Fall practices begin in about five weeks, but nearly every incoming freshman the Hurricanes signed is on campus and working out with the team.
A few came to UM in January and participated in spring practice, and many more started summer classes mid-May and last weekend. Highly regarded wide receivers Ahmmon Richards and Sam Bruce are in the mix with linebackers Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney, running back Travis Homer and others.
Tell us which true freshman will shine brightest this fall:
Update: UM said Sunday evening the seven players named in our original report had registered for Summer “A” classes, and also confirmed the arrival of three others: Texas graduate transfer safety Adrian Colbert, running back Crispian Atkins (a 2015 graduate of Plant City-Durant High) and wide receiver Malik Mayweather (a redshirt junior who first practiced with UM in 2013). The latter two are walk-ons.
Two of the top-rated players in Miami’s incoming freshman class, running back Travis Homer and wide receiver Ahmmon Richards, were among several freshmen who arrived on campus this weekend to start summer classes Monday — and thus be a part of UM’s offseason conditioning program.
Also checking in for UM’s Summer “A” session, according to program sources (and in some cases, further confirmed via Twitter): tight end Michael Irvin II, safetyRomeo Finley, junior college wide receiverDayall Harris and offensive linemanTre Johnson.
Homer (5-11, 195), from Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, is a redshirt candidate in a backfield that has junior Joe Yearby, redshirt juniorGus Edwards and sophomore Mark Waltonvying for carries and junior Trayone Gray as a depth option. Homer was a four-star recruit rated as high as the No. 6 running back in the 2016 class by 247Sports. He registered 1,529 total yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior.
Richards (6-1, 175), from Wellington High, is expected to play immediately, since Miami doesn’t have much depth at wide receiver. Senior Stacy Coley and junior Braxton Berrios ended spring as the top performers of UM’s five scholarship wideouts, though Coley missed time with a hamstring injury. Richards, a four-star prospect rated No. 13 nationally by 247, was immensely productive at Wellington. Over his final two seasons, he caught 126 passes for 2,461 yards and 35 touchdowns. With added size and strength, he could become one of UM’s top receiving options.
Harris (6-3, 192) will also have plenty of opportunity to play. He is a former four-star Mississippi signee who spent last season at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. He will be a redshirt sophomore this fall.
Irvin (6-2, 237) checked in Sunday morning before heading to graduation ceremonies at Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas. He was accompanied by his father, Hurricanes and Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. The younger Irvin is a three-star recruit who will likely redshirt; tight end is one of UM’s most loaded position groups.
Finley (6-1, 198) and Johnson (6-7, 280) are candidates to redshirt.
Five players — quarterback Jack Allison, defensive end Patrick Bethel, linebackers Zach McCloud, Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman — enrolled in January and participated in spring drills. The three linebackers in particular drew heaps of praise from coaches and are expected to make an impact this fall.
Projected to arrive for Summer “B,” which begins June 27: wide receivers Sam Bruce and Dionte Mullins, tight end Jovani Haskins, defensive tackle Tyreic Martin, cornerback Malek Young and safeties Cedrick Wright and Jeff James.
With spring practices over and the NCAA’s recruiting calendar permitting coaches to visit high schools, Richt’s staff will go all-out recruiting for the next month. Next week, they will blanket Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, then the state of Florida, then visit select out-of-state prospects.
UM’s recruiting staff has been spending a “massive amount of time getting film all around the tri-county area, all around the state, all around the country by position,” Richt said on WQAM. “You get your coaches to study film, trying to decide a pecking order, is this guy a take, is this a guy we’ve got to go see in person, is this a guy we’ve got to go see in camp. There’s different categories that we have. Then we go out there and decide, who are we going to see?
“We’re obviously going to see everybody in the state, we’re going to see everybody in the tri-county area. But when you get out of state you’ve got to kind of cherry-pick certain guys by position. We’ve got a lot of people in-house, in our recruiting department, setting up and teaming up with the coaches to study the film, make decisions and get on the run and go get ‘em.”
UM’s recruiting class, ranked No. 3 nationally and first in the ACC by 247Sports’ composite ratings, has 15 commits. The top-rated is offensive tackle Navaughn Donaldson of Miami Central. Other highly-ranked recruits include running back Robert Burns (Miami-Gulliver Prep), defensive end Jonathan Ford (Fort Lauderdale-Dillard), quarterback N’Kosi Perry (Ocala-Vanguard) and athlete Christopher Henderson (Miami-Columbus).
Notice a trend? All but one of those players are from South Florida. Richt and Al Golden don’t have a lot in common resume-wise, but all Miami coaches fight the same battle to convince the best local players to stay home.
“There may be 150-200 Division I football players in the tri-county area,” Richt said. “Well, we’ve got space for 20, 25 a year, maybe, at the most. If you can get 20 out of 150, you’ve got to make sure you get the right ones. You can’t keep them all. It’s impossible. There’s going to be some great players that leave the area because there’s so many of them. We’ve got to do a good job of identifying who we want and going after them and loving them up and showing them that every dream they have in life, they can have right here at this university.”
Richt said UM will host “an array of camps” in June — including one for players in the seventh grade.
A partial schedule (more details here) includes high school 7-on-7 events June 9-11 and 16-18; an all-ages camp June 13-15; kicking camps June 12 and 19 (run separately by instructors Brandon Kornblue and Chris Sailer); and, interestingly, a series of age-divided camps for rising seventh- and eighth-graders (June 20), ninth- and 10th-graders (June 21), 11th-graders (June 22) and 12th-graders (June 23).
Elsewhere, Richt praised Brad Kaaya, as he has been doing, and reiterated the Hurricanes are thin at wide receiver and defensive back, and at running back, “it’ll definitely be by committee.” On the offensive line, he said, “I don’t know if we have a boatload” of reliable players, but “if we stay healthy, we’ll be OK.” He said UM’s interior defensive line and linebacking corps have the most depth on the team.
Asked about his depth chart post-spring, Richt said players who performed well in the spring might begin the fall as starters. “There’s a lot of surprises that happen this time of year,” Richt said. “We’re going to see who works, who wants to really learn it and prove he’s ready.”
Speaking to his followers on the video streaming app Periscope last month, Sam Brucesaid his first goal at Miami was to become a freshman All-American. He said he had dreams of scoring touchdowns and and hearing Hurricanes fans yell his last name.
“I can’t wait ‘til I’m at the ‘U’,” he said.
Despite a speedbump, it appears he’s still on his way.
A report from Canesport said Bruce, a star wide receiver recruit, quickly found a new school after leaving Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas last month. Bruce enrolled “almost immediately” at Cooper City-Westlake Prep and is doing well in his classes, the report said.
The football coach and athletics director at Westlake, Jerome Harriott, is the brother of Bruce’s former coach at Aquinas, RogerHarriott. Jerome Harriott told Canesport
Bruce, 18, left Aquinas on Feb. 16 after an incident that allegedly involved him holding a gun in a photo. The Miami Herald reported the photo was part of a dispute with an older, male former Aquinas student over Bruce’s ex-girlfriend. No charges were filed in the matter. Bruce’s mother, Trayce Wilkerson, said she withdrew him from Aquinas after the incident to avoid further trouble.
A UM spokesperson told the Post last month the school anticipated no issues that would prevent Bruce from enrolling this summer. Wednesday, the spokesperson said UM “had no comment on the matter.”
Bruce, a 5-foot-8, 180-pound four-star recruit, was rated No. 7 among wide receivers in the 2016 recruiting class by Rivals, No. 8 by ESPN, No. 24 by Scout and No. 31 by 247.
Coach MarkRicht, who convinced Bruce to uphold his commitment to the Hurricanes despite a strong push from Ohio State, touted Bruce’s talent during his signing day press conference.
“Very explosive when it comes to change of direction, quickness, toughness,” Richt said. “Very well put-together guy, very strong young man. Very good ball skills. A lot of people would say he’s more of a slot receiver, but he can get on the edge as well with his speed.”
Miami’s 2016 signing class consists mostly of players who shined at in-state high schools.
Headlining the all-state lists, which were released over the last two weeks, were first-teamers Ahmmon Richards of Wellington High, Jeff James and Shaquille Quarterman. Ten of the 16 Florida-based players the Hurricanes signed were all-state selections.
The teams are chosen based on individual performance, with some weight given to team performance and outside recognition from other newspapers and websites in the state.
However, they are not always a direct reflection of which players are going to shine in college. For example, the highly touted players at powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas – like Ohio State defensive lineman signee Nick Bosa and UM wide receiver signee Sam Bruce, considered by recruiting analysts to be among the best players at their position nationwide – didn’t make any of the Class 7A all-state teams (not even honorable mention).
On the other hand, Aquinas has won six state titles in the last nine years, so players at that school get plenty of spotlight time from statewide media covering high schools — in addition to plenty of love from college recruiters.
The only Florida-based 2016 Hurricanes signees who didn’t make all-state were Bruce, quarterback Jack Allison, receiver Dionte Mullins, safety Cedrick Wright, offensive lineman Tre Johnson and tight end Michael Irvin II. Mullins, who sat out his senior season because of academic issues, and Allison are consensus four-star, All-American recruits; the latter three are rated as three-star recruits. Miami’s two out-of-state players, New Jersey-based tight end Jovani Haskins and Alabama-based defensive tackle Tyreic Martin, are three-star recruits who did not make all-state.
The freshmen-to-be who made Florida all-state teams before coming to UM:
The Hurricanes’ search for ready-to-play cornerbacks might take them to a school 2,700 miles away, for a player who grew up two hours down the road.
The prospect involved is J.C. Jackson, who played at Immokalee High and spent last year at Riverside (Calif.) City College.
Miami is interested in Jackson, a program source told the Post. However, there are conflicting reports about the eligibility of the 5-foot-11, 196-pound redshirt freshman. The website 247Sports reported last month he is “working to become eligible” for August, and may not be available until December. More recently, the Miami Herald reported Jackson will be eligible this fall.
As of now — ostensibly because of those concerns — Jackson doesn’t have a scholarship offer, the source said.
If things work out – if they offer him, if he chooses them, and he’s ready to go – he would be a significant boost.
The Hurricanes’ roster enters the spring with five scholarship cornerbacks, two with meaningful experience (senior-to-be Corn Elder and sophomore Sheldrick Redwine, who are expected to start). The others (sophomores Michael Jackson and Terrance Henley and redshirt sophomore Ryan Mayes) were mainly special-teamers last year.
Jackson, an Under Armour All-American and four-star recruit at Immokalee, was pursued by former Miami coach Al Golden in 2014 but instead signed with Florida. He redshirted as a freshman because of a shoulder injury but was expected to start in 2015. The 247Sports affiliate covering UF, citing sources close to the program, called him “one of the best pure athletes to come through Florida in years.”
His time as a Gator ended last spring, after he was arrested on three felony counts of armed robbery and a felony burglary charge stemming from an April 18 incident in Gainesville. He was subsequently dismissed from the team.
Jackson was cleared of those charges last November.
It wasn’t the first time Jackson’s non-football activity made headlines. In Dec. 2014, he reportedly sustained “minor injuries” after he and another college football player were grazed by bullets in a shooting in Immokalee.
In addition to Miami, Jackson also has drawn interest from South Florida, which he visited last month. Canesport reported Arkansas and South Carolina are also in the mix.
“I wouldn’t mind going to Miami,” Jackson said. “It’s back home.”
Miami has two former Gators on scholarship: senior punter Justin Vogel and defensive lineman Gerald Willis, who sat out last year after transferring and will be a redshirt sophomore.
Junior college prospect DayallHarris, who committed late last week, could be just what he is looking for.
Harris, who plans to arrive on campus in May and compete for playing time immediately.
“Right now [Richt] is just trying to rebuild,” Harris told WJTV in his hometown of Jackson, Miss. “He came into kind of a messed-up situation. He had only five scholarship receivers. … Usually a school has 10 or more.”
Indeed, Miami returns senior-to-be Stacy Coley (689 yards, four touchdowns on 47 catches) but loses approximately 40 percent of its receiving yards from 2015. Graduating seniors Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters accounted for 1,319 yards and six touchdowns. Oft-suspended sophomore Tyre Brady (112 yards, one touchdown) elected to transfer.
Aside from Coley, promising talent Lawrence Cager is expected to make noise this fall alongside veterans Braxton Berrios and Malcolm Lewis. UM also signed three talented recruits (Sam Bruce, Ahmmon Richards, Dionte Mullins) and boasts several pass-catching backs and tight ends. However, depth is still lacking.
Thus, the prospect of playing time was a major draw for Harris (6-foot-3, 192 pounds), who played last season at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in his hometown.
A former four-star recruit, he signed with Mississippi in 2014 and competed for playing time in fall practices but wound up redshirting. He was suspended later in the season after what local media referred to as “several minor incidents.” He did not travel for Ole Miss’ appearance in the Peach Bowl that season.
He will be a redshirt sophomore this fall and have three years of eligibility at UM. He wore No. 83 at Ole Miss, a number not worn by any current Hurricanes player.
Harris, whose first name is pronounced DAY-all, played at Jackson (Miss.) Callaway High. He had 42 catches for 564 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior and registered 1,034 total all-purpose yards. He also played basketball – winning state titles in 2012 and 2013 – and ran track.
He apparently likes the tradition at Miami, as evidenced by his choice of attire for an on-camera interview: a throwback-style Hurricanes jersey with Michael Irvin’s No. 47 on it. That wasn’t all he was excited about.
“I love the coaches. I love the campus,” he said. “It’s kind of like a tropical rainforest or something.”
Happy New Year! We’re back from vacation and refreshed. As a way of refocusing, let’s assess the most pressing issues the Hurricanes will sort out in the next few weeks …
What will the rest of Mark Richt’s staff look like?
(updated Monday evening with new hires)
The newly minted Hurricanes coach has announced his hire of a defensive coordinator (Manny Diaz), a running backs coach/co-offensive coordinator (ThomasBrown), a defensive line coach (Craig Kuligowski) and a special teams coordinator (ToddHartley). He also brought on an offensive assistant (his son, JonRicht), to fill an unspecified role.
The positions that appear to be open: quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and linebackers. Richt has some flexibility with these spots.
Richt, who has stated his intention to call plays and work with quarterbacks, could name himself quarterbacks coach or use a graduate assistant for the role. He could retain wide receivers coach Kevin Beard, whose future is unclear. He could give additional responsibility to Diaz (who has coached linebackers before) or keep Al Golden‘s linebackers coach, Hurlie Brown.
Richt’s hires to this point signify a near-total housecleaning of Golden’s staff. Those who won’t be back include offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Coley (now Georgia’s receivers coach, according to FOX Sports), defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, offensive line coach Art Kehoe, defensive line coach Randy Melvin, outside linebackers coach Kareem Brown and defensive backs coach Paul Williams (hired at Illinois). Additionally, multiple outlets reported longtime strength coach Andreu Swasey will not be back. It’s possible running backs coach Tim “Ice” Harris, whose position has been filled, could serve as a staff member.
The NCAA allows a program up to nine assistant coaches and two graduate assistants to recruit and participate in game-day coaching. There is no limit on non-coaching staff members.
Is anyone else leaving early?
Junior cornerback ArtieBurnsdeclared for the NFL draft after Miami’s bowl game. Two others, junior cornerback CornElder and redshirt junior safety RayshawnJenkins, also announced their plans to return. That leaves two players in question.
If they are leaving, junior wide receiver Stacy Coley and redshirt sophomore linebacker Al-Quadin Muhammad must state their intentions by the Jan. 18 underclassmen deadline. While it’s possible the deadline may pass without either doing anything – meaning they would be returning for another year – it’s more likely they will let it be known via an Instagram post, as Elder and Jenkins did.
How will the recruiting class come together?
Lot to watch here with Miami’s 2016 class, which is currently rated 18th nationally (third in the ACC) by 247Sports and 22nd (fourth) by Rivals.
Richt is after some of the top recruits in the nation, a select few former Georgia commits and several other players targeted by the previous staff. We’ll have more on this in the coming days. Business really picks up Jan. 14, when the NCAA’s dead period ends and coaches can once again visit recruits, and vice versa.
What we know now:
Three-star running back Jawon Hamilton decommitted Monday, after he was not contacted by UM’s new staff. The Hurricanes have four-star Travis Homer (Oxbridge Academy) in their class and are chasing four-star Devwah Whaley, a former Georgia commit, and according to Rivals, trying to lure former UM commit Zack Moss back into the fold. Florida State pledge Amir Rasul, a four-star prospect formerly committed to UM, told Rivals he is interested in Miami again.
Quarterback JackAllison, linebackers ShaquilleQuarterman, ZachMcCloud and MichaelPinckney and defensive end PatrickBethel plan to enroll at UM before Jan. 11, when classes begin at UM.
Quarterman and cornerback TylerByrd are playing in the Army All-American Bowl, which is Saturday at 1 p.m. (NBC). They will play on the East team with receiver AhmmonRichards (Wellington High) and defensive back JamelCook, both of whom are interested in Miami. Cook is currently committed to Florida State. Richards is uncommitted.
Allison, Bethel and UM-committed receivers Sam Bruce and Dionte Mullins played in the Under Armour All-America Game last Saturday. StateoftheU has a tweet-based recap here. The standout was Mullins, who made a ridiculous catch:
It was the first game of the season for Mullins, who was academically ineligible at Miami-Gulliver Prep as a senior.
Are the basketball teams really this good?
After the men beat Syracuse on Saturday, they improved to 12-1 (1-0 ACC). They are ranked No. 12 in the AP poll and No. 11 in the coaches poll. They are a four-seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology, a veteran group that has the makings of an ACC championship contender. Games this month at No. 5 Virginia and home against No. 15 Duke will help prove or disprove that theory. UM’s next tilt is Saturday against Florida State (5 p.m., ESPN2).
UM ranks 16th in offensive efficiency and 21st in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. Leading scorer Sheldon McClellan (15.9 points) has shot better than 50 percent in eight of his 13 games and leads ACC guards in shooting percentage (54.2). He is sixth among Division I guards in that category. Sophomore guard Ja’Quan Newton has been a spark off the bench, scoring 12 points per game in 21.8 minutes. Center Tonye Jekiri (8.8 points, 9.5 rebounds) has been his usual reliable self. Point guard Angel Rodriguez (11.8 points, 3.9 assists) has nights where he can’t buy a bucket, but is a major factor on defense (1.77 steals, third in ACC).
The women, ranked No. 22 last week, are 13-2 (1-1 ACC). Their losses are to No. 4 Baylor (by seven points) and to Virginia, which is 11-4. They can make noise against Jan. 24 against No. 15 FSU and a Jan. 28 game at Virginia Tech, which is currently 13-1.