The programs, who played yearly from 1944-87, have not since 2013. UM AD Blake James has consistently said he wants to play UF on a regular basis, while his Gators counterpart, Jeremy Foley, has been less enthusiastic. James in 2014 said UF “made it clear” it isn’t interested in a resurrection of the yearly series (more on that here).
Richt was speaking on the second day of his on-campus football camp for local high school prospects, an event that drew several local 7-on-7 teams (the American Heritages of Delray and Plantation; Santaluces, Coral Gables, Miami-Killian among them) and a bunch of quality linemen, who participated in their own camp. UM’s coaching staff (and several players) watched them show their stuff.
Those who stood out in 7-on-7 work included defensive backs Patrick Surtain Jr. and Marco Wilson of Plantation-American Heritage, and Gilbert Frierson of Coral Gables. Surtain (whose ex-Dolphin father now coaches Heritage) and Wilson (son of ex-Cane Chad and brother of current Gator Quincy) are UM targets in the current class, while Frierson is a long-limbed Hurricanes commit for 2018.
Elsewhere, Richt was asked if he liked the ACC’s reported consideration of an additional conference game, bumping the regular-season slate from eight ACC games to nine (the idea being, as the writer David Teel lays out here, that a potential ESPN-run ACC TV network would want more “inventory”). Richt said he preferred the flexibility of eight league games, as he had in the SEC.
“If we play Florida every year, like Miami used to, then you’ve got eight and then Florida, then you’ve got to decide what you’re going to do after that,” he said, I think eight is good, I think it gives us flexibility. But I won’t be making the final decision on that one.”
Speaking before Thursday’s camp, Richt addressed the status of suspended running back Mark Walton, confirming that he is still a member of the team and working out, though he did not detail any additional punishment.
He also spoke about his reasons for pledging $1 million toward Miami’s yet-to-be-announced indoor practice facility.
“Probably, first is we need it,” he said. “Second would probably be it’s my alma mater. That’s probably tied for first. Just being here, living it out and knowing why it’s so important. I’m serious about getting it done. We must get it done. We’re gonna get it done.
“And the other thing is, I want people to understand I’m all in. I’m Miami, that’s it for me. I’m not going anywhere else. This is where I want to finish my coaching career and I want it to be great. … I think it helps other donors to see my commitment. I think it helps recruits see my commitment. It helps our current and former players, alums, say, ‘Hey, this guy is serious about trying to make this place the best it could possibly be.”
Major programs coming to recruit Miami’s backyard is nothing new, but in the satellite camp era, prepare to see a lot more of this.
Auburn, which has eight Miami natives on its roster, will hold a camp June 10 at Gibson Park in Overtown — just eight miles from UM’s campus.
A report from our sister site, SEC Country, said Auburn will send its entire coaching staff to the camp, during which it will “join forces with Booker T. Washington High” and four other area schools.
On an Instagram promo posted by Booker T., the logos of Miami Central, Miami Northwestern, Miami-Carol City and Miami Southridge were shown. Those are five of the top high school football programs in South Florida.
Wonder if Mark Richt‘s coaching staff will stop by. It is a public place, after all.
Satellite camps, a term coined by Penn State coach James Franklin in 2014, allow college coaches to work as guests at camps hosted by other institutions. The NCAA prohibits college from hosting camps beyond a 50-mile radius from campus, but nothing prohibits coaches from stepping outside that boundary to guest-coach at other schools.
Though allowed by the NCAA for several years, the issue blew up when Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh announced a seven-state, nine-camp tour this summer (which has since expanded greatly, Harbaugh being Harbaugh).
The ACC and SEC, which didn’t like Big Ten coaches setting up shop to recruit in their home states, decried the practice; both conferences already prohibited its coaches from serving as guest-coaches. The NCAA banned satellite camps April 8, but the ban lasted all of 20 days.
While college programs have heavily recruited South Florida for years, only a few have participated in satellite camps there. USF, which has one scheduled for July near the campus of Krop High, and Nebraska have hosted camps near UM’s campus in recent years.
Before setting up in Overtown, Auburn previously considered visiting Tampa Catholic High, SEC Country said. The Tigers will participate in two other satellite camps in Georgia and one in Mississippi. The Miami camp is the only one directly tied to a high school.
The undisputed satellite camp king is Michigan, which has scheduled 38 satellite camps this summer — including locations as far-flung as Australia and American Samoa. Stateside, the Wolverines will get as far south as Fort Lauderdale.
That’s part of the game, as is direct messaging on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. In many cases — such as with Twitter direct messaging — coaches and recruits had to mutually follow each other to be able to communicate (this is in addition to the more regulated phone calls and in-person visits, of course). Now, with the NCAA allowing coaches unlimited texts with recruits, “everybody knows [recruits’] numbers or they get them pretty easily,” Richt said, speaking to five reporters after the event. “It’s going to be tougher on them than it’s going to be on us.”
Is there ever a time a recruit can’t reach him?
“If I am in church, I shut my phone off,” Richt said. “There aren’t many times [it is off]. Like my wife’s graduation [from nursing school] the other night, my phone was off. But most of the time you’ve got to have it on, and quite frankly, if there’s a number I don’t recognize it, I’m usually answering it because it could be a recruit and I can’t call him back, especially if they’re younger. If they’re [in the] 2017 class, you might be able to text him, ‘Hey, call me back.’ If they’re younger, if you don’t answer the phone, you can’t even text them to say, ‘Hey, I missed your call. Call me back.’ A lot of those younger kids, you pick up the phone.”
Richt is giving his number out all across the country, especially in the Southeast, and especially this month when high school spring football is humming along. His assistants are on the road recruiting Monday through Thursday, reconvening in the office on Friday to cross-check what they’ve seen and strategize about where to go next.
One important activity: players are rated on a scale, where a “1” recruit is a “no-brainer,” in Richt’s words, a player everyone wants; a “2” is a player worthy of an offer, “3” is close to being worthy of an offer, “4” is someone UM wouldn’t take and “5” is a quality walk-on.
How many “1s” are in South Florida? “There’s a boatload,” Richt said. “We got plenty of 1s, 2s and 3s on the board from all over the state, all over the country. There’s more than we can take, that’s for sure.”
Richt said he’s recruiting in Georgia — where he has deep ties and plenty of respect from his 15 years as UGA’s coach — and said UM will hit “all the way down the coast” this month.
“There are kids we’ve seen video on that have interest,” he said. “If we think the interest is sincere, we’ll go. I’m sure we’ll end up in California, all around the country. The Southeast region is where we’re going to be spending most of the time, and obviously right down here in South Florida.
“Guys are being very thorough, doing a good job of bringing back the information, creating the relationship with the coaches. … Everybody is going to be feeling their way around a little bit, creating new friendships, new relationships that will help us recruit their players. It works both ways. Those coaches get excited about their young men getting opportunities to play college ball. We obviously need those kids to help us have success. It’s a good relationship if you do it right.
“I think the big thing is we are up front and honest about everything and all the decisions we make. … When you build trust, you have a chance to recruit down here.”
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.”
He has not been given a star rating, but according to 247Sports, he is one of the top defensive backs in Florida in his class. He recently picked up offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, USC and West Virginia, among others.
Frierson is the fifth commitment in Miami’s 2018 class, joining athlete Jalen Patterson, cornerbacks Thomas Burns and Josh Jobe and wide receiver Daquris Wiggins. All but Patterson, who hails from the Orlando-area community of Citra, are from Miami.
UM is also expected to pursue 2018 defensive backs Al Blades Jr., a former commit and the son of the late former UM safety, and Patrick Surtain Jr., whose father played for the Dolphins.