Projection: All-ACC running back. Lingard has the speed and elusiveness to be a star for the Hurricanes, and the opportunity to shine as a freshman, with UM returning junior Travis Homer, sophomore DeeJay Dallas (a converted receiver) and others who haven’t made an impact yet. ESPN called him “tall with a muscular build and the speed to take it the distance,” and praised him for his vision to “find seams [and] get downhill quickly.” The website called him strong and balanced with a “very impressive blend of size, speed and athleticism … [a] bell cow-type running back at the next level with continued physical development.”
Funfacts: UM’s highest-rated offensive signee since running back Duke Johnson in 2012, and first five-star prospect since defensive end Chad Thomas in 2014 … Johnson was rated 30th nationally, while Lingard is 20 spots ahead … Gatorade Player of the Year in Florida … Cut it up with linebacker Shaq Quarterman in this Post video from last summer’s Paradise Camp … Recruited by everyone, basically: Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas … Army All-American who competed at The Opening … Hosted by Dallas on his UM official visit … Will room with fellow early enrollee Gurvan Hall … Wore No. 1 on his official visit — the number last worn by departing junior Mark Walton.
Aug 29, 2014 – Lorenzo Lingard (@d1champ99) introduces himself to the high school football world against rival Deltona, rushing for 100 yards on 8 carries with 2 TDs in his debut. We’re pleased to note that the polka dot socks have been retired. pic.twitter.com/or9A4xgRFj
Projection: No. 1 wideout. Rivals said he should “make an immediate splash at WR and on special teams as a freshman given his gamebreaking speed and ability.” 247’s scouting notes called him “one of the premier wide receivers in the class of 2018,” even after reclassifying from 2019. “Pope is a bouncy athlete that makes things look effortless when releasing off the line of scrimmage as well,” 247 wrote, and a “crisp route runner that does a nice job of breaking off defenders to get separation, but needs to continue to get bigger and stronger moving forward. Pope is a headache to contain for defensive coordinators with his ability to work underneath and in space.” ESPN said he “has the potential to consistently move the chains at the next level especially if employed from the slot.”
Funfacts: Army All-American who competed at The Opening … from Hialeah … Recruited heavily by Florida and Alabama and others … Wore No. 6 on his UM official visit.
Stats: As a senior, went 4-of-10 on field goals; makes from 54 and 50 yards and a miss from 57; punted for an average of 43 yards; 88 percent of kickoffs were touchbacks. As a junior in 2016, went 5-of-9 with a long of 49 yards and hit all 26 extra points.
Stars: Three (247, ESPN), two (Rivals)
Rank: No. 4 kicker (247Sports, ESPN); N/A (Rivals); No. 2 among kickers by Kohl’s Kicking (note: must have attended camp to be ranked).
Projection: Starting kicker. The Hurricanes this fall will turn from “Badge” to “Bax” (or just Bubba). He’ll also take kickoffs. “His upside is outstanding and his ‘A’ ball is different from the rest of the 2018 class,” Kohl’s Kicking wrote. ESPN’s analysis: “His FG range and KO ability are at the level of what a senior college would be expected to have” … [He] needs to become a more consistent striker of the ball on FG’s [but] has a leg that all the other top players know is different.”
Funfacts: Had offers from Baylor and Army … Wore No. 8 in high school and No. 21 on his official visit … Twitter display name is “Greg the Leg” (not sure why, but please hold your Seventh Floor Crew jokes) … Told Rivals that eight of his 10 field goal attempts were from 40-plus yards and he “had plenty of distance on all of them, and my misses were just barely missing. … I’ll be fine.”
Baxa with special teams coach Todd Hartley and preferred walk-on snapper Clay James:
Projection: Productive starting cornerback. ESPN called Blades a “tall, explosive playmaker,” and said he is “smart with very good instincts. Knows where to be and what to do. Smooth kid who can bend and explode in transition. Has the burst to close on underneath routes in zone. Possesses the speed and savvy to take it to the house from anywhere on the field.” That website’s scouting report called him “thin and will need to put on some good weight. Not exactly a ball hawk and will need to improve ball skills on defense,” but said he comes from excellent bloodlines and should follow in his father and uncle’s footsteps to become a very good college football player.”
Funfacts: Son of former UM safety Al Blades, who died in 2003. His father was a fierce leader (you may remember his NSFW pregame ritual speeches) and two-time All-Big East selection who played at UM from 1996-2000. Al Blades’ older brothers, Bennie and Brian, also shined at UM … The younger Blades, who was 3 when his father died, will wear his No. 7 for the U … Under Armour All-American who competed at The Opening … transferred from Davie-University as a junior … Flashed the ‘U’ while standing on the Florida State logo during an unofficial visit to Tallahassee, prompting Twitter cheers from his future UM teammates … Committed to UM in Feb. 2015, but backed off after Al Golden was fired in October. Re-upped last June.
Projection: Strong-side end. Rousseau’s size and athleticism make for an intriguing combination off the edge. ESPN said he has “rare size and wingspan,” and wrote about his abilities as a receiver. On defense, he “can be [a] solid, reliable wrap-up tackler,” though he “needs to add significant mass to frame”. ESPN called him a “developmental prospect that needs to find his fit and grow into it technically and physically.”
Funfacts: Also had offers from Georgia, Indiana, Iowa State, LSU, Oregon and others … Wore No. 5 in high school and No. 15 on his official UM visit.
Projection: Starter-caliber guard. Once he reshapes his body and learns the playbook, Scaife could be a capable starter. With Trevor Darling graduating at left guard, there’s space for him now, if he’s ready. ESPN’s scouting report said he has “excellent speed and athleticism” for a guard, has the “fluidity and foot quickness to hold up in space” and “flashes the nasty.” ESPN said he could be a “very good guard” with added bulk and polish, though Scaife told Rivals offensive line coach Stacy Searels hasn’t told him whether he will start out playing guard or tackle.
Funfacts: Held offers from North Carolina State, Syracuse, UCF, Marshall, Charlotte, FIU and Southern Miss … Took two unofficial visits to Florida … Hosted by Tyree St. Louis on his UM official visit … Transferred from Miami-Killian High for his senior year … At Southridge, a teammate of receivers and fellow early enrollees Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins … Under Armour All-American … Competed at The Opening.
Projection: Early contributor on special teams or in the cornerback rotation. With Dee Delaney graduating and Michael Jackson entering his senior year (if he doesn’t declare for the draft), Ivey will be in position to challenge for a role as an early enrollee. 247Sports called him an “aggressive defender” who “makes full use of his measurables” and has no trouble making plays on the ball, adding that he can “continue to work on sinking his hips and becoming more fluid in his backpedal.” ESPN called him a “smooth-moving corner who has the size many collegiate programs covet,” and wondered if he might move to safety down the road.
Funfacts: Had offers from Auburn, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville, West Virginia, Syracuse and FAU … Hosted by Jaquan Johnson on him UM official visit … Wore No. 8 on the visit but No. 1 in high school … First name is Demetrius … High school teammate of linebacker Patrick Joyner.
Projection: Starting fullback as a true freshman. After using grad transfer Marquez Williams in Mark Richt’s first season, 2016, the Hurricanes used offensive linemen, walk-on former linebackers and tight ends to play fullback in 2017. “They want me in short yardage, goal line, special teams. Pretty much just catching the ball in the flat. All sorts of stuff,” George told DieHards. “Basically what they did with Marquez and I think I’m going to do a little better.”
Funfacts: Took unofficial visits to UAB and Navy last spring, picked up a UM offer in October and committed after visiting in November … Also had offers from Georgia Southern, Army, Virginia, Boston College and others … Wore No. 2 in high school … Plans to wear No. 44 at UM … Several of his new teammates gave him the nickname “Unc,” short for uncle, for his mature appearance … In that respect, follows in the tradition of former UM fullback Williams, who went by “Pops” … Hosted by middle linebacker Shaq Quarterman on his UM official visit and was recruited by several schools at that position … Told Rivals the highlight of his official visit was “putting on the uniforms … I put the uniform on, I was like ‘I’m telling you, people are going to be in trouble.'”
Now, we’re not saying you should watch all these games. Spending time with loved ones is important, as is doing chores around the house, etc. But maybe you’re looking for a compelling reason to put a game on in the background (or, something to interest you aside from gambling purposes). That in mind, we present a South Florida viewer’s guide to Bowl Season 2017.
Note: Some Miami connections tenuous at best
noon (ABC), Celebration Bowl
It’s the first bowl game of the season! Grambling plays North Carolina A&T in Atlanta, and the only South Florida connection I could find is in the person of Tard McCoy, a fifth-year senior cornerback for NC A&T who played at Boca High. This’ll be his last college game. Shoutout to Tard McCoy.
1 p.m. (ESPN), New Orleans Bowl
Troy vs. North Texas. UNT, where former Hurricane Kevin Patrick coached before taking his current job at North Carolina State, was pounded by FAU in the C-USA title game but has a fun offense. Troy beat LSU, so that counts for something.
2:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network), Cure Bowl
Western Kentucky-Georgia State in Orlando. Fun for the whole family: watch for camera shots of Big Red, WKU’s sweet, lovable, Grimace-like mascot.
3:30 p.m. (ABC), Las Vegas Bowl
The Fighting Cristobals of Oregon take on Boise State in Sin City. Lot of Taggart-Cristobal talk here.
4:30 p.m. (ESPN), New Mexico Bowl
Colorado State vs. Marshall, whose leading receiver is Miami transfer/former South Dade High standout Tyre Brady (56 catches, 777 yards, seven touchdowns). Another ex-Cane, linebacker Juwon Young, has 38 tackles this season. On the other side, former Mark Richt protege Mike Bobo is 21-17 at Colorado State and looking for his first bowl win.
8 p.m. (ESPN) Camellia Bowl
The Hurricanes were unbeaten through Thanksgiving, but that’s probably because they didn’t have to deal with mighty Arkansas State (some in Jonesboromay still believeMiami conjured up Hurricane Irma just to get out a date with the Red Wolves; recall that Scout.com affiliate AStateNation actually published, then removed, an editorial calling UM’s cancellation of the game “a lowbrow scam”). Anyway, that program plays Middle Tennessee in this game. If you’re bored, have at it.
7 p.m. (ESPN), Boca Raton Bowl
Akron-FAU. It’s the only bowl game on this day, Lane Kiffin is involved, and it’s sponsored by Cheribundi Tart Cherry juice. Why not?
8 p.m. (ESPN), Frisco Bowl
Louisiana Tech-SMU. Two Canes connections for La. Tech: Manny Diaz the defensive coordinator in 2014, and the Bulldogs basketball coach is former Jim Larranaga assistant Eric Konkol. SMU has a fun receiver (6-4, 215-pound Courtland Sutton, who may be a first-round pick). Every game ain’t a winner.
8 p.m. (ESPN), Gasparilla Bowl
Take the 20th off, but definitely watch Temple-FIU. Miami actually plays one of these teams (FIU, of course) next season, and that team is coached by Butch Davis. UM plays Temple three years from now. The bowl is sponsored by Bad Boy Mowers, which as best I can tell is not the lawn care division of Sean Combs’ recording empire.
12:30 p.m. (ESPN), Bahamas Bowl
UAB-Ohio in Nassau. Try to guess how many fans will be in attendance! UAB, which shuttered its program for two years, is back, and in a bowl. Fun fact: The Blazers have never played a postseason game in the continental U.S. Their only other bowl appearance was a loss to Hawaii in the 2004 Hawaii Bowl.
4 p.m. (ESPN), Potato Bowl
It’s Central Michigan, which Miami hosts in 2019, against Wyoming, who has top quarterback prospect Josh Allen (who may or may not play).
noon (ESPN), Birmingham Bowl
Texas Tech-South Florida. USF has a bunch of players UM had interest in on the recruiting trail (receiver Darnell Salomon, quarterback Quinton Flowers, defensive back Nick Roberts, running back Jordan Cronkrite, receiver Kevaughn Dingle) and familiar names on the coaching staff, like head man Charlie Strong (formerly of UF and Louisville and one-time favorite to land at UM) and offensive line coach Damon Cogdell (a longtime South Florida preps fixture). Texas Tech is 30-32 under Kliff Kingsbury and I’m surprised the boosters haven’t moved on.
3:30 p.m. (ESPN), Armed Forces Bowl
San Diego State-Army. SDSU running back Rashaad Penny was fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting. That’s about all I’ve got.
7 p.m. (ESPN), Dollar General Bowl
Appalachian State-Toledo, in a battle of teams Miami has played and will play recently (visited App State 2016, hosting 2021; hosted Toledo 2017, visiting 2018). Toledo will be replacing quarterback Logan Woodside, who graduates before Miami visits the Glass Bowl next year.
8:30 p.m. (ESPN), Hawaii Bowl
Houston defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio tries to stifle Fresno State. ‘Nuff said.
1:30 p.m. (ESPN), Heart of Dallas Bowl
Utah-West Virginia. WVU, which Miami beat in last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl, has two former Hurricanes (quarterback Jack Allison and tight end Jovani Haskins, both of whom are sitting out as transfers), six players from South Florida and a kicker (senior Mike Molina) from Hurricane, West Virginia. But Utah has just as much of a South Florida connection: three Hallandale High grads (running back Zack Moss, a former UM commit, receiver Demari Simpkins and quarterback Tyler Huntley), two St. Thomas Aquinas alums (defensive end Chris Hart, running back Devonta’e Henry-Cole) and a Miami Central grad (linebacker Donavan Thompson).
5:15 p.m. (ESPN), Quick Lane Bowl
Duke-Northern Illinois. Miami, which beat Duke 31-6 on Sept. 29, is not going to Detroit this bowl season. It’s at this point we should pour one out for North Carolina, Pitt, Georgia Tech and Syracuse, the UM ACC foes who did not qualify for bowls.
9 p.m. (ESPN), Cactus Bowl
Kansas State-UCLA. Likely former UM offensive coordinator Jeff Fisch’s last game as UCLA’s play-caller, with new boss Chip Kelly in town.
1:30 p.m. (ESPN), Independence Bowl
Florida State extends its bowl streak by playing Southern Miss in Shreveport. Game is sponsored by Walk-On’s, a local bar and grill which, because it is located in Louisiana, calls itself a “bistreaux.” If the Neauxls don’t win, they’ll finish belueax .500.
5:15 p.m. (ESPN), Pinstripe Bowl
In recent years, this was an appealing bowl destination for UM. No longer. This edition is Iowa-Boston College, and if you’re looking to advance-scout, Miami visits BC in ACC crossover play next fall.
8:30 p.m. (FOX), Foster Farms Bowl
Arizona-Purdue. The super-exciting Khalil Tate and Arizona vs. Jeff Brohm’s Purdue (not your grandfather’s Purdue, your dad’s Purdue, or even your older brother’s Purdue). For purely football reasons, this is a fun one.
9 p.m. (ESPN), Texas Bowl
Texas-Missouri. Mizzou, despite no longer employing Craig Kuligowski, finished 2017 on a good run. Notes on three Texas players: cornerback Davante Davis (of Miami-Booker T. Washington), wideout Lil’Jordan Humphrey (amazing name) and wideout Jordan Pouncey (like Davis, considered UM as a recruit, cousin of the NFL’s Pouncey twins, and according to his school bio, “a very good drummer”).
1:30 p.m. (ESPN), Military Bowl
Watch Virginia, one of UM’s Coastal Division foes, take on Navy in a game that’s sure to include a lot of pageantry and Kurt Benkert going 18-for-19 (wait, he only does that against Miami?)
5:15 p.m. (ESPN), Camping World Bowl
The former Russell Athletic Bowl is a matchup of ranked teams: No. 22 Virginia Tech vs. No. 19 Oklahoma State. Very watchable game.
9 p.m. (ESPN), Alamo Bowl
Another fun matchup: Heisman finalist Bryce Love and No. 13 Stanford vs. No. 15 TCU.
9 p.m. (FOX), Holiday Bowl
No. 18 Washington State, 2015 UM bowl opponent, against No. 16 Michigan State (which UM plays in 2021, for what it’s worth). Any Wazzu game comes with a Mike Leach Antics Advisory.
1 p.m. (ESPN), Belk Bowl
Wake Forest-Texas A&M. Wake quarterback John Wolford is the ACC’s 2017 winner of the Hey Wait, He’s Actually Pretty Good Award, given to the player no one was talking up before the season began. Sour Patch Wolford led the league in passer rating.
No. 8 USC vs. No. 5 Ohio State. Should be a good one. This is the best game of the day.
noon (ESPN), TaxSlayer Bowl
Louisville vs. No. 23 Mississippi State. You know you want to watch Lamar’s last college game, especially if you forgot about him this year because Louisville was otherwise hard to watch. Cards visit Miami in 2019, by the way.
12:30 p.m (ABC), Liberty Bowl
Iowa State vs. No. 20 Memphis. The Tigers, who lost 62-55 to UCF in the AAC championship, can Put Up Points. Iowa State beat Oklahoma on the road — one of the more surprising results of 2017 — and took down TCU. But this is Lamar’s time slot.
4 p.m. (ESPN), Fiesta Bowl
Get your Penn State hate on, as the ninth-ranked Nittany Lions face 11th-ranked Washington. Maybe this is on in the background as you prep for the main event.
8 p.m. (ESPN), Orange Bowl
The main event. No. 10 Miami vs. No. 6 Wisconsin at Hard Rock. Canes look to finish with at least 11 wins for the first time since 2003 and 12th time in program history.
noon (ESPN2), Outback Bowl
Michigan-South Carolina is a decent matchup, but this is mostly worth watching for the third quarter, when SB Nation writer and Tampa native Ryan Nanni, after a successful Twitter campaign, gets to perform as the Bloomin’ Onion mascot.
12:30 p.m. (ESPN), Peach Bowl
No. 12 UCF vs. No. 7 Auburn in the final game of the Scott Frost Era. Should be fun.
1 p.m. (ABC), Citrus Bowl
It’s a smorgasbord of New Year’s goodness. Flip over and watch a team the Hurricanes beat handily (No. 14 Notre Dame) in 2017 play the team Miami faces to open 2018 (No. 17 LSU). Canes will face LSU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 1.
5 p.m. (ESPN), Rose Bowl
Playoff time. No. 3 Georgia and its stifling defense against Heisman winner Baker Mayfield and No. 2 Oklahoma. I can’t wait to watch this game. Mark Richt probably feels the same.
8:45 p.m. (ESPN), Sugar Bowl
The second 2017 semifinal includes No. 1 Clemson, which Canes fans hope to meet in next year’s ACC title game, against No. 4 Alabama.
8 p.m. (ESPN)
National title game in Atlanta. Watch and dream of Miami making it to Santa Clara, California, in 2019.