After losing 12 seniors and three underclassmen from their 2001 championship team, the Hurricanes proved that speed and talent can be reloaded, as head coach Larry Coker announced one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.
“We had an excellent recruiting season coming off our national championship year and I’m very pleased that we signed a quality group of men who meet the personnel needs we have,” Coker said. “While the athletic ability of these recruits was outstanding, I also was impressed with the way these young men have approached their academics.”
Miami signed 22 players including two Parade All-Americans and 10 SuperPrep All-Americans. The Hurricanes once again signed a rich crop of players from the state of Florida, signing 16 players from the state including 10 from the greater Miami area.
One of the top names in the class is 6-3, 185 pound wide receiver Ryan Moore. Moore, a Parade and SuperPrep All-American from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando was ranked the nation’s no. 2 receiver prospect by SuperPrep.
Moore caught 25 passes for 557 yards and six touchdowns and returned two kicks for a touchdown as a senior.
“Ryan is an extremely special athlete,” Coker said. “He has great size and extraordinary talent.”
Moore is just one member of what Coker called “a receiver strong class.”
Another blue-chip wide receiver recruit is Devin Hester from Suncoast High School in Orlando.
The Parade and SuperPrep All-American, at 5-11, 168 pounds, is regarded as one of the nation’s best all-around prospects.
Hester played extensively at running back, receiver, defensive back and as a return man last season. He rushed for 842 yards and 12 touchdowns while compiling 922 yards receiving for six touchdowns, in addition to throwing for five touchdowns as a senior. Hester came to Miami as a wide receiver.
In addition, with the graduation of Daryl Jones and the early departure of Phillip Buchanon, Hester will feel a much-needed void as a possible return man.
“Devin might be the best athlete in the entire state of Florida,” Coker said.
Another notable receiving recruit is 5-8, 163 pound Sinorice Moss from Carol City High in Miami. Moss is the younger brother of former Hurricanes star Santana Moss.
Coker also announced the signing of two outstanding tight ends that could see playing time next season after the early departure of Jeremy Shockey.
Eric Winston from Lee High School in Midland, Texas, is considered by many the top tight end prospect in the nation. The 6-5, 260 pound ESPN.com First Team All-American caught 20 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns and was named his team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player for the 2001 season.
The team also signed 6-6, 200 pound tight end Curtis Justus from Perry High School in Oklahoma. Justus is already drawing comparisons to fellow Oklahoman and recent Miami star Shockey. Justus had 42 catches for 513 yards and six touchdowns as a senior.
“We signed two of the best tight end prospects in the country,” Coker said. “Both players would have liked Shockey to stay so they could learn from him, but they will be ready to compete and produce.”
The lone quarterback signed was Marc Guillon from Miramonte High School in Orinda, Ca. The 6-4, 190-lb. quarterback is know for his smart decision making and accurate passing as he threw for 2,200 yards and 23 touchdowns with only seven interceptions while leading his team to a 13-0 record in 2001.
Hailing from the same school as Ken Dorsey, Guillon will compete with recent transfer Brock Berlin for the starting position in 2003.
“Guillon is a great athlete with an extremely strong arm,” Coker said. “He is a different player than Dorsey, as he is stronger and more of a physical quarterback.”
On the defensive side the ball, Miami signed five defensive backs that will help ease the loss of the entire starting secondary.
The top name is 6-1, 173-lb. cornerback Brandon Meriweather from Apopka High School. Meriweather earned a reputation as a hard hitter as he led Apopka to the Florida Class 6A 2001 State Championship. Meriweather recorded 55 tackles and three interceptions as a senior.
“We play a lot of five and six defensive back formations, so a couple of our defensive back signings will have the opportunity to play early,” Coker said.
Another big name on defense is 6-2, 205-lb. linebacker Nate Harris from Edison High in Miami. Harris made 105 tackles, had eight interceptions, and caused seven fumbles as a senior.
“Nate is a tremendous young man and a great football talent,” Coker said. “He is a great fit for our style of defense.”
The only sour note of this recruiting class is that Miami only signed two offensive linemen. With the graduation of Bryant McKinnie, Joaquin Gonzalez and Martin Bibla, Coker would have liked to sign a couple more linemen.
Coker, however, was excited about the signing of 6-6, 300-lb. offensive lineman Anthony Wollschlager from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. The SuperPrep All-American is an excellent run blocker and led his team to the Class 4 A state championship as a senior.
“This year’s class was the most efficient recruiting I been around as almost all of our commitments stayed with us,” Coker said. “Our coaching staff did an outstanding job recruiting great talent on and off the field.”