On Wednesday, the signing day two-week warning bell will sound. Feb. 1 is almost here.
That, of course, means the Hurricanes are in for a frenzied final stretch. They hosted a group of recruits last weekend, and have the next two weekends booked as they try to add to a class of 20 commits. UM’s group is rated among the highest in the country – No. 13 by ESPN, No. 14 by Rivals and No. 16 by 247Sports – but like all coaches, Mark Richt is looking for more.
Let’s set the stage by assessing at how Miami is faring at positions of need. First up: the wideouts.
The situation: Miami loses a top playmaker in Stacy Coley and a solid depth receiver in Malcolm Lewis. Ahmmon Richards should be one of the ACC’s best, and the Hurricanes hope Braxton Berrios, Dionte Mullins and Lawrence Cager complement him. But Miami is in search of everything here: more bodies, more speed, more ability (“More wins. Notice how I said more,” DJ Khaled might think, if he were reading this).
Who’s coming: One commit – three-star Evidence Njoku – with a promising future. Njoku visited UM last weekend and posted this photo with his brother. David Njoku is 6-foot-4, and though he’s leaning, he appears small next to his broad-shouldered sibling. Njoku (6-6) could compete for reps immediately, though his brother redshirted and developed into a star tight end.
Who they’re chasing: The Hurricanes will be in good shape if they sign two of the following: Devonta Smith, Mike Harley, Jordan Pouncey and Jeff Thomas. There’s also transfer Corey Holmes, who could be a solid post-signing day option.
Smith (6-1, 160), who was recently elevated to five-star status by 247Sports, will visit Miami on Jan. 27. This weekend is he at Alabama, which is considered the favorite to sign him. Last weekend Smith – who once committed to Richt when he was Georgia’s coach – saw hometown LSU and took a low-key trip to Florida State.
Harley (5-10, 160) is a four-star West Virginia commit who has wavered, and now there’s this: according to Canesport, CBS will carry his decision live on signing day. Harley visited UM last weekend with his parents, who reportedly want him to stay home (he plays at Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas).
Pouncey (6-3, 186), a three-star former Notre Dame commit from Winter Park High, visited UM last weekend and told Canesport it was “a perfect 10.” He also posted a lot of photos. He will see Texas this weekend and Tennessee on Jan. 27.
Four-star Thomas (5-10, 170) earned MVP honors at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 1, catching three passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He has the speed Miami is after, and will visit Miami this weekend. He told Rivals that hometown Illinois is his leader, and he plans to visit Oregon and Tennessee.
Holmes, who is transferring from Notre Dame, told Canesport he’s “pretty optimistic” a Miami offer is coming, but understands it will likely depend on how many wideouts UM signs. Holmes played at St. Thomas Aquinas.
Final thoughts: Miami likely needs at least two of these players to call signing day a success, unless different options emerge down the stretch. … Pulling Smith from Alabama and LSU would be a major coup, and could propel Miami’s class into top-10 range. … The Hurricanes need to build numbers here, since they’ll have just six scholarship receivers during spring practices (and it’s unclear if Cager, coming off an ACL tear, will be able to participate). … Not only will it be tough to judge Miami’s wideouts in spring ball, it’ll be tough to get an early read on the numerous contenders for the QB1 spot and the starting spots in the secondary, since they’ll often be defending walk-ons in scrimmages. … Richards’ success in year one shows that talent is worth the wait. He didn’t arrive until May, and had the best freshman season of any receiver in UM history. No doubt his success helps recruiting.