Recruiting: 2019 OL Brandon Cunningham commits to Miami Hurricanes

A general view of a helmet at Miami practice at Greentree Fields, Aug. 2016. (Miami Herald)
A general view of a helmet at Miami practice at Greentree Fields, Aug. 2016. (Miami Herald)

Brandon Cunningham, a Mississippi-based offensive tackle in the 2019 class, became the latest player to commit to Miami.

He pledged to UM on Saturday at Paradise Camp, according to InsideTheU and Canesport.

Cunningham, rated four stars by 247Sports and three stars by Rivals, plays at St. Martin High in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

He is listed at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds. Canesport noted he was offered by Miami as an O-lineman, but could switch to defense in college.

Cunningham also held offers from Memphis and Southern Mississippi, according to 247Sports.

He becomes the fifth player in Miami’s 2019 class, joining linebackers Jesiah Pierre and Diamante Howard, wide receiver Brieon Fuller and defensive lineman Derick Hunter.

More from Paradise Camp 2017: 

[Richt, old Canes fired up about future]

[Young Playmaker: Irvin high on UM’s Richards]

[Four-star 2019 OL commits to Miami]

[Catching up with Ed Reed]

[Camp speeches: Reed | Irvin]


Paradise Camp 2017: Mark Richt performs annual backflip, top recruits expected to attend Saturday

Mark Richt has taken his annual Paradise plunge.

Growing up in Boca Raton, the future Hurricanes quarterback and head coach learned a fun party trick: how to execute a single backflip off the high-dive, falling backward and hitting the water feet-first. He perfected it during his college days, hanging out at the UM pool, and used to entertain his players and staff at Georgia by doing it during training camp.

Seeing their coach go head-first from 10 meters up — nearly 33 feet — at about 7 mph always got a big cheer.

[Related: Mark Richt was in a jeans commercial in 1982]

Last year, he started a new Miami tradition, flying high off that familiar platform and splashing down to set off the program’s new Paradise Camp recruiting event. Friday he did it again, in front of dozens of players and recruits at a pool party on campus:

Not everyone’s dive was as clean as his, though.

Some went with a forward flip:

And some went down the easy way:

Friday was devoted to underclassmen, but Paradise Camp continues Saturday with some of the best 11th- and 12th-grade talents in the Southeast. They will compete in drills and be coached by a host of former Hurricanes stars. Click here for a list.

Miami 2018 commits expected to attend, according to 247Sports, include:

Five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard
Four-star running back Cam’Ron Davis
Four-star receivers Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins
Four-star tight end Will Mallory
Four-star offensive linemen Cleveland Reed, John Campbell and Delone Scaife
Four-star defensive tackle Nesta Silvera and end Gregory Rousseau
Four-star defensive backs Josh Jobe, Al Blades Jr., Gurvan Hall and three-star D.J. Ivey 

Uncommitted recruits of note expected to attend, per 247, include wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, defensive end Kayode Oladele, cornerback Nigel Bethel and 2019 quarterback Zamar Wise. The Post reported two cornerbacks from Palm Beach County, Florida State commit Akeem Dent, a former UM pledge, and Kaiir Elam, will attend.

Recruiting: Ed Reed among guest coaches for Miami Hurricanes Paradise Camp 2017


Mark Richt, apparently, does not plan to mess with success.

The second edition of his Paradise Camp will look a lot like the first, with former Hurricanes stars serving as guest coaches to dozens of the nation’s top high school recruits. In the week leading up to the event, Richt tweeted his roster of guest coaches.

Monday, he named four: former UM linebackers Jonathan Vilma, Jon Beason and D.J. Williams, and tight end Jeremy Shockey.

Tuesday, running backs Willis McGahee and Najeh Davenport were added, along with receivers Devin Hester and Michael Irvin.

Wednesday, he named Bryant McKinnie and Brett Romberg, who will mentor the big men up front, and defensive backs Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips.

Thursday, two more well known names: defensive linemen Vince Wilfork and Calais Campbell. 

On Friday, Richt dropped a fan favorite: Ed Reed, one of the greatest safeties in history.

Last year, the event debuted with Ray Lewis and Michael Irvin speaking to attendees, UM coaches and former players instructing recruits through drills and everyone — really, everyone — giving positive reviews. Even the lightning decided to stay away.

The invite-only camp, which runs Friday for ninth- and 10th-graders and Saturday for those entering grades 11 and 12, will be held on UM’s intramural fields. The program is building a $34 million indoor practice facility on its usual practice home, Greentree.

Recruiting: DL Derick Hunter commits to Miami Hurricanes

Derick Hunter (247Sports)
Derick Hunter (247Sports)

The Hurricanes have the consensus No. 1 recruiting class for 2018 and are adding more talent for the coming years.

The latest prospect to commit: defensive lineman Derick Hunter, a two-way 2019 prospect from Fort Myers-Dunbar High.

Hunter, listed at 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds, is rated four stars by Rivals and 247Sports.

“My mind [has] been made up” for some time now, he tweeted.

He told 247Sports that Miami wants him to play defensive tackle. That website’s early rankings peg Hunter as the 13th-best strongside defensive end in the nation for next year’s cycle.

UM’s 2019 recruiting class also includes four-star wide receiver Brieon Fuller and three-star linebackers Diamante Howard and Jesiah Pierre.

Hunter, who also plays tight end, is being recruited by Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon and others.

See his highlights here:


Recruiting: WR Brieon Fuller commits to Miami Hurricanes

Mark Richt addresses reporters before Miami visits Georgia Tech. (Matt Porter)
Mark Richt picked up another recruit on Wednesday. (Matt Porter)

The Hurricanes have a lot of quality players committed for 2018, but also have an eye on 2019.

Wide receiver Brieon Fuller committed to UM on Wednesday, becoming the third high school junior-to-be to give a public pledge.

Fuller, listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds by 247Sports, plays at Doral Academy. According to 247Sports, he had 19 catches for 442 yards and seven touchdowns last year. He is rated by the website as a four-star prospect and the 149th-best player in the class.

Rivals rates him as a four-star prospect. ESPN has not rated him.

See his highlights here:

UM’s 2019 class also includes linebackers Jesiah Pierre and Diamante Howard. 

Miami Hurricanes recruiting honor roll: Track and field personal bests of UM recruits

Running back Lorenzo Lingard is one of the top hurdlers and sprinters in the Southeast U.S. (247Sports)
Running back Lorenzo Lingard, a 2018 Miami commit, is one of the top hurdlers and sprinters in the Southeast U.S. (247Sports)

Miami signee D.J. Johnson’s impressive sprint times – 11.22 in the 100, 23.79 in the 200 at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds – had me thinking of a feature we used to run when I covered high school sports.

Here’s the spring track honor roll, with a Miami bent.

A caveat: Not all football players compete in track, and not all fast, strong, explosive football players are great track athletes. But here’s saluting the recorded accomplishments of those who will wear the ‘U’ in the future (or already do) — such as running back commit Lorenzo Lingard, who wants to compete in the 2020 Olympics.

Notable personal bests of Hurricanes recent signees/commits

All results from and from the 2017 outdoor season, unless otherwise noted.

100-meter dash

10.71 – Lorenzo Lingard, 2018 RB
10.73 – Jhavonte Dean, 2017 CB**
10.78 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR*
10.90 – Josh Jobe, 2018 CB*
11.07 – Trajan Bandy, 2017 CB
11.11 – Robert Burns, 2017 RB**
11.19 – Daquris Wiggins, 2018 WR

200-meter dash

21.52 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR
21.56 – Josh Jobe, 2018 CB*
21.94 – Lorenzo Lingard, 2018 RB
22.31 – Daquris Wiggins, 2018 WR
22.62 – Avantae Williams, 2020 ATH
22.87 – De’Andre Wilder, 2017 LB*

400-meter dash

48.16 – Jhavonte Dean, 2017 CB**
48.80 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR
51.78 – Demetrius Ivey, 2018 CB

110-meter hurdles

13.94 – Lorenzo Lingard, 2018 RB
14.38 – Gurvan Hall, 2018 S*
14.99 – Will Mallory, 2018 TE

300-meter hurdles

36.63 – Lorenzo Lingard, 2018 RB
39.45 – Gurvan Hall, 2018 S*
39.58 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR
40.09 – Will Mallory, 2018 TE

Long jump

21’9.5” – Gurvan Hall, 2018 S
21’5.75” – DeeJay Dallas, 2017 WR*
19’9.75” – Evidence Njoku, 2017 WR**

Triple jump

43’4” – Josh Jobe, 2018 CB
43’1.5” – Demetrius Ivey, 2018 CB
42’2” – Evidence Njoku, 2017 WR**

4X100 relay

40.97 – Josh Jobe, 2018 CB (and UM 2017 CB signee Trajan Bandy, UF 2018 CB signee Christopher Henderson and 2018 WR Tyler Harrell)

4X200 relay

1:27.51 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR (and Tucker Conine, Justin Brown and Elijah Moore)
1:29.63 – Avantae Williams, 2020 ATH (and Javion Goosby, Emmanuel Hinds and Jeremy Wilson)

4X400 relay

3:15.44 – Mike Harley, 2017 WR (and UM 2018 CB target Al Blades Jr., Justin Brown and Jermaine Byrd)
3:19.58 – Gurvan Hall, 2018 S (and Kevin Mitchell, Jimmy Hicks, Nick Hollis)

Shot put

47’1” – D.J. Johnson, 2017 DE
43’2.75” – Zach Dykstra, 2017 OL*
42’9.5” – Jesiah Pierre, 2019 LB
39’3.5” – Cleveland Reed, 2018 OG
39’3” – Brian Polendey, 2017 TE**


155’1.75” – Jesiah Pierre, 2019 LB
111’1.5” – Zalon’tae Hillery, 2017 OT
108’2” – Brian Polendey, 2017 TE**
97’8.5” – Cleveland Reed, 2018 OG

* 2016 result
** 2015 result

Official: Mark Richt can lock up that No. 1-rated recruiting class earlier

Camron Davis poses with Miami coach Mark Richt. (Twitter)
Miami-Carol City High running back Cam’Ron Davis poses with Miami coach Mark Richt. Davis and other top recruits will be allowed to sign with their chosen college during a three-day window in December, in addition to the traditional “national signing day”
in February. (Twitter)

An early signing period, which needed the final approval of a governing body separate from the NCAA, received the go-ahead Monday and will be in play this December.

After the approval of the Collegiate Commissioners Association, recruits may now sign binding letters of intent during a 72-hour window that begins Dec. 20.

The NCAA needed the outside approval because it follows the National Letter of Intent program, which the CCA controls.

The early signing period is in addition to the traditional start of the signing period (“national signing day”), which begins the first Wednesday in February (Feb. 7 in 2018).

The early signing period coincides with the Dec. 20 start of the junior college signing period, which runs until Jan. 15, 2018.

It’s something recruits “wanted and will take advantage of,” UM Athletics Director Blake James said last month, when the NCAA’s Division 1 Council approved multiple college football changes, including the addition of a 10th assistant coach, giving permission for recruits to take official visits the spring of their junior year and the elimination of two-a-day practices. James also chairs the D1 council.

Miami’s recruiting class is rated No. 1 by a consensus of Rivals, 247Sports, ESPN and Scout. Several players, including five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard and four-star quarterback Artur Sitkowski, have stated their intention to enroll at UM in January.

Recruiting: Akeem Dent decommits from Miami Hurricanes

Pahokee High cornerback Akeem Dent (11) reacts to a big hit in the fourth quarter during Pahokee's win over Baker in the FHSAA Class 1A state football championship at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on December 8, 2016. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
Pahokee High cornerback Akeem Dent (11) reacts to a big hit in the fourth quarter during Pahokee’s win over Baker in the FHSAA Class 1A state football championship at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on December 8, 2016. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

One of the top players in the country for 2019, Palm Beach Central’s Akeem Dent, is no longer committed to Miami.

Dent, rated by 247Sports as the No. 1 cornerback in his class, shared that news in a tweet on Monday. He did not give a specific reason.

Dent, who has played at Royal Palm Beach and Pahokee in the past two years, transferred to Palm Beach Central after winning a state title with Pahokee as a sophomore. He committed to UM at Paradise Camp last July, saying he “wanted to be a part” of the “legends and the legacy” at the school.

“Being here and being a part of this makes me feel like I belong here,” Dent told The Post at the time.

Miami now has two players committed for 2019: five-star linebacker Diamante Howard (Miami Southridge High) and unranked linebacker Jesiah Pierre (Mount Dora-Christian Home and Bible).

UM has the nation’s top-ranked class for 2018, a group that includes five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard. Lingard had a message for Dent after he announced his decision:

Recruiting: 2018 names to watch, Miami Hurricanes key positions of need

Mark Pope, considered one of the best wide receivers in the 2018 class, is high on Miami. (247Sports)
Mark Pope, considered one of the best wide receivers in the 2018 class, is high on Miami. (247Sports)

Even in the hours before signing day, coaches thinking about recruits who are two, three, even four years away from college. So no, it’s not too early to look ahead to 2018, though 2017 recruits signed two weeks ago.

This weekend the Hurricanes will host their first on-campus event for the next group of recruits. Recruits in the 2018 classes and younger will unofficially (read: they, not Miami, pay their way) tour the school, meet coaches and players and are given free tickets to the UM-Clemson basketball game.

Here are the positions Miami needs to recruit in the next cycle, in order of general importance (all star rankings via 247Sports composite):

Defensive back: The main reason the Hurricanes weren’t too concerned about missing on several talented cornerback recruits in 2017: the local talent in 2018 is outstanding. Four-star commits Josh Jobe and Gilbert Frierson, who reportedly plan to attend Junior Day, may be joined by uncommitted five-star Patrick Surtain Jr. and four-star Tyson Campbell, both of Plantation-American Heritage; four-stars Al Blades Jr. and Asante Samuel Jr. (Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas) and safety Gurvan Hall (Palm Beach Lakes). All are nationally desired recruits Miami wants to keep home.

Wide receiver: UM could sign four to five wide receivers, and South Florida has plenty of options as usual. Four-star wide receiver Mark Pope (Miami Southridge), who will attend Junior Day according to 247Sports, is rated No. 23 among all prospects and No. 4 among wideouts by 247Sports. He is considering UM and Alabama. Brian Hightower (Bradenton-IMG Academy) is another four-star Miami wants to sign.

Defensive line: The Hurricanes are in need of good ones here, as previously noted. Tackle commit Nesta Silvera, who reportedly plans to attend Junior Day, is a significant addition. UM would love to add more tackles and ends to offset the graduation of seniors Chad Thomas, Anthony Moten and Trent Harris and potential losses to the NFL. Five-star tackle Taron Vincent (IMG Academy), is a major target. He is rated 10th overall in 2018 and tops at his position.

Tight end: Losing Chris Herndon to graduation means Miami could enter 2018 with three tight ends on scholarship, none of whom had caught a college pass as of this writing. Two high-caliber signees are needed. One of them could be four-star Brevin Jordan, from Las Vegas-Bishop Gorman, is a teammate of a four-star quarterback of Miami interest, Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Miami has also offered another top-10 recruit at the position, four-star Will Mallory (Jacksonville-Providence).

Running back: Landing five-star Lorenzo Lingard’s commitment recently checked a major box for Miami, which could lose Mark Walton to the NFL draft if he has a good season. Depth is an issue for UM at this position, so expect them to chase at least one (perhaps two) backs in addition to Lingard. It would be a pleasant surprise if five-star James Cook (Miami Central), the brother of former Florida State star Dalvin Cook, opted to stay local.

Linebacker: After signing three in 2017, Miami likes its depth behind rising sophomores Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud. The Hurricanes are likely to sign at least two to three linebackers to challenge for future starting roles. Also interesting: 247Sports reported five-star prospect Owen Pappoe (Loganville, Ga.) will visit. He is rated the No. 2 overall player in 2019.

Quarterback: UM will have three strong underclassmen prospects on campus this fall in true freshmen N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon and redshirt freshman Jack Allison. However, top programs try to land at least one solid prospect per cycle. That could be Thompson-Robinson, IMG Academy’s Artur Sitowski or Casey Thompson (Moore, Okla.), other four-star recruits Miami has offered.

Offensive line: After focusing heavily on its front five in 2017, UM is likely to try to add a few more this cycle. UM recently offered five-star Jackson Carman (Fairfield, Ohio), the No. 1 player at the position, and is after Florida-based four-stars Richard Gouraige (Tampa-Cambridge Christian),  Nicholas Petit-Frere (Tampa-Berkeley Prep) and William Barnes (Apopka).


[Nine Canes invited to the NFL combine]

[UM AD talks IPF, Edwards, facilities, spring game]

[Recruiting: DT Silvera commits to Miami]

Miami OC Thomas Brown: Hurricanes are not ‘thugs and criminals’ 

Offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown said the perception of Miami did not meet his reality. (Matt Porter)

[Could transferring WR Holmes come home to Canes?]

[CB Colbert is back – with scars to prove it]

[Richt not a fan of skipping bowls: ‘Finish what you started’]

Thomas Brown’s first year in Miami has been a year of surprises.

“One of the biggest,” he said, “was how great our kids are.”

Brown, a Georgia native who played for coach Mark Richt at UGA, said the perception of UM — and South Florida players in general — did not match what he learned in year one on the job.

“Coming down here, so many people told me so many negative things about the players in Miami, whether from a recruiting standpoint or on the roster,” said Brown, 31. “There have been very few issues. Those guys have bought into exactly what we’ve asked them to do.”

Brown said he sees a hungry group of players that realizes it could have won more this year. He said they grew close during the four-game losing streak that dropped UM to 4-4 entering November. And with so many of those players coming back, he’s pleased with where UM is.

When he followed Richt here a year ago, he didn’t expect he would wind up feeling this way.

“I thought we’d have to come in and put the hammer down and yell and kick half the team off,” he said. “That’s the perception, of what people say about Miami or Miami kids. Some adults, when I was leaving Georgia coming down here, tried to scare me out of it, scare my wife and kids out of it.

“There are bad things about any place you go, and you can find some negativity if you want to find it. It’s been phenomenal being around our guys. They’re not perfect, but those guys are very coachable. They’re hungry and they want to be great.”

Why did Brown make that point Wednesday?

“I get tired of hearing people spread lies and say negative stuff and you have no proof behind it,” he said. “You can talk about some things that happened a lot of years ago, but let’s talk about currently what’s going on.

“I think from a media standpoint, an entertainment standpoint, people spend more time on negativity. People love to talk about bad stuff. But I think a lot of positive things about our program, and I’m excited about the direction we’re going.”

I took this to mean the image of Miami as a program with “thugs” and “gangsters,” which feels trite, played out (do people really see Miami that way in 2016? Up for discussion, I guess. Sure, Miami has dismissed a few players for rules violations, and NCAA-related issues. But most of the players on the team are pretty nice guys, generally). I asked Brown if some of that The U “bad boy” image helps in recruiting, since a lot of recruits — especially in South Florida — and fans think that the old-school Hurricanes of The U were the coolest teams ever.

“I think it depends on what you define as ‘bad boy image,'” Brown said. “When you’re talking about a team having thugs and criminals, I think that’s idiotic. … If you have the mindset of being a ‘bad boy’ on the field, playing within the rules and hitting people in the mouth, that’s what Miami’s going to be about.”