Miami Hurricanes’ Demetrius Jackson named to NCAA rulemaking council

FSU quarterback Deondre Francois runs from Miami's Demetrius Jackson and Chad Thomas. (Getty Images)
FSU quarterback Deondre Francois runs from Miami’s Demetrius Jackson and Chad Thomas. (Getty Images)

[DT Jenkins dismissed from team]

[Coaches talk Perry, Weldon and QB race]

[WR signees will help offense — and defense]

[All Hurricanes recruiting bios | Video: recapping NSD]

Miami defensive end Demetrius Jackson has a vote to help improve the futures of major-college athletes across the country.

Jackson, who will be a redshirt junior this fall, was one of three ACC players chosen to participate in the NCAA’s Division I rulemaking process.

The other ACC players are Duke’s Madison Granger (track and field/cross country) and North Carolina State’s Harli Hubbard (softball).

As members of the ACC Autonomy Committee, “they are invited to attend various ACC governance meetings and participate as members of the voting delegation at the 2018 NCAA Convention,” according to a press release.

That activity falls under the purview of the NCAA’s Division I Council, which will be chaired the next two years by UM Athletic Director Blake James. 

Faced with widespread calls to improve the conditions in which NCAA athletes play, study and live, the NCAA in Aug. 2014 voted to establish the council to let college administrators, faculty and players meet and solve related issues. A group from the big-money conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12, collectively known as the Power Five — meets to change rules specific to those conferences and their 65 schools.

Jackson, like Granger and Hubbard, is on Miami’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). UM said he logged more community service hours than any other athlete, in any sport. He was named the football team’s Community Service Man of the Year and earned the ACC Top Six Award for Service. He participates in 5,000 Role Models, a non-profit group in Miami, which serves as an in-school dropout prevention program.

On the field, he has played in 17 games, starting six, and last year recorded career bests in tackles (28), tackles for loss (6.0), sacks (2.5), pass break-ups (4) and quarterback hurries (2).

“To be selected as one of three student-athletes in the ACC to participate as an NCAA autonomy representative is truly a fantastic honor,” Jackson said in a press release. “I look forward to sharing the voice of other student-athletes throughout the ACC, while enhancing their overall collegiate experience. I look forward to the work ahead with my fellow ACC representatives.”

 

 

Miami Hurricanes dismiss DT Courtel Jenkins

UM isn't sure if Courtel Jenkins (left) will be back -- he may transfer -- but standout freshman Joe Jackson returns. (Getty Images)
Courtel Jenkins (left) celebrates during the Russell Athletic Bowl. (Getty Images)

The Hurricanes announced Friday they dismissed defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins for a violation of team rules.

Jenkins, who is entering his senior year, had been in trouble multiple times during his UM career.

Coach Mark Richt suspended him for a Nov. 12, 2016 game at Virginia for undisciplined play, including personal fouls for after-the-whistle infractions. UM’s previous staff sent him home from the 2015 Sun Bowl for what it said was academic reasons.

And while Jenkins, according to sources, explored a transfer earlier this offseason, defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said Wednesday that Jenkins had committed himself to the program.

“He’s a Cane,” Kuligowski said. “That was his answer to me. ‘I’m a Cane. Why would I leave my senior year?’ He’s here. He’s 100 percent.”

Kuligowski said he was pleased with how Jenkins finished his season, after his disciplinary issues. Jenkins played the best ball of his career in UM’s final three games. “All these guys started from scratch with me; they’re still going to make a lot of improvements,” Kuligowski said.

The 6-foot-2, 320-pound native of Jersey City, N.J., was disruptive and stout in the middle. He broke up a pass in UM’s Nov. 26 win over Duke and picked up his only sack of the season in Miami’s 31-14 win over No. 16 West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

It’s unclear what he did to warrant a dismissal.

In 34 games, Jenkins registered 54 tackles (7.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries, 1 pass break-up and 1 forced fumble.

Jenkins’ departure hurts the depth behind standout starters Kendrick Norton and R.J. McIntosh, both of whom will be juniors.

Kuligowski said they were “easily two of the best tackles in the ACC” last year, but UM would like to lighten their workload to help make them even more effective. Norton played approximately 60 percent of UM’s defensive snaps, while McIntosh played 70 percent. UM would rather that be about 50.

It’s unclear if redshirt junior Gerald Willis — another player who has been in UM’s doghouse — will be ready for spring drills, as he is rehabbing from what Richt called a postseason “clean-up” surgery on his knee. Kuligowski is high on him.

“That kid, when they snap the football, he’s ready to go,” Kuligowski said. “He’s a playmaker. I like him a lot. If we’re getting him to play, I want him on my side. I know that.”

He also likes senior Anthony Moten, “a kid that we’re finally finding a home, a base for him, where he can be comfortable and succeed. … I think toward the end of the year, he was really starting to come around.” Redshirt freshman Tyreic Martin (knee injury last August; he needs to get stronger, Kuligowski said) and redshirt sophomore Ryan Fines are the other returners.

The Hurricanes will add Fort Lauderdale-Dillard three-star recruit Jon Ford (6-5, 275) in the summer. On Wednesday, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz spoke highly of him.

“He’s exactly what we envision,” Diaz said, “the way we have set the tone of what our defensive line plays like at Miami and what Kendrick Norton and R.J. and those other guys put on tape this year, we think that Jon’s the next guy in line for that.”

Including its returning players and 24-member signing class, the Hurricanes would have four scholarship spots open on their roster. Coaches have expressed a wish to add another running back or defensive back, among other positions. Given the fact four of its seven scholarship defensive tackles will either graduate or become eligible for the NFL draft after next season, UM may look to add another one there, too.

With ‘True Canes,’ Miami defense wants to ‘blow down anybody’s door

Miami-Columbus High cornerback Trajan Bandy, one of UM's top-rated commits, flashes a smile at a recent Hurricanes game. (247Sports)
Miami-Columbus High cornerback Trajan Bandy, one of UM’s top-rated signees, flashes a smile at a 2016 Hurricanes game. (247Sports)

[Coaches talk Perry, Weldon and QB race]

[WR signees will help offense — and defense]

[All Hurricanes recruiting bios]

[How did Miami do with its Signing Day 7?]

[Video: breaking down the whole class, 2017 lineup]

Getting heart-and-soul Hurricanes was a major focus for the 2017 recruiting class, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said.

Guys like Trajan Bandy.

“He’s a pure-bred Cane,” Diaz said. “If you cut him open, he bleeds orange and green. He aches for this program.”

Though he’s 5-foot-9, Bandy “plays every game like it’s the national championship game,” Diaz said. “His sense of urgency and his toughness and his tackling is off the charts. Every week he puts something great on tape.”

Bandy, DeeJay Dallas and others drew attention for their recruiting efforts on social media, but they helped their coaches build the class from the inside.

“The kids will talk to us and say, ‘Coach, I’m not sure this guy fits. I’m not sure this guy is a pure ‘Cane,’” Diaz said. “That’s why sometimes, on the outside, it looks like it’s fantasy football and you add this guy with this many stars, your team will get better. That’s not always the case. To me, to succeed at UM, for us to be great, you have to understand the dynamics of what it means to wear this uniform. That’s what we’ve harped on the last 12 months with our current roster, so it was just natural that we took that into recruiting.”

* Another lifelong UM fan, Homestead native Jhavonte Dean was the only junior college player Miami recruited. He may have been a diehard Cane growing up, but he was at one time committed to Alabama.

He will play two seasons for UM. “We have an eye on the 2018 class, which is outstanding at that position, and we did not want to bog it down necessarily with all young guys there,” Diaz said. South Florida defensive backs of UM interest include five-star Patrick Surtain Jr., four-stars Josh Jobe, Gilbert Frierson (both committed to UM), Al Blades Jr. (UM legacy), Asante Samuel Jr. and Tyson Campbell.

“We wanted to have somebody that would come in and a little bit like what Adrian Colbert did a year ago, but maybe have two years to play,” Diaz said. “And there may still be room for another player like that in the back end.”

Miami loses Colbert and Corn Elder at cornerback.

* At safety, Miami will lose starters Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter, who cleaned up “hundreds” of mistakes the linebackers made, Diaz said.

But coaches feel they got a mature, physical player in Amari Carter. “I love what he does on the field, but it’s his mental makeup that’s off the charts,” Diaz said. Derrick Smith, 6-3 and 195 pounds, has “really freaky, athletic talent. Great range, great size, very physical.”

Who are Miami’s best four defensive backs, right now? “That is a mystery to us as a coaching staff,” Diaz said. One safety spot seems earmarked for junior-to-be Jaquan Johnson.  

Safeties coach Ephraim Banda said Johnson “has been dying to lead. Even toward the end of Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins’ senior year, you saw the maturity. You saw him wanting to grab the reins. The boys actually kind of let him a little bit, too, and he took off.

“He’s doing it in the weight room and the classroom. Every report from [strength] coach Gus [Felder] is ‘the kid’s a savage, the kid’s a dog, the kid just works, he’s leading.’ … I’m on a mission to find the next Jaquan Johnson.”

His take on Carter: “Amari’s maturity level for his age is remarkable. … We need quote-unquote age, even if it’s not by the number, it’s by the maturity level. He provides that. He’s a businesslike young man.”

Romeo Finley impressed in his special teams role — not unlike Travis Homer on offense — and “proved to us he’ll do anything it takes. He has no issues off the field. He’s all-in. I’m expecting big things from Romeo. Robert Knowles, same thing.”

Diaz said he may give his cornerbacks “a week in the spring” to train at safety, to see if any are better fits. Bigger corners like Michael Jackson, Sheldrick Redwine and Ryan Mayes may work better there. Malek Young (5-9) may not, Diaz said.

* Is there a sleeper among Miami’s defensive class?

“I don’t know if everybody pays attention to what these guys do in their senior years, because so much happens on the camp and combine circuit, but what [defensive end] Jonathan Garvin did as a senior, terrorizing Palm Beach County and what this system and scheme does with defensive linemen, the fact we have him here for spring practice, he’s a pretty exciting guy.” Garvin had a school-record 25 sacks at Lake Worth High.

We’ll have much more about Miami’s defensive line in a post to come.

* At linebacker, Miami recruited a natural Sam (De’Andre Wilder), a Mike (Bradley Jennings Jr.) and a Will (Waynmon Steed). They will almost certainly make an impact on special teams and push the current backups behind standout sophomores-to-be Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud. 

“When I think of Steed, I think of instincts and a guy that plays fast and diagnoses plays, understands what’s happening and shoots the hole,” Diaz said. “[That’s] how we want our linebackers to play. Jennings, the hammer. Super-tough kid, just like his dad, the big hitter, the guy who can control the box and he stout against the run. And Wilder has uncanny speed for a linebacker, DB-type speed in a linebacker’s body, can play in space and shorten the field.

“Where does that help? On special teams, at a minimum. Last year we could barely have 10 guys run down on kickoff without having half our defense out there because it was all we had. This year is the idea of getting back to a fully functioning football team, number-wise. We love where we’re really at with the ’18 class.

“The ’16 class is special, I think everyone sees that. These guys on campus, and with the’17 class we really like. You stack the ’18 class on top of that, and we’re ready to go blow down anybody’s door.”

Miami QB coach on signees N’Kosi Perry, Cade Weldon, QB race

N'Kosi Perry (247)
N’Kosi Perry (247)

[All Hurricanes recruiting bios]

[How did Miami do with its Signing Day 7?]

[Video: breaking down the whole class, 2017 lineup]

If you’re on pins and needles waiting to see who will supplant Brad Kaaya, you’re not alone.

Miami quarterbacks coach Jon Richt will have five players this spring — and one more this summer — who will compete to be the next Hurricanes starting quarterback.

His focus Wednesday was on the two players Miami signed, N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon, the latter of whom is already on campus, having enrolled last month.

Perry (6-foot-4, 185 pounds), rated as high as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback and No. 84 player in the country, is “a tall, more athletic, very loose guy that has a cannon for an arm,” Richt said. “At the same time he’s going to have to learn to control himself, pull himself into a position where he can consistently make the play that should be made.

“He’ll be able to make plays that sometimes shouldn’t have been made that are awesome. But he’s gotta be a guy that makes the consistent play, the play that day in and day in we  need him to make.”

Richt said Weldon (6-3, 205), rated No. 19 among pro-style quarterbacks by Rivals, is a “big, physical kid that is very accurate and will continue to grow into his body and get more athletic as he goes. But he’s going to be a kid that is going to have to be very consistent in who he becomes going forward. When you’re a freshman you’re not going to be consistent because you’re learning.”

And Weldon has a leg up in that process.

“Cade is here and he gets to be hands-on treated,” Richt said. “N’Kosi is going to have to fight for himself a little bit so [we’re] going to see how much he really wants it.”

Weldon will participate in UM’s offseason program and spring drills. Until he arrives on campus — likely in May — Perry won’t be able to build relationships with players, won’t get college-level nutrition and weight training. He also won’t have full access to the playbook; the logic there being he might learn bad habits if he tries to learn it all on his own.

Instead, the Hurricanes will tape a few “install” sessions and send them to Perry. They’ll send him plenty of film to watch. He’ll be able to talk and text and video chat with his coaches as much as possible.  “No limits,” Richt said. “He’s a Miami Hurricane.”

Becoming a presence that commands a room may be a slower process for Perry, whom Richt described as “a quieter guy that is more of an action-based leader.” He did reach out to fellow recruits, Richt said.

Another hurdle Perry must clear: he’s skinny. A nutrition plan is likely in the mail, Richt said.

Richt said Weldon — who has fully recovered from a junior year knee injury, his coaches said — is a tough runner who may be able to go in between the tackles. Perry, meanwhile, is elusive and “can probably hit a home run,” Richt said. “Where Cade might get 20 yards, N’Kosi might get 60.”

That’s a quality Mark Richt was excited about, as much as he enjoyed working with Kaaya. UM’s all-time leading passer had an accurate arm and excellent vision, but couldn’t move like Perry or Weldon. The threat they bring could help Richt’s run-pass option plays work better.

“Sometimes you have QBs who can run, but they’re a runner who can throw decent. These guys are true quarterbacks who happen to be able to run well, which is a nice dynamic to have.” Mark Richt said. “It doesn’t mean you have to have a guy that can run like a deer to be great, because it’s has been happening for years without it. But I do like the fact that they can move.”

That doesn’t mean either has the job. Incumbent backups Malik Rosier and Evan Shirreffs, along with redshirted former four-star recruit Jack Allison and even walk-on Vincent Testaverde will get a chance to prove themselves.

Rosier, who will be a redshirt junior, is the only returner with game experience. Shirreffs is “Steady Eddie, very reliable,” Richt said. Allison, a top-10 quarterback nationally in 2016, is a bit of a forgotten man but has talent.

Allison “was young and a little bit immature, a little thin, frail-type guy,” Richt said. “But this past year and this offseason so far he’s done a great job of putting on weight, getting his body right, getting his mind right.

“A lot of kids come in and redshirt and they disappear. They kind of fall off the radar. They run the scout team and that’s what they do. But Jack did a great job of staying within the offense and continuing to learn and grow throughout the year, which is very impressive. So, we’re really excited to see him.”

“The fact that we have five guys who we think can get it done is a huge testament to those guys. There’s not one guy that we’re like, ‘Oh, he’s that much better than anybody else.’ We think every single one of us can go out there and compete and win us a championship.”

But as they grow from recent signees into starter-quality, they’ll be glad Miami’s receiving corps improved.

“It helps,” Richt said. “You know what? The biggest pacifier is a guy you can throw a hitch to and he runs about 80 yards. We like those guys.”

 

 

 

Miami Hurricanes’ WR recruits will impact offense — and defense

Mike Rumph, shown coaching a drill in this image from a UM-produced video, wants his cornerbacks to dominate. (YouTube)
Mike Rumph, shown coaching a drill in this image from a UM-produced video, wants his cornerbacks to dominate. (YouTube)

[All Hurricanes recruiting bios]

[How did Miami do with its Signing Day 7?]

[Video: breaking down the whole class, 2017 lineup]

Hurricanes coaches were celebrating Wednesday when wide receivers Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley put on UM hats with the nation watching. In case you needed it, there’s video proof.

The man who gets to work with them, wide receiver coach Ron Dugans, might not have been the happiest guy in that meeting room.

“I was more of a fan of Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley than anyone,” cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph said Wednesday.

The addition of those two All-American receivers — who have the type of speed and ability that drew scholarship offers from coast to coast — and 6-foot-6 Evidence Njoku added necessary depth to Miami’s receiving corps. Concurrently, they will help test a rebuilding Hurricanes’ secondary, that returns junior Jaquan Johnson and no one else with more than one year of meaningful college experience.

“To have those guys out there every day for the next four years is going to help us,” said Rumph, who played at UM from 1998-2001. “You can imagine – I had Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson and Darryl Jones, guys that got us to be great. I can see it coming again.”

Thomas and Harley should take some of the load off returning freshman All-American Ahmmon Richards in games. Practices, too. Since UM had seven healthy scholarship receivers last year — not all of them possessing great speed — training to face speedy teams was difficult.

“It got so tough because of the numbers last year,” safeties coach Ephraim Banda said. “We couldn’t get challenged. We had to take some of coach Dugans’ main guys and have them run go routes on us so we could get used to the speed of the game. Coach Dugans cleaned up, did a hell of a job and it’s only going to make everyone better.”

That will add another layer of competition to the secondary, which loses star Corn Elder, starting safeties Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins and corner Adrian Colbert. Rumph and Banda expect their recruits (corners Trajan Bandy and Jhavonte Dean, safeties Amari Carter and Derrick Smith) to push returning players.

“The starting spots are up for grabs,” Rumph said. “And with Jeff and Mike Harley and Ahmmon Richards and all the receivers that we have, it’s going to be really good practices where it’s almost like game time in the practices. There are going to be some big battles out there on Greentree.”

Just like the old days, he hopes.

 

Post-Signing Day, Miami Hurricanes still looking for help at running back

Running backs Joe Yearby, Gus Edwards and Mark Walton. (Miami Herald)
Running backs Joe Yearby, Gus Edwards and Mark Walton. Only Walton plans to return to the Hurricanes in 2017. (Miami Herald)

[Profiles of every Hurricanes recruit]

[Miami won more than it lost on Signing Day]

[Video: breaking down the whole class, 2017 lineup]

Offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown said Wednesday that Miami remains on the hunt for help in the backfield.

The Hurricanes are pleased to have starter Mark Walton entering his junior year, but expect to lose two would-be seniors. Joe Yearby declared for the NFL draft and Gus Edwards has expressed a wish to transfer (he is still at UM, but has not been working out with the team, according to a UM source).

Brown hoped to sign another running back to go along with early enrollee Robert Burns, but four-star Anthony McFarland picked hometown Maryland (after reportedly telling both UM and Maryland coaches he was heading to Coral Gables).

The position is a major focus in 2018 recruiting, with Walton a potential candidate to declare early. Five-star back Lorenzo Lingard (Orange City-University) has Miami among his early favorites.

Miami returns Travis Homer, who excelled on special teams as a freshman, and redshirt senior Trayone Gray. They have a combined 36 carries in college, while Yearby and Edwards combined for 512 over the last three years.

“Going from being one of the deepest spots on the team to having two guys leave unexpectedly, it hurts you from a numbers standpoint,” Brown said. “If the guys stay healthy, we will be fine. But that’s a position that takes a lot of pounding and we will look for some graduate transfers and even some high school guys to help fill from a depth standpoint.”

While Yearby has filed paperwork with the NFL, Edwards could technically still come back. UM isn’t counting on that, however. It reached out to one transfer, Clemson’s Tyshon Dye, in recent days.

Staying healthy has been a challenge for Burns (5-foot-11 and 216 pounds). Shoulder and ankle injuries limited him in high school. He had nine carries for 53 yards and a touchdown as a senior, and missed the Under Armour All-American game because of an ankle injury.

“I’ve seen Robert for a couple years,” Brown said. “When I was back in Wisconsin, I remember coming down to see him in person. He’s battled some injuries, which is somewhat of a concern. Still trying to get back to 100 percent healthy. He has all the physical tools. He’s built the right way. Has enough agility. He catches the ball well. I saw it in the summer in the 7-on-7 we had here [last year]. It gave us enough confidence that he could be a good tailback here.”

As for Gray, Brown said he was “not sure” if he could participate in spring ball next month. Gray, who had 29 carries as a reserve in his first two seasons, was injured in camp. According to Brown, he’s “back in good shape. He’s put on some really good weight. He’s about 230 pounds. Looks good, running well.

“He showed some really good things last spring,” Brown said. “He’s a one-cut downhill runner. Didn’t play much [at running back] in high school; was a quarterback and kind of transferred to playing running back here. I like his skill set.”

Homer (seven carries, 44 yards last year) is “a whole lot better than people think he is,” Brown said. “Travis is an all-around tailback. Didn’t play a bunch at running back obviously this past year. Was a big special teams guy for us. Deals well in between the tackles. Very intelligent football player that knows our entire offense. Can play in space. Can make guys miss one on one, can break tackles. Also can help us in the return game.”

2017 Signing Day: Seven Miami Hurricanes recruits on commitment watch

(Palm Beach Post illustration)
(Palm Beach Post illustration)

Barring any late defections, Miami expects to sign the 21 players discussed in a previous blog post. Check out the annual Field Guide to Miami Recruits, if you missed it. It is long and detailed.

There will likely be a few late additions, meaning the Hurricanes are still in play for a few top prospects.  UM will be monitoring at least seven signing day decisions on Wednesday.

In the same style of the field guide, below you’ll find decision times and finalists for each, along with the usual need-to-know bio info, projection, fun facts and videos.

MIAMI SIGNING DAY TARGETS

WR Mike Harley

Harley
Harley

Status: signed with Miami

Was considering: Miami, UCLA, Utah, West Virginia

Size: 5-10, 160

School: Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas

Stats: 553 yards, nine touchdowns on 35 catches as a senior (MaxPreps)

Stars: Four (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 18 wide receiver, 123rd overall (Rivals), No. 34, 265th overall (247), No. 42 (ESPN)

Projection: Dynamic secondary weapon. Harley is not a tall or wide body, but can go deep or work the intermediate lanes with his speed and has plenty of wiggle, both before and after the catch. His route-running was good enough to make defensive backs at the Army All-American Bowl look silly, and was a reason he rose from a three-star to a four-star afterward. “Harley is as ‘sudden’ a receiver as there is in this class,” Rivals’ Rob Cassidy wrote. Rivals’ Mike Farrell pegs him as consistent, productive and always open. “He’s so fun to watch,” Farrell wrote. “He’s such a difficult cover, gets in and out of his breaks so quickly, has great creativity, sets defensive backs up really well.”

https://twitter.com/SBNRecruiting/status/816847602893422592

 

Fun facts: Adidas featured aforementioned cuts in an ad … Committed to West Virginia before dropping the pledge Jan. 22, a week after he visited UMHad fun with the Miami-WVU Russell Athletic Bowl, calling it “The Harley Bowl” on Twitter and saying (facetiously, though many didn’t take it that way) that whomever won the game would get his signature on signing day … He did reaffirm his commitment at the time, before backing off a month later … Wears No. 3 … Turned 19 after last season.

On tape: Hudl highlights: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3865227/mike-harley … Another highlight video: https://twitter.com/TopFlyFilms/status/824092397546196992

WR Jeff Thomas

Thomas
Thomas

Statussigned with Miami

Was considering: Miami, Louisville, Tennessee and Oregon

Size: 5-10, 165

School: East St. Louis (Illinois)

Stats: 1,101 yards, 13 touchdowns on 50 catches as a senior; 1,145-7-54 as a junior (MaxPreps)

Stars: Four (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 8 wide receiver, 55th overall (ESPN), No. 8, 57th (Rivals), No. 9, 52nd (247)

Projection: Major weapon. His speed and big-play ability were why he was MVP of the Under Armour All-America Game. He had two long touchdowns off short throws. At Miami, he could be a multipurpose threat, especially in the slot or on jet sweeps and bubble screens. “A true burner,” ESPN wrote, noting that he is “fearless” and “should be able to run away from nearly everyone at the next level.” Along with Ahmmon Richards and Mike Harley, he would give Miami’s receiving corps the speed it had with Phillip Dorsett, Herb Waters and Stacy Coley a few years ago. He was named fastest player at “The Opening” combine last summer:

Fun facts: Rivals named him the “most exciting and dynamic player” and the “game-changer” of the Under Armour All-America week. He recorded 148 receiving yards and two touchdowns (both records in the 10-year-old event), including a 79-yarder and 44-yarder … Turned a few heads by showing up on his Miami official visit wearing gear with an orange-and-green “F” logos on it. Florida Gators? Nah. His high school team is the Flyers … Wore No. 4 for said Flyers … Also played cornerback.

On tape: Footage from Under Armour All-America practices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqii_gMlwS8 … Senior year mixtape, showing UA Game highlight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lakVP7WyOm0 … Hudl highlights: https://www.hudl.com/profile/3343060/jeff-thomas

CB Christopher “C.J.” Henderson

Henderson
Henderson

Statussigned with Florida

Was considering: Miami, Florida and Alabama

Size: 6-1, 175

School: Miami-Columbus

Stats: N/A

Stars: Four (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 10 athlete, 131st overall (ESPN), No. 17 cornerback, 116th (247), No. 19, 226th (Rivals)

Projection: Reliable starting cornerback. With his speed alone (4.35 in the 40), Henderson should be a special-teamer and member of the rotation to start. As he develops, he should see more time and wind up a starter sooner than later. ESPN said he has more upside on defense than offense – he played both in high school – and is a “dynamic player” with “explosive speed.”

Fun facts: Committed to UM in Feb. 2016 before backing off last October … Said at the time of his commitment he chose the Hurricanes because “it’s right at home and I feel like I’ll fit right in. Nothing is better than dominating in your own city” … Member of the USA Under-19 national team.

On tape: Hudl: http://www.hudl.com/profile/2704635/cj-henderson

CB Jhavonte Dean

Dean
Dean

Statussigned with Miami

Was considering: Miami, Arizona State and Utah.

Size: 6-2, 180

School: Blinn College (Brenham, Texas), via Homestead-South Dade High

Stats: 23 tackles, five pass break-ups in his second year in junior college; 18 tackles, nine pass break-ups in his first season. (247)

Stars: Four (Rivals, ESPN), three (247)

Rank: No. 2 junior college cornerback, 8th overall JUCO (ESPN), No. 2 JUCO CB, 34th overall JUCO (247), No. 8 overall JUCO (Rivals)

Projection: Starting cornerback. Dean won’t arrive at his chosen school until the summer – he still has another semester of junior college to go – but at UM, he would have the experience and speed (4.3s in the 40) to start immediately in a rebuilding secondary. He is physical and confident, ESPN wrote — “He seems to relish one-on-one opportunities” – though he can improve his tackling.

Fun facts: Grew up in Homestead, as noted above … Played on the same youth team as current Hurricanes Dionte Mullins, Joe Jackson and Cedrick Wright … Committed to Alabama last summer and dropped that commitment amid interest from Miami … West Virginia made a late push … Earned the Alabama offer after running a stopwatch-timed 4.3-second 40-yard dash at Crimson Tide summer camp … Will have three seasons to play two years, meaning he could redshirt if need be … Wore No. 6 during his Miami official visit … Signed with Cincinnati as a three-star recruit in 2014.

On tape: Hudl highlights: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3424853/jhavonte-dean

CB Brian Edwards

Edwards
Edwards

Status: committed to Florida

Was considering: Florida, Miami and Louisville

Size: 6-3, 190

School: Miramar

Stats: N/A

Stars: Four (Rivals), three (247, ESPN)

Rank: No. 21 safety, 221st  overall (Rivals), No. 67 cornerback, 671st (247), No. 94 safety (ESPN)

Projection: Long cornerback who matches up with top receivers. Edwards has the size and striking ability to be a good safety, but his fluidity and length make him a great fit at corner. That’s a position of need at UM, where he would arrive with the smaller Trajan Bandy and give Manny Diaz options of different sizes.

Fun facts: A coach who trains Edwards told Canesport Monday that Edwards informed Florida’s coaches he plans to be a Gator … Visited Florida last weekend, and Louisville and Miami before that … The Gators lost four-star cornerback Elijah Blades last week and ramped up their push for Edwards … A two-time decommitment (Louisville, Miami)

On tape: Hudl page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/4720704/brian-edwards

 

WR Devonta Smith

Smith
Smith

Status: signed with Alabama

Was considering: Alabama, LSU, Miami and Florida State.

Size: 6-1, 160

School: Amite (La.)

Stats: N/A

Stars: Five (247), four (Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 3 wide receiver, 29th overall (247), No. 6, 42nd (Rivals), No. 34, 227th (ESPN)

Projection: No. 1 receiver. Smith has tons of speed and after-the-catch moves, though he is very skinny coming out of high school. A commitment to Miami seems unlikely after he skipped out on his official visit to Coral Gables last weekend. If he winds up a Hurricane, it will be a pleasant surprise to the staff and fans.

Fun facts: Attended Miami’s Paradise Camp last summer … Runs a 4.47 40 … Army All-American … Committed to Mark Richt at Georgia in Aug. 2015 and decommitted after Richt was dismissed.

On tape: Hudl page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3386041/devonta-smith

WR Jordan Pouncey

Pouncey
Pouncey

Status: signed with Texas

Was considering: Tennessee, Texas and Miami

Size: 6-1, 180

School: Winter Park

Stats: N/A

Stars: Three (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 113 athlete, 834th overall (247), No. 146 wide receiver (ESPN), not rated (Rivals)

Projection: Solid complementary receiver. “Pouncey for Power Five programs would likely be viewed as a possession player, but he does make plays and the likes of top Group of Five programs will like him.”

Fun facts: Cousin of NFL twins Mike and Maurkice Pouncey … Comes from the same high school as senior defensive end Trent Harris … Formerly committed to Notre Dame.

On tape: Hudl: https://www.hudl.com/profile/2930133/jordan-pouncey

Meet the new Canes: a field guide to 2017 Miami Hurricanes recruits

(Palm Beach Post illustration)
(Palm Beach Post illustration)

Some college football fans follow recruiting obsessively, all year. With signing day coming Wednesday, some may need to do a little homework.

For the most part, the Hurricanes’ recruiting class is known. Ten players are already on campus as early enrollees. Wednesday, somewhere around 16 more will sign letters of intent and become Canes. There are always late surprises, but the players below have said they are solidly committed to UM.

Along with their name, photo and status (committed, signed or enrolled), you’ll find their vital stats and how they were ranked by the major recruiting sites. You’ll also see my projection on their future role at UM, from talking to players, coaches, analysts, reviewing film and other research (these are not what I expect the player to do in Year One, but an idea of what they may be eventually. Keep in mind these projections are solely for entertainment value).

Finally, there are a few offbeat items about each player, plus links to their highlight tapes and video interviews.

Want a flashback? Check out the field guides from 2016, 2015 and 2014.

Meet the new Canes:

QUARTERBACKS

N’Kosi Perry

Perry
Perry

Statussigned

Size: 6-4, 180

School: Ocala-Vanguard

Stats: Threw for 2,267 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior (Rivals). As a junior, threw for 2,510 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions on 58 percent passing (247)

Stars: Four (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 3 dual-threat QB, 84th overall (ESPN), No. 8, 188th (Rivals), No. 9, 355th (247).

Projection: Highly productive starting quarterback – maybe even this fall. Perry is still a bit raw as a passer, but his talent is undeniable. It appears he will see the field as soon as he’s ready. Fellow commit DeeJay Dallas likens him to former Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley, while some inside the program name-check Deshaun Watson when speaking about Perry’s potential. ESPN’s scouting report said his ability to make plays when the pocket breaks down is Lamar Jackson-like. That’s something the Hurricanes, looking for Brad Kaaya’s replacement, could use.

Fun facts:  Committed to Al Golden in Sept. 2015 and backed off last February, saying he committed too early. Mark Richt convinced him to jump back on board in March, and spurn Auburn and Tennessee … Took no official visits besides Miami – high school seniors are allotted five, paid for by the school – though he unofficially visited Florida State and Florida last summer … Said he “could see myself living the rest of my life” in Miami … A breakdown of his senior year is here, and a look at his potential standing in the Miami quarterback battle is here … Wore No. 7 in high school.

On tape: Highlights from Paradise Camp last July: http://caneswatch.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2016/07/17/paradise-camp-2016-nkosi-perry-highlight-video-miami-hurricanes/ … Hudl highlight page: https://www.hudl.com/profile/3293951/nkosi-perry … MaxPreps highlight reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ6P1FVKJ0k

Cade Weldon

Weldon
Weldon

Status: enrolled

Size: 6-3, 204

School: Tampa-Jefferson

Stats: As a senior, threw for 3,135 yards and 19 touchdowns on 61 percent passing; 368 rushing yards, one touchdown (UM).

Stars: Three (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 19 pro-style QB (Rivals), No. 23 (ESPN), No. 42 (247)

Projection: Potential starting quarterback. Weldon’s chances of taking over for Brad Kaaya are as good as anyone’s, with none of the returning scholarship quarterbacks having established themselves and the more highly touted Perry arriving in the summer. Weldon could emerge from the spring as the man to beat. He is a mechanically sound quarterback who sees the field well, and is a threat to run (before a knee injury cost him his junior season, he was running the 40-yard dash in the high-4.5s, his coach told Canesport). He needs to increase his weight and strength, but has the mind and skill to be a starter at the Power 5 level, ESPN wrote.

Fun facts: A few plays into his junior season, tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee … Dad is Casey Weldon, who shined at Florida State under quarterbacks coach Mark Richt. Casey was an All-American and finalist for the 1991 Heisman Trophy … FSU didn’t offer cade. Kentucky, South Carolina, Temple, Toledo, USF and Wake Forest did … On a December visit to the Weldon house, Mark Richt and quarterbacks coach Jon Richt lost in ping-pong to the father and son team of Casey and Cade Weldon. In the Richts’ defense, the Weldons play a lot more.

On tape: Hurricanes alum Steve Walsh breaks down Weldon’s film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0C4hcRJQZs … Hudl highlight page: https://www.hudl.com/profile/3961104/cade-weldon

RUNNING BACKS

Robert Burns

Burns
Burns

Status: enrolled

Size: 5-11, 216

School: Miami-Gulliver Prep

Stats: nine carries for 53 yards and a touchdown as a senior, 60 carries for 265 yards and four touchdowns as a junior; averaged 65 carries, 450 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two high school seasons (247).

Stars: Four (ESPN), three (247Sports, Rivals)

Rank: No. 11 running back, 108th overall (ESPN), No. 58, 1073rd (247), not rated (Rivals)

Projection: Rotational power back or starting fullback. Burns is a thickly built runner with good top-end speed and solid change-of-direction. “Robert has all the tools to be an every-down back,” UM running backs coach and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “He is built to wear defenses down, and has enough speed to create explosive runs.” His main problem has been staying healthy; his junior and senior years were ruined by ankle and shoulder injuries, and he played in three games as a senior. That could explain both his drop in stats and that discrepancy in ratings. Burns was an Under Armour All-America selection but didn’t play in the game because of an ankle injury. He told 247Sports he would work at fullback in addition to tailback this spring.

Fun facts: At 15, wowed at a Nike combine with a 4.58 40-yard dash and 39.3-inch vertical leap. Those numbers wouldn’t have looked out of place at the NFL combine … A Florida City native who lived with his godparents while attending Gulliver … Also preached at several local churches growing up and had his own “socially responsible clothing line” … Flirted with Notre Dame during senior year but held firm to Miami pledge he made as a sophomore … Plans to wear No. 22, his high school number, at Miami … Was recruited by Richt and Brown while they were at Georgia. Others offers included Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and others.

On tape: Hurricanes alum Duke Johnson breaks down Burns’ film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ8wQRq3h3k … Hudl highlight page http://www.hudl.com/profile/2687493/robert-burns

WIDE RECEIVERS

WR Jeff Thomas

Thomas
Thomas

Statussigned with Miami

Size: 5-10, 165

School: East St. Louis (Illinois)

Stats: 1,101 yards, 13 touchdowns on 50 catches as a senior; 1,145-7-54 as a junior (MaxPreps)

Stars: Four (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 8 wide receiver, 55th overall (ESPN), No. 8, 57th (Rivals), No. 9, 52nd (247)

Projection: Major weapon. His speed and big-play ability were why he was MVP of the Under Armour All-America Game. He had two long touchdowns off short throws. At Miami, he could be a multipurpose threat, especially in the slot or on jet sweeps and bubble screens. “A true burner,” ESPN wrote, noting that he is “fearless” and “should be able to run away from nearly everyone at the next level.” Along with Ahmmon Richards and Mike Harley, he would give Miami’s receiving corps the speed it had with Phillip Dorsett, Herb Waters and Stacy Coley a few years ago. He was named fastest player at “The Opening” combine last summer:

Fun facts: Rivals named him the “most exciting and dynamic player” and the “game-changer” of the Under Armour All-America week. He recorded 148 receiving yards and two touchdowns (both records in the 10-year-old event), including a 79-yarder and 44-yarder … Turned a few heads by showing up on his Miami official visit wearing gear with an orange-and-green “F” logos on it. Florida Gators? Nah. His high school team is the Flyers … Wore No. 4 for said Flyers … Also played cornerback … Chose UM over Oregon, Illinois and Louisville.

On tape: Footage from Under Armour All-America practices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqii_gMlwS8 … Senior year mixtape, showing UA Game highlight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lakVP7WyOm0 … Hudl highlights: https://www.hudl.com/profile/3343060/jeff-thomas

Mike Harley

Harley
Harley

Statussigned

Size: 5-10, 160

School: Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas

Stats: 553 yards, nine touchdowns on 35 catches as a senior (MaxPreps)

Stars: Four (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 18 wide receiver, 123rd overall (Rivals), No. 34, 265th overall (247), No. 42 (ESPN)

Projection: Dynamic secondary weapon. Harley is not a tall or wide body, but can go deep or work the intermediate lanes with his speed and has plenty of wiggle, both before and after the catch. His route-running was good enough to make defensive backs at the Army All-American Bowl look silly, and was a reason he rose from a three-star to a four-star afterward. “Harley is as ‘sudden’ a receiver as there is in this class,” Rivals’ Rob Cassidy wrote. Rivals’ Mike Farrell pegs him as consistent, productive and always open. “He’s so fun to watch,” Farrell wrote. “He’s such a difficult cover, gets in and out of his breaks so quickly, has great creativity, sets defensive backs up really well.”

https://twitter.com/SBNRecruiting/status/816847602893422592

Fun facts: Adidas featured aforementioned cuts in an ad … Committed to West Virginia before dropping the pledge Jan. 22, a week after he visited UMHad fun with the Miami-WVU Russell Athletic Bowl, calling it “The Harley Bowl” on Twitter and saying (facetiously, though many didn’t take it that way) that whomever won the game would get his signature on signing day … He did reaffirm his commitment at the time, before backing off a month later … Wears No. 3 … Turned 19 after last season … Also considered UCLA, Utah and West Virginia.

On tape: Hudl highlights: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3865227/mike-harley … Another highlight video: https://twitter.com/TopFlyFilms/status/824092397546196992

Evidence Njoku

Njoku
Njoku

Statussigned

Size: 6-6, 200

School: Wayne Hills (N.J.)

Stats: Registered 415 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 27 catches as a senior and was a kick returner. As a junior, caught 18 passes for 306 yards and five touchdowns, made 29 tackles and an interception returned 38 yards for a score, and put up 350 kickoff return yards and four touchdowns (NJ.com).

Stars: Four (247), three (Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 37 wide receiver, 297th overall (247), No. 81 (ESPN), No. 90 (Rivals)

Projection: Big target downfield and in the red zone. Njoku – who, of course, is the brother of potential first-round NFL draft pick and former UM tight end David Njoku — is taller and lankier than his brother was in high school. There’s a chance Evidence could wind up with the same tight end role as David, but it seems he could stay at receiver. Evidence has the frame to fill out to 230 or so, wrote in his recruiting video that he has a 89-inch wingspan, has good speed for his size (Rivals reported he runs a 4.52 in the 40), and brings leaping ability and ball skills to the table. There’s a lot to work with there, and he may not be done growing. He will be 17 through the upcoming season.

Fun facts: Second-youngest of nine children (four boys, five girls) … Parents were born in Nigeria … Said he models his game after Kelvin Benjamin, Dorial Green-Beckham and Devin Funchess, three NFL receivers 6-5 and 230 pounds or larger … Chose Miami over Penn State, Tennessee and Rutgers, among others. Also earned late offers from Oregon and Nebraska … Transferred from Cedar Grove (N.J.) before his senior year and won a state title with Wayne Hills … Wore No. 83 in high school.

On tape: Senior year highlight film: http://caneswatch.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2017/01/04/recruiting-evidence-njoku-brings-length-leaping-to-hurricanes-wr-group/ … Hudl highlights: http://www.hudl.com/profile/2641271/evidence-njoku … Junior year tape: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JceOkfFLxQ

DeeJay Dallas

Dallas
Dallas

Status: enrolled

Size: 5-10, 205

School: Brunswick (Ga.) Glynn Academy

Stats: As a junior, rushed for 1,139 yards and 13 touchdowns, threw for 678 yards and seven touchdowns, caught 14 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown, and was his team’s primary return specialist. Senior year: rushed for 1,201 yards and 15 touchdowns, passed for 911 yards and eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in 64 pass attempts (Jacksonville.com)

Stars: Four (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 16 athlete, 196th overall (Rivals), No. 16, 231st overall (ESPN), No. 35, 487th (247)

Projection: A contributor – somewhere. Dallas won’t be a quarterback at UM, but could be a receiver or cornerback, depending on whether Miami lands its desired targets on signing day. He is also a candidate for returns, given the knack he displayed in high school. He’s confident, quick and elusive and “does so many things well,” ESPN wrote, with “the speed and instincts to be a playmaker no matter where he lines up on the field. … This is one of those guys that you [recruit and] figure out where to play later.” It’s likely Miami sees him on offense to start, given the fact it had receivers coach Ron Dugans comment on him publicly and roomed him with Ahmmon Richards on his official visit. “He’s a magician on the football field,” his coach, Rod Hidalgo, told Jacksonville.com. “They’re going to love the energy he brings.”

Fun facts: Miami’s unofficial ambassador in recruiting, who committed last May and got to work on convincing others to join him … Should be an instant fan favorite because of that, and his wanting to “kick [FSU’s] tails” in Doak Campbell Stadium this year … Built a strong relationship with Mark Richt during the coach’s Georgia days. Backed off his UGA commitment after Richt was dismissed … Named Jacksonville Times-Union Georgia player of the year … Had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Georgia among a list of 32 schools … Named captain of Sports Illustrated’s “All-Name Team” for the 2017 recruiting class … Incidentally, the last Dallas the Hurricanes had – Dallas Crawford – was also a 5-10 four-star quarterback/athlete recruit. In college, he switched from safety to tailback and back again while contributing on special teams … Wore No. 5 in high school but plans to wear No. 13 at Miami.

On tape: Hurricanes alum D.J. Williams breaks down Dallas’ film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgQ9ZJqOoUI … Link to all his highlight tapes: http://www.hudl.com/profile/2759579/deejay-dallas

TIGHT ENDS

Brian Polendey

Polendey
Polendey

Status: enrolled

Size: 6-6, 218

School: Denton (Texas) Guyer

Stats: Recorded nine catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns as a junior (UM). As a senior, had seven catches for 60 yards and a score (247)

Stars: Three (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 11 tight end (ESPN), No. 12, 452nd overall (247), No. 27 (Rivals)

Projection: Starting tight end down the line. With Chris Herndon entrenched as the starter, it would be great to see Miami redshirt him and develop him, as it did David Njoku. He’s not a burner, but Polendey’s height and willingness to block stand out on film. “He plays tough, nasty” and is “extremely intelligent,” tight ends coach Todd Hartley said. Adding strength and refining his technique could make him a viable weapon, especially on short-and-medium routes. He played outside, in the slot, in line and at H-back in high school, not unlike Herndon’s role at UM. He also played a little tackle in high school, so at the very least, he has awareness of the guy next to him.

Fun facts:  Born in Eugene, Ore. and grew up in Washington. Moved to Texas as a high school sophomore. … Coached by former Cane Jeremy Shockey at UM’s Paradise Camp last summer … Wore No. 83 in high school.

On tape: Hurricanes alum Jon Vilma breaks down Polendey’s film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZt3Xo-WmuA … Hudl highlight page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/5220499/brian-polendey

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Navaughn Donaldson

Donaldson
Donaldson

Status: enrolled

Size: 6-6, 335

School: Miami Central

Stats: N/A

Stars: Four (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 6 offensive tackle, 43rd overall (Rivals), No. 7 offensive guard, 89th overall (ESPN), No. 11 tackle, 81st (247)

Projection: All-ACC lineman. Donaldson needs to lose some bad weight, but when he does that and gets some college training, he can be as good as Miami’s had up front in some time. He has the athleticism and length to play tackle, and his power and fluidity could translate to guard. He has a wide body and moves well. “He’s going to absolutely destroy people as a road-grader,” Rivals analyst Mike Farrell said. “He’s big, he’s nasty … just needs to work on his pass-protection a little bit to become elite.”

Fun facts: Grew up a fan of the Baltimore Ravens and Ray Lewis … Played in the Under Armour All-America Game … Wouldn’t discuss a number when asked, but said dropping pounds is a goal. Joked he wants to be “one percent body fat” and said he wouldn’t mind playing defense if his coaches asked … Had offers from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville and many others. Visited UF and FSU but stuck with the Hurricanes. Said the Gators came in second … Miami sent eight coaches on a bus to his house for a visit in December … Once bear-hugged and hoisted Mark Richt off the ground after Richt offered him a scholarship … Wore No. 55 in high school … Teammate of fellow early enrollee Waynmon Steed.

On tape: Hurricanes alum Bryant McKinnie breaks down Donaldson’s film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W794LWjYsso … Video interview at the Under Armour All-America game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwTuG144j8I … Rivals’ video analysis from Under-Armour week: https://n.rivals.com/news/video-ua-all-america-analysis-navaughn-donaldson

Kai-Leon Herbert

Herbert
Herbert

Statussigned

Size: 6-5, 275

School: Plantation-American Heritage

Stats: N/A

Stars: Four (Rivals, ESPN), three (247)

Rank: No. 12 offensive tackle, 99th overall (ESPN), No. 25 (Rivals), No. 71, 769th (247)

Projection: High-end tackle or guard. Herbert, like many linemen coming out of high school, needs to get stronger. However, he’s quick and nasty, and has the requisite size and length. ESPN called him a “smart kid who recognizes and adjusts to stunts and blitzes,” which gives him another advantage in a conference filled with quick pass-rushers.

Fun facts: This crazy, bloody, zombiefied recruiting commitment video was all for naught … Herbert acted in a short film with Bleacher Report in which he killed the undead fans of other Big Ten schools, Walking Dead-style, until he revealed himself to be a Michigan pledge. No really, watch this. And remember it fondly. He didn’t do another video when he committed to Miami recently, but hoo boy, imagine what he might have done if he had the time … Chose Miami over Florida … Wore No. 57 in high school … Also played at Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale.

On tape: Rivals 5-star challenge OL vs. DL 1-on-1s (skip to 5:49 mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA0FffrQw8w … Hudl highlight page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3898911/kai-leon-herbert

Zach Dykstra

Dykstra
Dykstra

Status: enrolled

Size: 6-6, 305

School: Spirit Lake (Iowa)

Stats: N/A

Stars: Three (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 46 offensive tackle (ESPN), No. 60, 647th overall (247), not rated (Rivals)

Projection: Backup or spot starter as an upperclassman. Dykstra is a developmental project for offensive line coach Stacy Searels. He played right tackle and defensive end in high school, but could play either guard or center.

Fun facts: Not Miami’s highest-rated recruit, but the only one who was doing inverted single-arm handstand kettlebell presses as part of his training (watch short clips here and here) … Opted for Miami over in-state offers from Iowa and Iowa State … Visited Vanderbilt last fall, in addition to UM … Wore No. 67 in high school.

On tape: Hurricanes alum Bryant McKinnie breaks down Dykstra’s film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6qPg0S4o_8 … Hudl highlight page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/4530856/zach-dykstra

Corey Gaynor

Gaynor
Gaynor

Statussigned

Size: 6-4, 280

School: Parkland-Douglas

Stats: A lot of pancake blocks. His Hudl film says he had 106. Rivals reported 97. He told the Sun Sentinel he had 23 in one game as a senior.

Stars: Three (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 85 offensive guard (ESPN), No. 22, 1280th overall (247), not rated (Rivals)

Projection: Scrappy starting center. Gaynor’s film shows him destroying things in the run game. His best attribute is his nasty streak. His high school coach, Willis May, said in interviews with several publications that Gaynor has “bad intentions every play for the man across from him.” Gaynor told the Sun Sentinel he most looks forward to “kicking FSU’s *** … You can put the dashes and asterisks.”

Fun facts:  Favorite Hurricane? Sean Taylor … Flipped from Minnesota after Miami offered Nov. 29 … Also had Pitt and West Virginia among his finalists before the hometown Canes jumped in … Brother, Chris, is a junior guard at TCU … Wore No. 74 in high school … Wants to be a police officer or firefighter when he grows up, he told the Sun Sentinel.

On tape: Hudl highlights: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3779911/corey-gaynor

Zalon’tae Hillery

Hillery
Hillery

Statussigned

Size: 6-6, 280

School: Brunswick (Ga.) Glynn Academy

Stats: N/A

Stars: Four (247), three Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 29 offensive tackle, 268th overall (247), No. 49 (ESPN), No. 83 (Rivals)

Projection: Starting tackle as an upperclassman. He’s light for an O-lineman, but has a large frame and lacks bad weight. He’s raw and it’s unlikely he’ll contribute early, but Miami is betting on his upside. He told a Rivals affiliate he prefers to play right tackle.

Fun facts: Late interest from Florida … Visited North Carolina State, Kentucky and Central Michigan … One of the players DeeJay Dallas recruited to Miami. The two were high school teammates … Committed to UM at Paradise Camp last July … Wore No. 75 in high school … Also played some defensive end … Rivals lists him as “Zalon’tae,” with an apostrophe … Told a Rivals affiliate he plans to major in engineering.

On tape: Hudl highlight page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/4796727/zalontae-hillery

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Deonte “D.J.” Johnson

Johnson
Johnson

Statussigned

Size: 6-5, 240

School: Sacramento (Calif.) Burbank

Stats: As a senior: 15 sacks, 32 tackles for losses, 80 tackles and two fumble recoveries for touchdowns (Rivals). As a sophomore and junior combined: 48 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, three scoop-and-scores (247)

Stars: Four (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 5 defensive end, 62nd overall (ESPN), No. 6 weakside defensive end, 65th (247), No. 7, 112th overall (Rivals)

Projection: High-end starter at defensive end. ESPN praised him for his pass-rush ability (“disruptive … capable of more than earning his keep by getting after the QB”) and said he “shows flashes of top-level ability.” It’s hard to see Johnson (and Garvin) sitting on the sidelines too long, because of the talent both possess. They’ll come in behind Chad Thomas, Joe Jackson, Demetrius Jackson, Pat Bethel and Scott Patchan. Johnson, for his part, is plenty confident about his abilities and his team; after Clemson won the national championship, he opined that the “ACC is the best conference and we gonna take it over this season.”

Fun facts: Had 100 scholarship offers, which according to this site was the most in the nation … Committed to Miami via a unique video. “Gimme my damn hat” … Had a pair of sacks in the Under Armour All-America game … Wore No. 1 in high school, No. 52 for Team USA and may wear No. 1 at Miami … Has a head full of short, red-tipped dreadlocks … In November, responded to apparent uncertainty about his commitment to Miami with a memorable tweet that harkened back to the old Hurricane days: “Ima say it again, I take this cane s*** serious, I’m coming for heads, we gonna kill s***, I’m a cane for life, I am the baddest mf you know” … Started on the USA Under-19 national team alongside fellow future Hurricane Trajan Bandy.

On tape: Hudl highlights: https://www.hudl.com/profile/4023082/dj-johnson

Jonathan Garvin

Garvin
Garvin

Status: enrolled

Size: 6-4, 229

School: Lake Worth

Stats: As a senior, made 88 tackles (32 for loss) and a school-record 25 sacks (Palm Beach Post) in a season that lasted nine games (one game was wiped out by Hurricane Matthew, and Lake Worth missed the playoffs). As a junior: 93 tackles (36 for loss), nine sacks and six forced fumbles.

Stars: Four (247, ESPN), three (Rivals)

Rank: No. 10 strongside defensive end, 195th nationally (247), No. 21, 275th (ESPN), No. 17 (Rivals)

Projection: Starting defensive end. Garvin is explosive coming off the edge, as evidenced by his film and stats. No reason he couldn’t have an early impact like Joe Jackson – they have a lot of similar qualities — but UM would be better off redshirting him. Could be a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

Fun facts: Told Canesport he’s been a Hurricanes fans “since I was born” … Threw up the ‘U’ after his high school sacks … Chose Miami over Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and others … The Palm Beach Post’s All-Area defensive player of the year … One of two Post All-Area and Super 11 selections (Amari Carter is the other) who enrolled at UM early … Played at Oxbridge Academy (the school that produced UM running back Travis Homer) before transferring to Lake Worth as a senior.

On tape: Hurricanes alum Jon Vilma breaks down Garvin’s film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cERssHnWM4E … Hudl highlight tape: https://www.hudl.com/profile/4445847/jonathan-garvin

Jonathan Ford

Ford
Ford

Statussigned

Size: 6-5, 275

School: Fort Lauderdale-Dillard

Stats: 98 tackles, 12 sacks as a junior (247)

Stars: Three (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 24 strongside defensive end (Rivals), No. 46, 612th overall (247), No. 42 defensive tackle (ESPN).

Projection: Starting defensive tackle. A solid, if unspectacular prospect with good strength and length, Ford played defensive end in high school but has the frame to add more bulk. That could make him a contributor in his second season. Starters Kendrick Norton and R.J. McIntosh and backup Gerald Willis will be draft-eligible, and backups Courtel Jenkins and Anthony Moten will have graduated.

Fun facts: His Hudl page says he benches 315 pounds, squats 505, deadlifts 405, has a 35.1-inch vertical leap and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. All of those numbers, if accurate, are impressive … Rankings dipped as a senior. When he committed to UM last January, he chose UM over Florida and Florida State, and was rated between 12th (247) and 17th (Rivals) at his position, and a four-star recruit … His coach told a Kentucky Rivals affiliate Ford commanded double and triple coverage … Wore No. 44 in high school … Was a Kentucky target … Wants to be an ESPN commentator when his playing days are over.

On tape: Hudl page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3390255/jon-ford

LINEBACKERS

Bradley Jennings Jr.

Jennings
Jennings

Status: enrolled

Size: 6-1, 220

School: Jacksonville-Sandalwood

Stats: As a junior, made 146 tackles (10 for loss), with three forced fumbles and two sacks.

Stars: Three (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 35 outside linebacker (Rivals), No. 43 (ESPN), No. 81, 1134th overall (247)

Projection: Starting linebacker in a couple years. Hurricanes alum D.J. Williams was high on Jennings during his film study (see below), saying that while Jennings has the requisite speed, “very rarely do you see patience like this at this level.” His coach told Rivals he was underrated because he didn’t participate in the camp-and-combine circuit. “I hear fans say he’s only a three-star,” Adam Geis said. “Well I say send any five-star running back through the A-gap – this kid will break you in half.”

Fun facts:  Father is former Florida State All-ACC linebacker of the same name, a Miami native and Carol City High grad nicknamed “Monster” … One-time Seminoles commit who chose UM over FSU, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina and others … Could continue Miami’s recent run of outstanding linebackers from Jacksonville (Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, Darrion Owens).

On tape: Williams breaks down Jennings’ film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgLYf_N-L2s … Hudl page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3134773/bradley-jennings

Waynmon Steed

Steed
Steed

Status: enrolled

Size: 5-11, 203

School: Miami Central

Stats: As a sophomore, made 83 tackles. Missed junior year with shoulder injury and played on torn ACL for much of his senior year.

Stars: Three (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 16 outside linebacker, 314th overall (247), No. 21 inside linebacker (Rivals), No. 68 outside linebacker (ESPN)

Projection: Starting linebacker, down the line. Steed will likely have a quiet beginning to his career, as he recovers from Dec. 2 ACL and meniscus surgery (as Canesport reported) and starters are firmly entrenched at his position. Steed can get healthy during a redshirt season and use his speed and instincts to back up Michael Pinckney at the weakside spot next year. He’s not big, but has decent speed and delivers a pop when he arrives.

Fun facts: Had an injury-marred high school career, as noted above … Teammate of fellow early enrollee Navaughn Donaldson … Wore No. 31 in high school … Another member of SI’s “All-Name” team … Goes by “Wayne.”

On tape: Hurricanes alum Jon Beason breaks down Steed’s film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6Gfgmb58V8 … Hudl page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3818752/waynmon-steed

De’Andre Wilder

Wilder
Wilder

Statussigned

Size: 6-2, 195

School: Miami-Carol City

Stats: 64 tackles, 14 sacks, four forced fumbles as a junior (247)

Stars: Four (ESPN, Rivals), three (247)

Rank: No. 22 outside linebacker (ESPN), No. 26 (Rivals), No. 52, 732nd overall (247)

Projection: Sam linebacker of the future. Wilder is fast, aggressive and hits hard – not unlike Zach McCloud, who currently mans the strong side in Manny Diaz’ defense. Miami needs to put weight on him and teach him technique, but he has excellent burst and closing speed and is unafraid of contact. He should be a significant contributor in the years to come.

Fun facts: Had 28 offers, including Alabama, Utah and Oregon, but opted to jump on board with his hometown school … State champion his senior year … Plans to wear No. 11 at UM … Earned the nickname “Eye Candy” in youth ball … Given name sounds like that of professional boxing champion Deontay Wilder. No relation.

On tape: Highlights, via Hudl: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3407581/deandre-wilder

CORNERBACKS

Trajan Bandy

Bandy
Bandy

Statussigned

Size: 5-9, 180

School: Miami-Columbus

Stats: 29 tackles, four forced fumbles, six interceptions as a junior (247)

Stars: Four (Rivals, ESPN), three (247)

Rank: No. 10 cornerback, 109th overall (Rivals), No. 26, 267th (ESPN), No. 43, 454th (247)

Projection: A future leader in the secondary, and potential starter in his first season. “Undersized corner who shows an incredible level of physicality,” Rivals analyst Rob Cassidy said. “If he had three more inches, he’d be one of the top three defensive backs in America probably just because of his coverage skills and everything else he can do.” ESPN called him a “pesky rascal.” He could see most time as a nickel or dime defensive back, where Jaquan Johnson and Malek Young got burn early. Bandy is a heart-and-soul type who wears the ‘U’ proudly and is guaranteed to be a fan favorite.

Fun facts: Along with DeeJay Dallas, doggedly recruited others to join him at UM … His neighbor is the brother of Sean Taylor, his favorite Hurricanes player. He gave Bandy a multicolored visor Taylor used to wear in games … Looks up to Tyrann Mathieu of the Arizona Cardinals, an undersized defensive back who made a name for himself … Grew up in southwest Miami near current UM cornerback Sheldrick Redwine … Started for the USA Under-19 team alongside fellow future Hurricane D.J. Johnson … Wore No. 1 in high school and plans to wear No. 2 at UM … Once committed to Oklahoma but “knew I wanted to go to Miami from Day 1,” he told Rivals. Clemson, Alabama, South Carolina, TCU and Nebraska also tried to sway him.

On tape: Remixed highlight tape: https://twitter.com/BandyTrajan/status/811756441417773056 … Work at Rivals camp against fellow top DBs (skip to 0:29 mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22yk7wEEwO0 … Analysis of his commitment: https://n.rivals.com/news/analysis-trajan-bandy-staying-home-with-the-hurricanes … Hudl page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3946990/trajan-bandy

CB Jhavonte Dean

Dean
Dean

Statussigned 

Was considering: Miami, Arizona State and Utah.

Size: 6-2, 180

School: Blinn College (Brenham, Texas), via Homestead-South Dade High

Stats: 23 tackles, five pass break-ups in his second year in junior college; 18 tackles, nine pass break-ups in his first season. (247)

Stars: Four (Rivals, ESPN), three (247)

Rank: No. 2 junior college cornerback, 8th overall JUCO (ESPN), No. 2 JUCO CB, 34th overall JUCO (247), No. 8 overall JUCO (Rivals)

Projection: Starting cornerback. Dean won’t arrive at his chosen school until the summer – he still has another semester of junior college to go – but at UM, he would have the experience and speed (4.3s in the 40) to start immediately in a rebuilding secondary. He is physical and confident, ESPN wrote — “He seems to relish one-on-one opportunities” – though he can improve his tackling.

Fun facts: Grew up in Homestead, as noted above … Played on the same youth team as current Hurricanes Dionte Mullins, Joe Jackson and Cedrick Wright … Committed to Alabama last summer and dropped that commitment amid interest from Miami … West Virginia made a late push … Earned the Alabama offer after running a stopwatch-timed 4.3-second 40-yard dash at Crimson Tide summer camp … Will have three seasons to play two years, meaning he could redshirt if need be … Wore No. 6 during his Miami official visit … Signed with Cincinnati as a three-star recruit in 2014.

On tape: Hudl highlights: http://www.hudl.com/profile/3424853/jhavonte-dean

SAFETIES

Amari Carter

Carter
Carter

Status: enrolled

Size: 6-2, 188

School: Palm Beach Gardens

Stats: 60 tackles, three interceptions, two returned for touchdowns as a junior (247)

Stars: Four (ESPN), three (247, Rivals)

Rank: No. 16 safety, 239th overall (ESPN), No. 26, 352nd (247), No. 51 (Rivals)

Projection: Starting safety, potentially in Week 1. Carter has to beat out sophomore Romeo Finley for a starting spot opposite Jaquan Johnson, but there’s a chance he could do that. Rangy, tough and aggressive, Carter appears to be an excellent fit in Manny Diaz’ defense and has few holes in his game, though ESPN wrote he could improve his man coverage skills. Former Hurricanes linebacker Jon Beason loves him, likening him to Sean Taylor – the highest of compliments for a Miami safety – and calling him a “great, great prospect.” At minimum, he should be a valuable special teams player this fall, with a bright future.

Fun facts: One of two Palm Beach Post Super 11 selections (Jonathan Garvin is the other) who enrolled early … Chose Miami over Notre Dame and had offers from Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Michigan and others … “Miami was in my heart,” he said after committing … An A student in school who said he wants to make a difference in the community … Plans to wear No. 6. Another safety named Carter – that would be Jamal – wore that jersey from 2013-16 … UM assistants brought a projector to his home to help him learn the defense. Suffice to say he’ll be playing early.

On tape: Beason breaks down Carter’s film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnU3dSJfHGo … Hudl highlights:  http://www.hudl.com/profile/3434041/amari-carter

Derrick Smith

Smith
Smith

Statussigned

Size: 6-3, 190

School: Jacksonville-Trinity

Stats: 52 tackles and three interceptions, plus two receiving touchdowns as a senior (Jacksonville Times-Union)

Stars: Three (247, Rivals, ESPN)

Rank: No. 77 athlete (ESPN), No. 115 wide receiver, 837th (247), not rated (Rivals)

Projection: Rotational safety or linebacker. Smith is a big hitter coming downhill and shows flashes of playmaking ability – tipping interceptions to himself, snatching balls from receivers – but he doesn’t have great speed, short-area quickness and change-of-direction. He’ll be best as a run-stopping safety and could grow into a linebacker, not unlike fellow Jacksonville native Darrion Owens.

Fun facts: Had several crunching hits and an interception in his team’s state title victory, the program’s fourth in a row … Chose Miami over Iowa State, UCLA, Colorado State and UCF … Wore No. 4 in high school.

On tape: Hudl highlights: https://www.hudl.com/profile/2809285/derrick-smith

PUNTER

Zach Feagles

Feagles
Feagles

Statussigned

Size: 6-2, 210

School: Ridgewood (N.J.)

Stats: 6.7 yards per carry and 18 rushing touchdowns as a senior; 11 touchdowns as a junior despite missing three games (USA Today)

Stars: Three (ESPN), two (247)

Rank: No. 6 nationally by Kohl’s Kicking … No. 3 (247). No. 8 kicker (ESPN), N/A (Rivals)

Projection: Starting punter. That’s why they put him on scholarship, right? Feagles has the leg strength and bloodlines to be a good one. No reason he can’t come in and take the spot vacated by All-ACC standout Justin Vogel.

Fun facts: Son of former Hurricane and 22-year NFL veteran Jeff Feagles, the most decorated punter in UM history and the only punter in the school’s sports hall of fame … Under Armour All-American … Also played fullback in high school … Wore No. 18 … Recruited by Rutgers and North Carolina.

On tape: Kohl’s highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eozi2p5s1HU … Under Armour highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se78E-E1INs … Hudl page: http://www.hudl.com/profile/4370918/zach-feagles

Analyzing the 2017 Miami Hurricanes football schedule

Miami’s schedule for the 2017 season, its second under coach Mark Richt, was released Tuesday.

Without further ado, let’s take a look:

(Getty Images, Post illustration)
(Getty Images, Post illustration)

2017 SCHEDULE

Saturday, Sept. 2 – vs. Bethune-Cookman
Saturday, Sept. 9 – at Arkansas State
Saturday, Sept. 16– at Florida State
Saturday, Sept. 23 – vs. Toledo
Friday, Sept. 29– at Duke
Saturday, Oct. 7 – BYE
Thursday, Oct. 12 – Georgia Tech
Saturday, Oct. 21 – Syracuse
Saturday, Oct. 28 – at North Carolina
Saturday, Nov. 4 – Virginia Tech
Saturday, Nov. 11 – vs. Notre Dame
Saturday, Nov. 18 – Virginia
Friday, Nov. 24– at Pittsburgh

ANALYSIS

Overall feeling, at this early juncture: it’s quite manageable. As long as that trip to Tallahassee doesn’t throw them into a tailspin, the Hurricanes should be OK. UM gets Notre Dame at home, avoids Clemson and Louisville in crossover play, and the non-conference games are a test without being too strenuous.

As usual, Miami opens with an in-state FCS school (Bethune-Cookman), and a Week 2 game at Arkansas State will be a small taste of road life before the biggest game of the year in Week 3. Miami hasn’t had this kind of September tilt since 2013, when it hosted Florida. The last time the Hurricanes played FSU in September was the 2009 season-opener, a 38-34 win. This fall, breaking in a new quarterback, the prospects don’t look as promising. Florida State should be quite good this year.

“If you polled any of the guys who enrolled here in January and will sign next Wednesday, that’s what they’re signing up for. Those are the games they want to be a part of,” UM Athletics Director Blake James said Tuesday. “That’ll be an exciting game for whoever’s playing quarterback.”

https://twitter.com/LawrenceCager3/status/823976838519209985

The Hurricanes’ rebuilding secondary could be up against it again in Week 4, with Toledo’s outstanding quarterback in town. A trip to Duke — one of two Friday games Miami plays this fall — comes in Week 4. James said Tuesday UM requested Saturday-only games. That request wasn’t met. But away “non-traditional” games are preferable to home ones, given South Florida’s traffic problems.

Compared to last year — when Miami had a run of FSU, Virginia Tech, UNC and Notre Dame, with three games in 12 days in that span — this October is friendly. The Hurricanes have a bye to start the month. That gives them extra rest before a Thursday game against Georgia Tech. They’ll have more time to prep for Syracuse, which comes to town in Week 8. After that, road games at reloading UNC and Pittsburgh are the bread to a three-game home stand sandwich. The meat: Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Virginia. All of those teams are relative unknowns at this point.

Even with questions at quarterback and in the secondary, the strength of UM’s front seven and skill-position players should make it a preseason favorite to win the Coastal division. If it upsets Florida State in Tallahassee in September, hype will grow nationally about the Hurricanes as a playoff contender. No, really. The rest of the schedule looks that reasonable.

Miami also gets seven home games for the first time since 2014. UM had six home games last year and in 2015.

Here’s more about each opponent, with some need-to-know info and fun facts:

SCOUTING 2017 MIAMI HURRICANES OPPONENTS

BETHUNE-COOKMAN
When:
 Saturday, Sept. 2
Where: 
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens (64,982).
Last year: 4-6, 4-4 MEAC.
vs. FBS: lost at North Texas 41-20.
Last meeting with Miami: lost 45-0 at UM, Sept. 5, 2015
Of note: Statistically, the Wildcats were a perfectly average MEAC team, scoring and allowing 25.2 points per game with no major strengths or glaring deficiencies, aside from a less-than-impressive run game … B-CU returns a host of Palm Beach Post-area contributors, including starting quarterback Larry Brihm (Village Academy), leading receiver and punt returner Frank Brown (Palm Beach Gardens), wideout Travares Copeland (Treasure Coast), cornerback DeAndre Bozeman (Dwyer) and defensive linemen Todney Evans (Atlantic) … In total offense, Brihm (1,466 yards) more than doubled his second-most productive teammate despite playing in eight games … He threw for 11 touchdowns and four interceptions … Brown scored a team-high eight touchdowns, one on an 88-yard punt return … B-CU has same coach (Terry Sims) that played Miami in 2015 … That team went 9-1 the rest of the way and won Sims the MEAC coach of the year award … Non-conference schedule includes a Sept. 16 game at Lane Kiffin’s FAU Owls.

ARKANSAS STATE
arkansas-state-red-wolves-logoWhen: Saturday, Sept. 9
Where: 
Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, Ark. (30,406).
Last year: 8-5, 7-1 Sun Belt. Beat UCF 31-13 in Cure Bowl.
Vs. Power Five: lost 51-14 at Auburn.
January rankings: Finished 58th in USA Today’s Jan. 2017 poll.
Last meeting with Miami: lost 41-20 at UM, Sept. 13, 2014.
Of note: Here’s hoping Booker Mays, the player who “died” during the 2014 Miami-Arkansas State game, has made a full recovery … Coach Blake Anderson, who dialed up that “Fainting Goat” play, enters his fourth season leading the Red Wolves … He may or may not have another special teams play ready for the Hurricanes … He has a good quarterback in junior Justice Hansen, a former four-star Oklahoma signee … Won eight of nine last year after an 0-4 start … Arkansas State, 2014 was a breakout day for Miami’s first-year starting quarterback (Brad Kaaya). Will the 2017 meeting be a repeat? … Phillip Dorsett (201 yards receiving, two scores) opened a lot of eyes in the 2014 game … Miami struggled with pace and penalties that game, too … Returns three Florida natives, including former Boynton Beach High alum Chauncey Mason (brother of Tre) and former Miami Norland receiver (and Arkansas transfer) Kendrick Edwards … Not among them: Marques Gayot, who explored transferring to the Red Wolves last year but wound up back at UM as a student assistant … The record crowd at Arkansas State’s stadium (which has artificial turf), is 31,243 for a 2012 game against Middle Tennessee. Since beginning FBS play in 1992, the Red Wolves have hosted two Power Five schools: Mississippi (2001) and Missouri (2015) … Non-conference slate includes season-opener at Nebraska and road trip to SMU.

FLORIDA STATE
When:
 Saturday, Sept. 16
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee (82,300).
Last year: 
10-3, 5-3 ACC. Beat No. 10 Michigan 33-32 in Orange Bowl.  January rankings: Finished 10th in USA Today postseason rankings … 8th in final 2015 AP poll … National title odds 8-to-1. 
Last meeting with Miami:
 won 20-19 at UM on Oct. 8, 2016
Of note: 
Last year’s game, as usual, was dramatic and a total bloodbath … Can Miami break a seven-year drought against its in-state rival? … Earliest Canes-Noles game since 2009 (season-opener) … Miami’s record against FSU in September: 11-11 … FSU is widely considered the ACC favorite, as it returns much more experienced talent than national champion Clemson … Everyone will get a good look at the Seminoles on Sept. 2, when they play Alabama in Atlanta … That game could be a top-5 (or even top-2) matchup … Noles lose Dalvin Cook, but the combo of quarterback Deondre Francois and five-star freshman back Cam Akers has a lot of people excited in Tallahassee … Fans who haven’t been to Tally since the last time Miami played there (2015) will notice the 7,800 square-foot video board, which was added last year. It was built to withstand an actual hurricane (up to 130 mph winds) … The $80 million renovation to the 66-year-old stadium also added more luxury seating, upgraded the bathrooms and reduced seating capacity from 82,300 to 79,560 … Three of FSU’s top four crowds have been for Hurricanes games, including a record 84,409 for the 2013 top-10 matchup … Non-Miami crossover game is Duke, on the road.

TOLEDO
toledo-logoWhen: Saturday, Sept. 23
Where: 
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens (64,982).
Last year: 9-4, 6-2 MAC. Lost 31-28 to Appalachian State in Camellia Bowl.
Vs. Power Five: Lost 55-53 at BYU.
January rankings: Finished 50th in USA Today postseason rankings.
Last meeting with Miami: lost 24-14 at No. 3 Miami, Nov. 21, 1987.
Of note: The only previous game between the teams was a dicey one in UM’s national title season of ’87. The Hurricanes may have been looking ahead to bigger things, and Toledo outrushed them, nearly out-passed them and matched them in touchdowns …. First of a curious ACC-MAC home-and-home. The Rockets host the Hurricanes in 2018 … Toledo opened last season by beating Arkansas State on the road, nearly beat BYU on the road and gave then-unbeaten Western Michigan a tough time on the road in the teams’ regular-season finale … Miami is the only Power 5 game for Toledo, which hosts Elon and Tulsa and visits Nevada in September … Leading rusher Kareem Hunt is gone, but it’s hard to take the Rockets lightly with quarterback Logan Woodside at the helm. He led the nation in touchdowns (a school-record 45) and finished second in passer rating (183.34). Woodside, a senior-to-be, threw for 4,129 yards and nine interceptions on 69.1 percent passing … One of his top receivers is Miami Jackson alum Desmond Phillips, who played quarterback in high school.

DUKE
When: Friday, Sept. 29
Where: 
Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N.C. (33,941).
Last year: 4-8, 1-7 ACC.
January rankings: Finished 85th in USA Today postseason rankings … national title odds: 300-to-1.
Last meeting with Miami: lost 40-21 at UM, Nov. 26, 2016.
Of note: Thoroughly beaten by the Hurricanes to close a disappointing, injury-riddled season … Three impressive games for the 2016 Dukies: a 28-27 win over North Carolina in November, a 38-35 win at Notre Dame, and a close (24-14) loss at Louisville … Also beat eight-win Army … One of two schools (Virginia) with experienced quarterbacks returning. Either Daniel Jones or Thomas Sirk (injured in 2016) could take the reins … Non-league games include North Carolina Central, Northwestern and Baylor – all at home, in the first three weeks – and a road game at Army on Nov. 11.

GEORGIA TECH
When: Thursday, Oct. 12
Where: 
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens (64,982).
Last year: 10-4, 6-2 ACC. Beat Kentucky 33-18 in TaxSlayer Bowl.
January rankings: Finished 34th in USA Today postseason rankings … received votes in final AP poll (essentially 27th) … national title odds: 200-to-1.
Last meeting with Miami: lost 35-14 in Atlanta on Oct. 1, 2016.
Of note: Expectations were low, and Paul Johnson’s crew far exceeded them … Lost to Clemson, Pitt, Miami and UNC, but scored road wins over Virginia Tech and Georgia … Gave UM a hard time early in last year’s meeting, but the Hurricanes clamped down and Mark Richt improved to 14-2 against the Yellow Jackets … Manny Diaz showed his smarts (and his heart) in that game … Georgia Tech loses quarterback Justin Thomas. Who’s next? That’s unclear … Opens with a sneaky-good Labor Day pairing: Tennessee, in Atlanta on Sept. 4 … Other non-league games: Jacksonville State, UCF and the rival Georgia … Plays Clemson on the road.

SYRACUSE
syracuse-logoWhen: Saturday, Oct. 21
Where:
 Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens (64,982).
Last year: 4-8, 2-6 ACC.
January rankings: Finished 96th in USA Today postseason rankings … national title odds: 500-to-1.
Last meeting with Miami:
 lost 17-10 at No. 14 Miami, 2003.
Of note: First Canes-Orange game since the Big East days … Miami won its last five, after the Donovan McNabb game in 1998. It was one of the most lopsided losses in Hurricanes history … Will Gus Edwards be involved in this game? UM says no … With or without him, second-year Orange coach Dino Babers has an intriguing offense, which put up 61 points in a loss to Pitt … A big reason for the early season success: quarterback Eric Dungey, who missed the final three games because of head/shoulder issues. He is healthy now, according to a report … Fixing defense is key issue; Orange gave up 76 to Pitt, 62 to Louisville, 54 to Clemson, 50 to Notre Dame, 45 to FSU and USF … Only FBS team to score less than 20: Virginia Tech, which was No. 17 when it surprisingly lost 31-17 in the Carrier Dome. The Hokies soundly beat Miami the following week at home … Another brutal schedule for the Orange: LSU, FSU, Clemson Louisville, Pitt and Miami. Even Central Michigan and Middle Tennessee were tough last year … Losing star receiver Amba Etta-Tawo and field-flipping return man Brisly Estime (Atlantic High) won’t help.

NORTH CAROLINA
When: Saturday, Oct. 28
Where: 
Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C. (63,000).
Last year: 8-5, 5-3 ACC. Lost to Stanford 25-23 in Sun Bowl.
January rankings: Finished 43rd in USA Today postseason rankings … received votes in final AP poll (essentially, 39th) … National title odds 300-to-1. 
Last meeting with Miami:
 won 20-13 at UM on Oct. 15, 2016.
Of note: Should be good enough to get back to a bowl, despite major losses on offense (quarterback Mitch Trubisky, running back Elijah Hood, receivers Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard and Mack Hollins) and turnover at nearly every position … The offense could turn to redshirt freshman quarterback Chazz Surratt or last year’s backup, Nathan Elliott … Lost three of last four to close 2016, including one-point loss to four-win Duke, seven-point loss at home to rival N.C. State, and a Sun Bowl loss to a Christian McCaffrey-less Stanford … Hosts Louisville, but non-league slate (California, Notre Dame, Western Carolina and Old Dominion, the latter on the road) is less than stout.

VIRGINIA TECH
When:
 Saturday, Nov. 4
Where:
 Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens (64,982).
Last year: 
10-4, 6-2 ACC. Lost to No. 3 Clemson 42-25 in ACC championship. Beat Arkansas 35-24 in Belk Bowl.
January rankings:
 Ranked 18th in USA Today postseason rankings … finished 16th in final AP poll … national title odds: 45-to-1. 
Last meeting with Miami:
won 37-16 in Blacksburg on Oct. 20, 2016.
Of note: Stellar debut for coach Justin Fuente, which won the Coastal and handed UM its worst loss of the year … He loses a lot, though: receivers Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges and quarterback Jerod Evans, and has a load of questions entering the spring … The Hokies were good, but they did get Miami at its weakest point last year: a road game on a five-day break, with multiple starters and regulars injured, after two tight losses that all but knocked them the Hurricanes out of Coastal contention … Virginia Tech sacked Brad Kaaya a career-high eight times and UM couldn’t get anything going on the ground … The Hokies start 2017 with West Virginia in Landover, Md., and plays Delaware (home), East Carolina (road) and Old Dominion (home) in the first four weeks … Draws Clemson in crossover play.

NOTRE DAME
When: Saturday, Nov. 11
Where:
 Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens (64,982).
Last year: 
4-8.
January rankings: Finished 82nd in USA Today postseason rankings … national title odds: 65-to-1. 
Last meeting with Miami:
won 30-27 at South Bend on Oct. 29, 2016.
Of note: Last year’s meeting was expected to be Miami’s toughest game of the season: a road game against an ancient rival with a top-10-worthy team … Notre Dame didn’t live up to that billing, but Miami lost a tight one after falling in a hole early … That game, with its miscues and close calls, was perhaps the low point of UM’s season. The Hurricanes won their final five afterward … No bye for the Irish this year before Miami. They’re off Oct. 14, then host USC, North Carolina State and Wake Forest in successive weeks before their South Florida trip … It is the first Miami-Notre Dame game at UM since 1989 … Suffice to say the natives are restless in South Bend, with coach Brian Kelly running a program they feel is going backward … With quarterback DeShone Kizer declaring for the draft and Malik Zaire transferring, redshirt sophomore Brandon Wimbush (who was recruited by Miami and took two unofficial visit to UM as a recruit) is the favorite to start … The Irish lost offensive coordinator Mike Sanford (Western Kentucky) and play-caller Mike Denbrock (Cincinnati) and replaced him with Kelly – who will call plays – and Memphis’ Chip Long (as offensive coordinator) … Nearly every assistant will be new as Kelly, who is under contract through 2021 but reportedly looked around at season’s end, tries to right the ship.

VIRGINIA
When:
 Saturday, Nov. 18
Where: 
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens (64,982).
Last year: 2-10, 1-7 ACC.
January rankings: Finished 113th in USA Today postseason rankings … national title odds: 500-to-1. 
Last meeting with Miami:
 lost 34-14 at Charlottesville, Nov. 12, 2016.
Of note: Tough 2016 for new coach Bronco Mendenhall … Only two Power Five teams (Kansas, Rutgers) finished lower in USA Today’s postseason rankings than the Cavaliers, who lost their last seven games …  The biggest offseason news in Charlottesville: two juniors, linebacker Micah Kiser and safety Quin Blanding, returned for their senior seasons. The loss of both would have been devastating … Receiver Olamide Zaccheaus returning is a plus, too … Quarterback Kurt Benkert struggled last year, but a year’s experience should help … UVa eases into 2017, with an opening month of William & Mary, Indiana and UConn at home, and Boise State on the road … Crossover games: Louisville road, Boston College home.

PITTSBURGH
pitt-script-logoWhen: Friday, Nov. 24
Where: 
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh (68,400).
Last year: 
8-5, 5-3 ACC. Lost 31-24 to Northwestern in Pinstripe Bowl.
January rankings: Finished 31st in USA Today postseason rankings … earned votes in final AP poll (essentially 31st) … national title odds: 300-to-1.
Last meeting with Miami:
lost 51-28 at UM, Nov. 5, 2016.
Of note: Plucky Panthers beat Clemson and Penn State, which was pretty impressive … Just like Miami, lost three games by a combined 11 points and felt it was a better team than its record showed … UM handed Pitt its worst loss of the season … Must replace running back James Conner and offensive coordinator Matt Canada (who bolted for LSU) … New quarterback is USC transfer Max Browne, who, like ex-Canes QB Jake Heaps, is a former five-star recruit from Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline High … Also signed offensive lineman Jerry Drake from Palm Beach Gardens. Like Browne, he enrolled early … Panthers avoid Clemson, FSU and Louisville in ACC crossover play, but get Penn State on the road … Syracuse and N.C. State are the crossover games … Also hosts Oklahoma State, Youngstown State and Rice.

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Note: Miami has 65-to-1 odds to win the 2017 national title on Jan. 8, according to VegasInsider, and finished 25th in USA Today’s Jan. 2017 rankings. The Hurricanes were 20th in the final Associated Press top 25 after finishing 9-4 (5-3 ACC) and beating No. 16 West Virginia 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Click here for the conference-wide ACC schedule.