Tracking Hurricanes recruiting buzz around the web:
* Florida State is reportedly “pushing hard” for UM’s top-rated commit, Miami Central offensive tackle Navaughn Donaldson. The eight-best tackle in the country according to Rivals, Donaldson told Canesport he “can’t say for sure” if FSU is close to UM. Offensive line coach Stacy Searels visited him Thursday. Elsewhere, Canesport reported Plantation-American Heritage offensive line duo Tedarrell Slaton and Kai-Leon Herbert will visit UM together Jan. 21, and UM has a better shot of landing the uncommitted Slaton than flipping Herbert, a Michigan commit.
* Quarterback Cade Weldon is changing his mindset. Weldon, a three-star, mid-year enrollee from Tampa, told Canesport he is open to redshirting, but with coaches telling him Brad Kaaya is “up in the air, 50/50” on the NFL draft, Weldon wants to be ready to compete for the starting job.
* Though four-star wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman committed to Georgia this week, UM is not out of the race for five-star DeVonta Smith. The high school coach of Smith, a Louisiana prospect who once committed to Richt at Georgia, told Canesport that Smith will visit UM and because of that relationship with Richt, he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Smith winds up at UM.
* Two junior college prospects to keep an eye on, according to Canesport: five-star offensive tackle Elliot Baker and four-star cornerback Jhavonte Dean. Both are Alabama commits, but both are considering Miami and will take official visits Dec. 9. Dean, from Homestead, seems more serious about Miami than Baker, a San Francisco native who has never been to Florida. But both play positions of great need for UM.
* Safety is a big need for Miami, with Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins graduating. Good news on that front: Palm Beach Gardens three-star Amari Carter is enrolling early. Canesport reported safeties coach Ephraim Banda and cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph brought a projector to Carter’s house this week for a film session. Another early-enrollee safety, Miami Southridge’s Billy Gibson, said he’s excited about coming in January. He’s also working on recruiting his friend, Miami-Columbus four-star cornerback Christopher Henderson. Oh, and InsideTheU reported Rumph and Banda visited four-star safety Cyrus Fagan, an FSU commit, on Thursday and Fagan told them he would visit Dec. 9.
* Three-star linebacker Waynmon Steed, from Miami Central, will have ACL/meniscus surgery Friday according to Canesport. He said he hopes to return in the fall. He told InsideTheU he was considering Louisville or Mississippi State, but is no longer doing so. It’s a good thing Steed is enrolling in January, because he’ll be able to get into a college-level rehab program.
* Several players of Hurricanes interest will be playing in the state championships this week and next. Large schools state semifinals are 7:30 p.m. Friday (FHSAA.org for more info, click here for online streaming info), and small school state championships are next weekend.
In Class 8A, Miami Southridge and UM safety commit Billy Gibson visit Deerfield Beach, which has a five-star receiver of major interest, Alabama commit Jerry Jeudy. Southridge also has cornerback Antwan Collier, whom Hurricanes coaches are evaluating, four-star uncommitted 2018 wideout Mark Pope, 2018 four-star receiver commit Daquris Wiggins and 2019 five-star linebacker commit Diamante Howard. The other semifinal is Orlando-Dr. Phillips at Sanford-Seminole.
In Class 7A, receiver Mike Harley — who is committed to West Virginia but highly interested in Miami — and his Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas mates host Venice. Aquinas has several other heralded 2018 prospects UM wants, including cornerback Al Blades Jr., defensive end Nik Bonitto and cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. The other semifinal is Jacksonville-Lee at Tampa-Plant.
In Class 6A, Miami-Carol City and its pair of Miami commits (linebacker De’Andre Wilder, receiver Kevaughn Dingle) visit Punta Gorda-Charlotte. The other semifinal is Lakeland-Lake Gibson at Navarre.
In Class 5A, offensive linemen Slaton and Herbert and their Plantation-American Heritage team hosts Tampa-Jesuit. Heritage also has five-star 2018 cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr., whom UM covets, and cornerback Marco Wilson, a UF commit who once considered UM. The other semifinal is Ponte Vedra at Green Cove Springs-Clay.
Next week’s state title games are Cocoa vs. Jacksonville-Bolles (4A), Hollywood-Chaminade vs. Jacksonville-Trinity Christian (3A), Jacksonville-University Christian vs. Hialeah-Champangnat (2A) and Baker vs. Pahokee (1A). More on those next week.
* Finally, have a look at the junior-year highlight film of UM’s four-star cornerback commit Trajan Bandy. He’s smallish (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) but no doubt plays with the “violence” Manny Diaz is looking for.