MIAMI 2018 EARLY SIGNEES
(click names for bios, fun facts and more)
QB Jarren Williams, RB Lorenzo Lingard, RB Camron Davis, FB Realus George, WR Mark Pope, WR Brian Hightower, WR Dee Wiggins, TE Brevin Jordan, TE Will Mallory, OL John Campbell, OL Delone ‘DJ’ Scaife, DE Greg Rousseau, LB Patrick Joyner, CB Al Blades Jr., CB DJ Ivey, S Gurvan Hall. S Gilbert Frierson, K Bubba Baxa
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CORAL GABLES — No surprises.
Well, maybe one — “It surprised me that it went so smoothly,” Mark Richt said.
But certainly no worries.
And no question Miami added a wealth of talent to its program Wednesday, announcing before 1:30 p.m. on the first NCAA-permitted early national signing day that 18 of its 20 commits were locked in. All sent in letters of intent.
One of the holdouts, four-star offensive lineman Cleveland Reed, said he plans to sign Thursday. The other, four-star defensive tackle Nesta Silvera, will sign in February so he can visit UM in January along with three Plantation-American Heritage teammates: five-star cornerbacks Tyson Campbell and Patrick Surtain Jr., and four-star defensive end Andrew Chatfield, all of whom are priority targets for the Canes.
“We’ll see how that goes,” Richt said at a 4 p.m. press conference announcing the class, which finished the day ranked fifth in Rivals and ESPN’s rankings, and sixth according to 247Sports. It is Miami’s highest-rated class since 2008, which was considered a top-five group.
“We don’t think we’re done yet,” Richt said, noting there could be “one or two more” signees this week. The early signing period ends Friday. Recruits can sign again beginning Feb. 7.
“Everyone who expected to sign for us, did,” Richt said of Wednesday’s results.
What a haul it was.
Miami landed a host of elite recruits, particularly on offense. Quarterback Jarren Williams, running back Lorenzo Lingard, wide recievers Mark Pope and Brian Hightower, tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory and offensive lineman Delone ‘DJ’ Scaife each were selected to play in the All-American games sponsored by the U.S. Army or Under Armour.
Lingard is a consensus five-star prospect and No. 10 nationally according to Rivals’ rankings, UM’s highest-rated signee since offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson in 2010 and UM’s sixth-highest-rated signee since Rivals began ranking players online in 2002 (more below). Pope is also a five-star, per Rivals.
Two other offensive prospects were four-star players — running back Camron Davis and offensive lineman John Campbell — and fullback Realus George and receiver Dee Wiggins were three-stars.
Richt said UM is “really excited” about Lingard and Davis, and all three receivers “have their gifts.” He called Pope “dynamic,” and noted Wiggins and Hightower, both 6-foot-3, have “big frames.” Jordan and Mallory, the tight ends, were sold on the idea of playing together and give UM inarguably the best pair of tight end recruits in the country.
“We had a plan and a vision for both those cats,” tight ends coach Todd Hartley said.
UM had major depth concerns at running back, where Mark Walton declared for the draft, and tight end, where Chris Herndon graduates. Four high-end players at those positions makes Richt feel “a lot better,” he said. “By the summer,” when all will be enrolled, “we’ll be in good shape.” UM has 71 scholarship players, not including graduating seniors and anyone who might declare for the NFL Draft.
Quarterback Williams, Richt said, “moves well, throws it well, is a very strong student of the game. We think he’s a mature kid. He will come in and compete well.” Richt said he’s “on-target to be mid-year enrollee.” That will let him compete with returning starter Malik Rosier, redshirted freshman N’Kosi Perry and others.
Scaife, Richt said, “can play any position” along the offensive line. Campbell profiles as a tackle, a spot at which UM loses senior Kc McDermott.
On defense, UM picked up six recruits, headlined by cornerback Al Blades Jr., the son of the late former UM safety and nephew of Brian and Bennie Blades, who was rated as high as No. 7 among cornerbacks and No. 41 overall in 2018 by ESPN.
“It was a no-brainer for him,” said cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph, who played with the elder Blades at UM and called the prospect a “vocal leader,” just like his father.
Other defensive stalwarts were four-star safety Gurvan Hall (Palm Beach Gardens High), considered the top prospect in Palm Beach County, and cornerback/safety Gilbert Frierson. UM also added defensive end Greg Rousseau — nearly 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds — linebacker Patrick Joyner and cornerback DJ Ivey. UM also signed kicker Bubba Baxa, from Texas, who is likely to land the starting job with senior Michael Badgley graduating.
“It is a little bit different than the signing days we’re used to,” Richt said. “It seems like it wasn’t such a bad thing (nationally). For us it was outstanding.”
Richt said “10 or 11” of Wednesday’s new players will enroll in January. Other than Williams, players who have expressed interest in joining the program next month include Lingard, Davis, Wiggins, Hall, Hightower, Rousseau, Scaife, Frierson and Campbell. That would allow them to participate in spring drills.
Whether they enroll in January or in May (for the first of UM’s two summer sessions), players who sign can get workout information from strength coaches, playbook materials — “We usually feed it little by little,” Richt said — and can be on campus to work with strength staffers.
per Rivals, since 2002, in order of overall national ranking:
2 – OT Seantrel Henderson (2010)
5 – QB Kyle Wright (2003)
6 – LB Willie Williams (2004)
8 – DT Marcus Forston (2008)
9 – OT Reggie Youngblood (2005)
10 – RB Lorenzo Lingard (2018)
10 – TE Greg Olsen (2003)
12 – S Kenny Phillips (2005)
13 – S Ray Ray Armstrong (2009)
13 – CB Tracy Howard (2012)
15 – ATH Latwan Anderson (2010)
20 – ATH Devin Hester (2003)
21 – WR Lance Leggett (2004)
22 – DE Chad Thomas (2014)
23 – LB Arthur Brown (2008)
25 – WR Mark Pope (2018)
30 – RB Duke Johnson (2012)
* 1 – RB Graig Cooper (2007)
* 8 – OL Tyler McMeans (2004)
* junior college ranking