Most of Miami’s top-10 freshman class signed early — 19 players so far, with a few more on the way next month — and 10 are expected to enroll by the Jan. 16 start of classes. That will let them compete in early offseason conditioning and spring drills.
What UM coaches told us about the offensive signees expected to enroll early (click on names for our previous profile stories, and click here for a series on the defensive players):
Enrolling early will give QB Jarren Williams the chance to compete with returning starter Malik Rosier, redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry and others for the top job. Mark Richt said the four-star recruit, listed at 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, may get a little bigger — “He’ll probably be a 215-pounder, would be my guess, before he’s done” — and “moves well, he throws it well, he’s a very strong student of the game,” Richt said. “We think he’s a mature kid. We think he will come in and compete well.”
Quarterbacks coach Jon Richt called Willians “an athletic guy, a smart kid” who has “all the attributes of a quarterback that you’d ever want.” His mobility and arm strength won’t be an issue.
“He can run,” Jon Richt said. “He’s good side to side. He can step up and move in the pocket. He can extend plays if he needs to. Our run game with the quarterback he’d be able to do with no problem, and maybe bring a different attribute to it than even we even had this year.”
Rosier, he said, is “more of a straight-ahead” runner who “might be able to take some shots.” Williams and Perry, he said, are shiftier.
As for his arm, Williams has “done a great job of standing in the pocket and ripping it,” Jon Richt said. “I think he’s definitely a guy, who, like Malik – Malik has done a great job of standing there and throwing it when he needs to throw it; and if the play breaks down or if it’s a quarterback design where he could end up pulling it and running, he’ll do a good job of it. That’s kind of our system and that’s who we’ll be and the guys that we’ll go after.”
“I would be very surprised if he’s not ready when the time comes,” Brown said. “He is a workaholic. He’s not afraid of competition. He is a film room and a study junkie.”
Brown had plenty to say about Lingard (6-0, 195), a five-star prospect and the consensus No. 2 running back in the country. Rivals rated him 10th among all prospects.
“Obviously, everything is off of potential,” Brown said. “You never know until a guy gets here. But based on what you see in high school, he’s a phenomenal football player, probably even better person and has the right makeup. He’s not just talented, he works like it. He came to Paradise Camp two years in a row. He’s a five-star recruit. He didn’t have to come and work out.
“He came out and worked every single rep, went full speed and was at the front of every single line. I watched him play in person (at Orange City-University High). He’s very tough with the ball in his hands, but the guy lined up and played every single snap at tailback – didn’t have a backup. He played every single snap on punt team, ran down and made tackles. He also started on kickoff, would run down and make tackles on kickoff. He’s a very unselfish, team-oriented type guy, which is hard to find these days with elite players. Loyalty was a big thing with him. He was recruited by everyone in the country, and once he committed (last February), he didn’t step foot on any other campus.
“Running-wise, he’s a slasher, as far as a one-cut downhill-type guy. He can make you miss in space but he’s not a big wiggle guy, which he doesn’t have to be, because he’s built the right way. Sometimes the wiggle guys waste too much motion at this level.
“He’s an elite track guy in high school. He’s as tough as they come. He can beat you inside or outside. Speed wise he was a two-time 110-meter hurdles state champion, 300-meter state champion in the hurdles, which is hard for a guy his size. Back to back years. Sophomore and junior years.”
UM also signed four-star back Camron Davis and three-star Realus George, the country’s top-rated fullback. Lingard, however, is the centerpiece of the class and a key addition to an offense that lost Mark Walton to the NFL Draft. He will compete with returning starter Travis Homer for carries. It would surprise no one if he wound up the No. 1 guy by the end of the year. Brown called Walton “one of the few alpha males we had on our offense,” and said all three running back signees have the “same mentality.”
WR Brian Hightower was a standout in the recent Army All-American Bowl, catching four passes for 50 yards. Hightower’s size (6-3, 195) and speed made him a consensus four-star recruit and one player that excites receivers coach Ron Dugans (UM’s top wideout signee, Mark Pope, arrives in the summer and if he lives up to his billing, could be a starter along with Ahmmon Richards and Jeff Thomas).
But it’s easy to imaging Hightower getting into the rotation, especially if upperclassmen Dayall Harris and Darrell Langham don’t take control of the “X” receiver spot, and fellow big man Evidence Njoku (sat out as a freshman with a knee injury) doesn’t emerge.
“[Hightower] brings size,” Dugans said. “He brings strength. To be that size, he’s athletic, good route-runner. Good ball skills. We need his length. Good kid on the field, good kid off the field.”
WR Daquris “Dee” Wiggins is another wideout with good size (6-3, 195), though he doesn’t come as highly regarded. He was rated somewhere between No. 66 and No. 76 among receivers by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports. “He doesn’t always look pretty, but has good size and speed,” read ESPN’s scouting report. Can he stand out in a deep receiving corps?
“Wiggins wants to prove to everybody, ‘I don’t have all these stars but I’m the best receiver in the country,'” Dugans said. “At Paradise (Camp last summer), he proved he’s a really good football player. He ran track this offseason. Got faster on track.
“He’s a good route-runner. Got good quicks. Is willing to block. I want guys that can block, too. I like what Wiggins brings to the table. Every time I see him, he gets taller and taller. He’s got really good body control.
“I think he can be a really good natural receiver.”
OT John Campbell isn’t a vocal presence, offensive line coach Stacy Searels said, but was impressed when he watched him during his days at Orlando-Dr. Phillips High.
“John is a really good player,” said Searels, who plans to start Campbell (6-5, 295) at tackle. “I’ve worked with him at camp, watched him at his spring practice and watched him in games. They won a state championship this year, he was a leader on his football team.
“He’s a very quiet kid but when he comes to practices, games, he was a finisher. He’s a tough kid, has a lot of upside. … I think [he] is going to be a great player for us.”
Miami doesn’t have a host of tackles on the roster. Senior-to-be Tyree St. Louis could take over for graduating Kc McDermott on the left side, which could open the right side. Redshirt freshman Kai-Leon Herbert trained at left tackle last year and is likely to get a crack at starting. This spring, Campbell is likely to compete for reps with fellow early enrollee Delone Scaife, several upperclassmen who haven’t panned out (George Brown Jr., Tre Johnson, Bar Milo) and recent signees Herbert, Zalon’tae Hillery and Zach Dykstra.
OL Delone “DJ” Scaife saw playing time at right tackle and right guard in the Under Armour All-America Game. His height (6-3, 315) would seem to make him a better fit inside, but Rivals rated him as high as No. 6 among tackles.
“When I first started recruiting him, I thought he’d be a center/guard-type player,” Searels told Canesport. “But he has really long arms. I think he can play all five positions which makes him really valuable.”
He said both Campbell and Scaife are “really good players and really good people people that are not high-maintenance guys when it comes to recruiting. It was fun to get to know them and their families.”
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