Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt knows he can’t keep every South Florida star home

Mark Richt wasn’t speaking about Jerry Jeudy in particular, since NCAA rules prohibit coaches from speaking about unsigned recruits, and the question was general in nature. It had nothing to do with Jeudy.

But Jeudy has been on Richt’s mind.

Mark Richt, shown encouraging then-uncommitted prospect Jerry Jeudy at UM's Paradise Camp on July 16, 2016. Jeudy later committed to Alabama. (247Sports)

Mark Richt, shown encouraging then-uncommitted prospect Jerry Jeudy at UM’s Paradise Camp on July 16, 2016. Jeudy later committed to Alabama. (247Sports)

[Richt doesn’t text in church, but otherwise he’s available]

[Richt establishes ‘U Network’ to help former players]

Jeudy, a four-star wide receiver from Deerfield Beach High, did what was widely expected by recruitniks on Thursday: He committed to Alabama. He is one of the top receivers in the Southeast, rated No. 4 nationally at his position by ESPN.

Miami was after him hard, but apparently got in the game too late. Don’t view that as a misfire for Richt; according to sources with knowledge of Jeudy’s recruitment, Al Golden‘s staff didn’t make it clear to him he was a priority. Other top programs did. By the time Richt’s staff arrived in January, Jeudy was on the way out.

When speaking about recruiting to a group of reporters on Wednesday in Miami Gardens, Richt made it clear that he doesn’t expect to land every Division I kid in South Florida. He said that even when the Hurricanes were at the top of the game, in the ’80s and ’90s, he said they weren’t locking down every kid. It’s a numbers thing.

“Everybody says we got all the great talent back in those days – you can’t get all the great talent,” Richt said. “There’s 150 of them every year that go Division I. But you’ve got to get the right ones. That’s got to be the goal, to make sure we get the very best.

“You know, some guys are destined to leave town, you know what I’m saying? It’s the best thing for them. But the ones that want to be home, I want them to know that every dream they have in life, they can accomplish all their dreams right here at the ‘U.’”

Losing Jeudy hurts Miami, which needs talented pass-catchers in the 2017 recruiting class. Among the names they hope to sway: uncommitted four-stars Devonta Smith (Amite, La.), Jeremiah Holloman (Covington, Ga.) and three-star West Virginia commit Mike Harley (Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas). UM has commitments from three at the position — three-stars Kevaughn Dingle, Rodney Scott and Evidence Njoku — and four-star athlete DeeJay Dallas, who could play receiver or cornerback.

“Not everybody’s going to stay in Miami,” Richt said. “There’s just too many of them. So the key for us is finding the ones that we want the most and fit all the criteria we’re looking for, but also guys that want to make things happen where their families are close by and bless them, too. The big thing is, I don’t want any young man or any parent to think that there’s a better place to be than the ‘U.’ That’s the goal.”

Asked a general question about how recruiting was going, Richt said:

“I think it’s going well. It’s going well. We’re getting what we need. We have X amount of players we need at different positions and we can only sign so many, but I think it’s going well. And we’re doing pretty good with the ’18 and ’19 class, too. We’ve got a couple ‘20s fired up.”

He’s also sparking interest in kids from the Class of 2026. That’s the purpose of his recent tours of youth league fields in Miami-Dade County, a practice that will continue during the season and expand to Broward and Palm Beach. Richt called it “crucially important” to establish those relationships with the community, with players, their coaches and families. That’s one reason why he plans to spend time every week introducing himself and his program to players ages 5-14.

“I love them and I want them to do great things in life, and I want them to be thinking about being great, at this young age,” he said. “Getting in the habit of doing things right. Just the simplest things, like paying attention and being respectful and taking care of your grades, all those types of things. But from a selfish point of view, I know there are a bunch of future stars out here, too. And I want them to fall in love with the ‘U.’”

You never know. He might be speaking to the next Jerry Jeudy, or Amari Cooper, or Calvin Ridley, or Sony Michel, or …


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