of the local guys and actually make them feel like they aren't being treating like a last resort. If they don't, I fear whoever ends up with this coaching job will have two seasons to make up.

I_tomlemmingOK, I'm done yapping. I interviewed quite a few local players in the last couple of days, the father UM commitment Nick Fanuzzi, as well as CSTV.com's Tom Lemming, a recruiting guru who has been at this thing for years and told me he thinks UM has to have their coaching search finalized by Dec. 10 or likely faces another terrible recruiting season. Lemming is great. We talked about plenty of things including the coaching search, recruits UM should target, their current commitments and who he thinks will get away, etc. Anyway, I've posted all of the audio interviews in our audio section. Click on the link and listen in if you have time. In the next few days as I have conversations with coaches and recruits from across the nation, I plan on sharing them with you so you can here the people themselves react to the questions.

Here's what I would like you to react to:
1. Of the current UM coaching staff, who would you like to see retained?
2. Are there any local recruits you would like to see UM go after?
3. Now that we've seen a ton of candidates' names get tossed into this thing, who do you think absolutely has to be crossed off the list?

Also, before I wrap this up. Just have to send my condolences to UM men's basketball coach Frank Haith, whose nephew was the 23-year old bachelor who was shot and killed by police in New York Saturday night. Sad story for the Haith family, but yet another chapter in what has turned out to be one of the worst seasons for off the field incidents for members of the University of Miami family I can remember.