Once again, the Hurricanes are the early leaders in the ACC’s recruiting race.
The finish is a long way away.
ESPN, which released its Class of 2017 rankings update on Wednesday, rated the Hurricanes No. 5 nationally and first in the ACC. Miami also ranks No. 3 nationally in 247Sports’ composite ratings and Rivals’ rankings. The only outlet to rank Miami No. 2 in the ACC is Scout, which has Clemson fourth nationally and Miami fifth.
Part of that, as was the case when the Hurricanes jumped out ahead of the pack in previous seasons: they have a large number of early commits, which leads to a higher ranking. Generally, the formulas that determine recruiting rankings award a certain number of points for a five-star prospect, a four-star prospect, and so on. Miami, with a few four-star prospects and a slew of three-stars, has more points at this juncture than other teams (that may be lacking in commitments, period).
Miami’s total of 15 verbal pledges is by far the ACC’s most, ahead of Clemson (nine), Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Boston College (eight). Some of those players almost certainly will not end up at UM — mostly (though not always) because they get more enticing offers, or Mark Richt‘s staff doesn’t feel the same way about them that Al Golden‘s did. That would be expected even without a coaching change. Verbal commitments are nonbinding. Rising seniors may sign letters of intent on Feb. 1, 2017.
That’s not to say the Hurricanes’ class isn’t potentially very good. ESPN rates five UM commits in its top 300 players nationally, and especially likes running back Robert Burns, ranking him No. 6 at his position and calling him “one of the nation’s best when healthy;” quarterback N’Kosi Perry (No. 4 dual-threat QB) and offensive lineman Navaughn Donaldson (No. 9 guard).
Its analysis also said Perry and three-star Cade Weldon “give Miami terrific future quarterback options” along with Jack Allison, a four-star who enrolled in January.
One boo-boo in ESPN’s writeup: it mentioned a need for the Hurricanes to sign more defensive players “to align with their 3-4 scheme.” New defensive coordinator Manny Diaz runs a 4-3, but the idea that UM needs more defensive talent (especially in the back end) is true.
As for Burns, the injuries ESPN alluded to may have kept his numbers down. As a junior, he gained 265 yards and scored two touchdowns on 60 carries. “I’ve had some injuries and sometimes I got in my own way,” he told 247Sports recently. “I’m doing a lot of strength training to make sure I’m at my best as a senior.”