Johnson is the son of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson, who played at Florida State while Richt was the offensive coordinator. Johnson is married to Richt’s sister, Nikki.
Max, the oldest of their two sons (Jake is 12), is a lefty listed by Rivals at 6-foot and 155 pounds. He plays at Prince Avenue Christian School in Bogart, Ga.
Aside from his pedigree, he can make throws most 14-year-olds can’t:
To earn his first college offer, he had to jump through a few hoops. Because of the NCAA’s mandated dead period, he wasn’t allowed to receive a phone call from his uncle when the coach wanted to offer on Feb. 9. He had to call Richt himself.
He told Canesport that after catching up for few minutes, Richt told him he had a scholarship waiting and that, “We wouldn’t offer if we didn’t think you were good enough.”
“I was super excited and happy,” Max Johnson said.
His father, now 47 and coaching his son, said Richt’s assessment of the youngster was that he’s “a legitimate baller.”
Richt also recently offered another 2020 quarterback, 6-3, 175-pound HarrisonBailey of Powder Springs, Ga. Those are the only known offers he has extended in that class, which enters high school this fall.
If they develop into elite recruits with their choice of top programs, they’ll remember that Richt was the first coach who believed in their talents. Since verbal offers are non-binding, it’s a low-risk move that could wind up paying off. Even if Johnson doesn’t wind up at the top of his class, it’s a fairly safe bet Uncle Mark would be willing to find a spot for him.
Miami’s 2016 signing class consists mostly of players who shined at in-state high schools.
Headlining the all-state lists, which were released over the last two weeks, were first-teamers Ahmmon Richards of Wellington High, Jeff James and Shaquille Quarterman. Ten of the 16 Florida-based players the Hurricanes signed were all-state selections.
The teams are chosen based on individual performance, with some weight given to team performance and outside recognition from other newspapers and websites in the state.
However, they are not always a direct reflection of which players are going to shine in college. For example, the highly touted players at powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas – like Ohio State defensive lineman signee Nick Bosa and UM wide receiver signee Sam Bruce, considered by recruiting analysts to be among the best players at their position nationwide – didn’t make any of the Class 7A all-state teams (not even honorable mention).
On the other hand, Aquinas has won six state titles in the last nine years, so players at that school get plenty of spotlight time from statewide media covering high schools — in addition to plenty of love from college recruiters.
The only Florida-based 2016 Hurricanes signees who didn’t make all-state were Bruce, quarterback Jack Allison, receiver Dionte Mullins, safety Cedrick Wright, offensive lineman Tre Johnson and tight end Michael Irvin II. Mullins, who sat out his senior season because of academic issues, and Allison are consensus four-star, All-American recruits; the latter three are rated as three-star recruits. Miami’s two out-of-state players, New Jersey-based tight end Jovani Haskins and Alabama-based defensive tackle Tyreic Martin, are three-star recruits who did not make all-state.
The freshmen-to-be who made Florida all-state teams before coming to UM:
Like many (all?) safeties of this era who want to play at Miami, BillyGibson wants to follow in the footsteps of Sean Taylor.
He also wants his friends to follow him to Miami.
Gibson, a senior-to-be and consensus three-star recruit at Miami Southridge, committed to Miami last week. As a junior, he recorded 64 tackles, two sacks and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown. He played his first two seasons at Hialeah-Champagnat, according to 247Sports.
“I just like how [Miami will] play their defense, how they can have a safety in the back and can also bring him down in the box at the same time — I can do a lot of blitzing,” he told Canesport.
Gibson is the second safety in UM’s 2017 class, which is rated No. 3 nationally and No. 1 in the ACC by 247Sports. Three-star prospect Ahman Ross (5-11, 185) of Jacksonville-Bolles pledged last September.
Gibson had offers from Nebraska, Syracuse and Florida Atlantic. He is teammates with two Hurricanes commits, wide receiver Kemore Gamble and running back Bentavious Thompson. Two more teammates, cornerback Shawn Davis and linebacker Nadarius Fagan, are UM targets. Gibson told 247Sports he will “do everything I can to make sure they join me at Miami.”
After committing, Gibson posted a picture on Twitter of himself wearing a Hurricanes jersey next to a photo of a high school-age Taylor.
We have yet to see the second coming of the Taylor, the late former UM and Washington Redskins star who hit like a truck and made highlight-reel plays. We know this much about Gibson: he said he’s on board for 2017, and he aims high.
The Hurricanes’ search for ready-to-play cornerbacks might take them to a school 2,700 miles away, for a player who grew up two hours down the road.
The prospect involved is J.C. Jackson, who played at Immokalee High and spent last year at Riverside (Calif.) City College.
Miami is interested in Jackson, a program source told the Post. However, there are conflicting reports about the eligibility of the 5-foot-11, 196-pound redshirt freshman. The website 247Sports reported last month he is “working to become eligible” for August, and may not be available until December. More recently, the Miami Herald reported Jackson will be eligible this fall.
As of now — ostensibly because of those concerns — Jackson doesn’t have a scholarship offer, the source said.
If things work out – if they offer him, if he chooses them, and he’s ready to go – he would be a significant boost.
The Hurricanes’ roster enters the spring with five scholarship cornerbacks, two with meaningful experience (senior-to-be Corn Elder and sophomore Sheldrick Redwine, who are expected to start). The others (sophomores Michael Jackson and Terrance Henley and redshirt sophomore Ryan Mayes) were mainly special-teamers last year.
Jackson, an Under Armour All-American and four-star recruit at Immokalee, was pursued by former Miami coach Al Golden in 2014 but instead signed with Florida. He redshirted as a freshman because of a shoulder injury but was expected to start in 2015. The 247Sports affiliate covering UF, citing sources close to the program, called him “one of the best pure athletes to come through Florida in years.”
His time as a Gator ended last spring, after he was arrested on three felony counts of armed robbery and a felony burglary charge stemming from an April 18 incident in Gainesville. He was subsequently dismissed from the team.
Jackson was cleared of those charges last November.
It wasn’t the first time Jackson’s non-football activity made headlines. In Dec. 2014, he reportedly sustained “minor injuries” after he and another college football player were grazed by bullets in a shooting in Immokalee.
In addition to Miami, Jackson also has drawn interest from South Florida, which he visited last month. Canesport reported Arkansas and South Carolina are also in the mix.
“I wouldn’t mind going to Miami,” Jackson said. “It’s back home.”
Miami has two former Gators on scholarship: senior punter Justin Vogel and defensive lineman Gerald Willis, who sat out last year after transferring and will be a redshirt sophomore.
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.
With a spring roster that includes five returning cornerbacks on scholarship (and just two with with any meaningful experience), the Hurricanes plan to add at least several corners in the 2017 recruiting cycle.
That’s why they were pleased when Christopher Henderson, of Miami-Columbus High, committed last week.
“I chose Miami because it’s right at home and I feel like I’ll fit right in,” Henderson told Scout.com. “Nothing is better than dominating in your own city. I wanted to make a decision today because I know their situation at defensive back, and the coaches feel I can make an impact my freshman year.”
Henderson (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) is rated a four-star recruit by Scout, which ranks him the No. 150 player overall for 2017.
“Chris is a great player,” Columbus teammate Trajan Bandy said in an interview with 247Sports. “He is long and he is blazing fast. He has crazy make-up speed. He can play man-to-man. He is everything you are looking for in a cornerback.” (Bandy, by the way, said UM isn’t showing him much interest.)
Henderson, who also played running back and wide receiver at Columbus, is rated the No. 16 all-purpose athlete in the country by Scout and No. 41 by 247Sports. Rivals and ESPN, both of which consider him a three-star recruit, have not ranked him at his position.
He chose Miami over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Cincinnati, among others. He earned his UM offer when he attended an Al Golden camp last June. He was named MVP of defensive backs at the camp.
The Hurricanes’ 2017 class, which includes 10 commits, is rated No. 1 in the ACC and No. 3 nationally by 247Sports’ composite ratings. It also includes three-star cornerback NickRoberts, of Orange Park-Oakleaf.
“I just wanted to see what more offers would come in,” Perry told Scout, explaining his decision to drop his commitment.
Miami is still very much interested in Perry. Running backs coach and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, Perry told 247Sports, “tells me I am their guy.” Perry said in an interview with Scout that Miami and Tennessee are his two favorite schools.
But he isn’t the only quarterback UM is after.
According to 247Sports, Miami has extended offers to four-star recruits Bailey Hockman, Davis Mills and Chase Brice, all from Georgia; four-star Alabama native Jake Bentley; four-star Baylor commit Kellen Mond (IMG by way of San Antonio), and three-star prospect James Blackman, who plays up the road at Glades Central.
Mark Richt, who has traditionally favored drop-back passers, signed four-star JackAllison in January. Returning starter BradKaaya has two years of eligibility remaining.
Perry (6-3, 170), who plays at Ocala-Vanguard High, is rated as the eighth-best dual-threat quarterback in his class by 247Sports, which rates him as a three-star recruit. ESPN has him 11th and a four-star.
Scout ranks him as a four-star recruit, 244th overall in his class and 21st among all quarterbacks. Rivals considers him a three-star and has not rated him.
Asked by Scout what he likes about Miami, Perry said: “I love coach Richt as a coach. He knows how to talk to you. He’s going to keep it real. The rest of the staff has been keeping it real as well. I love the city. It’s a beautiful city.”
Tennessee, he said, offers a “spread offense, and another beautiful city.” Auburn is an option because it runs a spread offense, “like my high school,” and “puts a lot of guys in the league,” Perry said.
According to 247Sports, he threw for 2,510 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions on 58.2 percent passing as a junior.
Junior college prospect DayallHarris, who committed late last week, could be just what he is looking for.
Harris, who plans to arrive on campus in May and compete for playing time immediately.
“Right now [Richt] is just trying to rebuild,” Harris told WJTV in his hometown of Jackson, Miss. “He came into kind of a messed-up situation. He had only five scholarship receivers. … Usually a school has 10 or more.”
Indeed, Miami returns senior-to-be Stacy Coley (689 yards, four touchdowns on 47 catches) but loses approximately 40 percent of its receiving yards from 2015. Graduating seniors Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters accounted for 1,319 yards and six touchdowns. Oft-suspended sophomore Tyre Brady (112 yards, one touchdown) elected to transfer.
Aside from Coley, promising talent Lawrence Cager is expected to make noise this fall alongside veterans Braxton Berrios and Malcolm Lewis. UM also signed three talented recruits (Sam Bruce, Ahmmon Richards, Dionte Mullins) and boasts several pass-catching backs and tight ends. However, depth is still lacking.
Thus, the prospect of playing time was a major draw for Harris (6-foot-3, 192 pounds), who played last season at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in his hometown.
A former four-star recruit, he signed with Mississippi in 2014 and competed for playing time in fall practices but wound up redshirting. He was suspended later in the season after what local media referred to as “several minor incidents.” He did not travel for Ole Miss’ appearance in the Peach Bowl that season.
He will be a redshirt sophomore this fall and have three years of eligibility at UM. He wore No. 83 at Ole Miss, a number not worn by any current Hurricanes player.
Harris, whose first name is pronounced DAY-all, played at Jackson (Miss.) Callaway High. He had 42 catches for 564 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior and registered 1,034 total all-purpose yards. He also played basketball – winning state titles in 2012 and 2013 – and ran track.
He apparently likes the tradition at Miami, as evidenced by his choice of attire for an on-camera interview: a throwback-style Hurricanes jersey with Michael Irvin’s No. 47 on it. That wasn’t all he was excited about.
“I love the coaches. I love the campus,” he said. “It’s kind of like a tropical rainforest or something.”
Happy New Year! We’re back from vacation and refreshed. As a way of refocusing, let’s assess the most pressing issues the Hurricanes will sort out in the next few weeks …
What will the rest of Mark Richt’s staff look like?
(updated Monday evening with new hires)
The newly minted Hurricanes coach has announced his hire of a defensive coordinator (Manny Diaz), a running backs coach/co-offensive coordinator (ThomasBrown), a defensive line coach (Craig Kuligowski) and a special teams coordinator (ToddHartley). He also brought on an offensive assistant (his son, JonRicht), to fill an unspecified role.
The positions that appear to be open: quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and linebackers. Richt has some flexibility with these spots.
Richt, who has stated his intention to call plays and work with quarterbacks, could name himself quarterbacks coach or use a graduate assistant for the role. He could retain wide receivers coach Kevin Beard, whose future is unclear. He could give additional responsibility to Diaz (who has coached linebackers before) or keep Al Golden‘s linebackers coach, Hurlie Brown.
Richt’s hires to this point signify a near-total housecleaning of Golden’s staff. Those who won’t be back include offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Coley (now Georgia’s receivers coach, according to FOX Sports), defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, offensive line coach Art Kehoe, defensive line coach Randy Melvin, outside linebackers coach Kareem Brown and defensive backs coach Paul Williams (hired at Illinois). Additionally, multiple outlets reported longtime strength coach Andreu Swasey will not be back. It’s possible running backs coach Tim “Ice” Harris, whose position has been filled, could serve as a staff member.
The NCAA allows a program up to nine assistant coaches and two graduate assistants to recruit and participate in game-day coaching. There is no limit on non-coaching staff members.
Is anyone else leaving early?
Junior cornerback ArtieBurnsdeclared for the NFL draft after Miami’s bowl game. Two others, junior cornerback CornElder and redshirt junior safety RayshawnJenkins, also announced their plans to return. That leaves two players in question.
If they are leaving, junior wide receiver Stacy Coley and redshirt sophomore linebacker Al-Quadin Muhammad must state their intentions by the Jan. 18 underclassmen deadline. While it’s possible the deadline may pass without either doing anything – meaning they would be returning for another year – it’s more likely they will let it be known via an Instagram post, as Elder and Jenkins did.
How will the recruiting class come together?
Lot to watch here with Miami’s 2016 class, which is currently rated 18th nationally (third in the ACC) by 247Sports and 22nd (fourth) by Rivals.
Richt is after some of the top recruits in the nation, a select few former Georgia commits and several other players targeted by the previous staff. We’ll have more on this in the coming days. Business really picks up Jan. 14, when the NCAA’s dead period ends and coaches can once again visit recruits, and vice versa.
What we know now:
Three-star running back Jawon Hamilton decommitted Monday, after he was not contacted by UM’s new staff. The Hurricanes have four-star Travis Homer (Oxbridge Academy) in their class and are chasing four-star Devwah Whaley, a former Georgia commit, and according to Rivals, trying to lure former UM commit Zack Moss back into the fold. Florida State pledge Amir Rasul, a four-star prospect formerly committed to UM, told Rivals he is interested in Miami again.
Quarterback JackAllison, linebackers ShaquilleQuarterman, ZachMcCloud and MichaelPinckney and defensive end PatrickBethel plan to enroll at UM before Jan. 11, when classes begin at UM.
Quarterman and cornerback TylerByrd are playing in the Army All-American Bowl, which is Saturday at 1 p.m. (NBC). They will play on the East team with receiver AhmmonRichards (Wellington High) and defensive back JamelCook, both of whom are interested in Miami. Cook is currently committed to Florida State. Richards is uncommitted.
Allison, Bethel and UM-committed receivers Sam Bruce and Dionte Mullins played in the Under Armour All-America Game last Saturday. StateoftheU has a tweet-based recap here. The standout was Mullins, who made a ridiculous catch:
It was the first game of the season for Mullins, who was academically ineligible at Miami-Gulliver Prep as a senior.
Are the basketball teams really this good?
After the men beat Syracuse on Saturday, they improved to 12-1 (1-0 ACC). They are ranked No. 12 in the AP poll and No. 11 in the coaches poll. They are a four-seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology, a veteran group that has the makings of an ACC championship contender. Games this month at No. 5 Virginia and home against No. 15 Duke will help prove or disprove that theory. UM’s next tilt is Saturday against Florida State (5 p.m., ESPN2).
UM ranks 16th in offensive efficiency and 21st in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. Leading scorer Sheldon McClellan (15.9 points) has shot better than 50 percent in eight of his 13 games and leads ACC guards in shooting percentage (54.2). He is sixth among Division I guards in that category. Sophomore guard Ja’Quan Newton has been a spark off the bench, scoring 12 points per game in 21.8 minutes. Center Tonye Jekiri (8.8 points, 9.5 rebounds) has been his usual reliable self. Point guard Angel Rodriguez (11.8 points, 3.9 assists) has nights where he can’t buy a bucket, but is a major factor on defense (1.77 steals, third in ACC).
The women, ranked No. 22 last week, are 13-2 (1-1 ACC). Their losses are to No. 4 Baylor (by seven points) and to Virginia, which is 11-4. They can make noise against Jan. 24 against No. 15 FSU and a Jan. 28 game at Virginia Tech, which is currently 13-1.