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21 January 2009

Miami’s recruiting class begins to take shape

Dan Stein

Dan Stein

Here’s a look at Miami’s recruiting picture with about three weeks until National Signing Day:

Quarterback: Miami has already gotten a solid commitment from A.J. Highsmith (Flower Mound, Texas) and looks to be done at this position.

Running Back: There are three commitments at this position: Bryce Brown (Wichita, Kan.), Mike James (Davenport, Fla.) and Lamar Miller (Miami). Brown, the nation’s top recruit, is the least stable of the three, but my bet is that he sticks with the Canes. This is the top running back class in the nation, and Miller may be the nation’s most underrated recruit.

Wide Receiver: Coach Randy Shannon is in an enviable position: make a dangerous group more dangerous, or miss out and be no worse off for it. It is arguable that the top two receivers in the nation are Reuben Randle (Bastrop, La.) and Andre Debose (Sanford, Fla.). Both are from the southeast and have interest in Miami.

Tight End: Stephen Plein (Fort Myers, Fla.) is likely to end up at tackle once at UM. This means that the coaches are still looking for a pass-catching weapon. The top candidate on the board looks to be Dion Sims (Orchard Park, Mich.), although Gabe Holmes (Fort Lauderdale) is closer to home and may be a nice Plan B.

Offensive Line: Miami has four commitments currently, but has cast a wide net. Brandon Washington (Milford Prep) has recommitted after a year in prep school and should be an immediate contributor. Corey White (Jacksonville) is a sleeper with a nice frame and athleticism. Jared Wheeler (Plantation, Fla.) is a smart player with upside. Jermaine Johnson (Hargrave Prep) originally signed with Auburn out of high school two years ago, but has since switched to Miami. The Hurricanes’ wish list also includes Malcolm Bunche (Newark, Del.), Pete White (Washington D.C.), Marcus Hall (Cleveland, Ohio), Andrew Tiller (Garden City, N.Y.), Quinton Washington (St. Stephen, S.C.), Bobby Massie (Hargrave Prep) and Daniel Campbell (Hargrave Prep). This will be the most active of all positions down the stretch as the U looks to add 2-4 more before signing day.

Defensive Line: At the end spot, the Canes have Olivier Vernon (Hialeah) and Dyron Dye (Sanford, Fla.) committed. Shayon Green (Tifton, Ga.) may visit as well. At tackle, UM has Luther Robinson (Fort Myers) and Curtis Porter (Charlotte, N.C.). The Hurricanes appear done here.

Linebacker: Five-star athlete Ray Ray Armstrong (Sanford, Fla.) is the lone commitment at the position. Greg King (Memphis), Tana Patrick (Stevenson, Ala.) and Sam Barrington (Jacksonville) are other targets.

Secondary: Things appear to be close to done with Prince Kent (Norcross, Ga.), Brandon McGee (Lauderhill, Fla.), Jamal Reid (Mayo, Fla.) and Kayvon Webster (Monsignor Pace High). Many project Armstrong at safety. Demontre Hurst (Lancaster, Texas) and Ryan Campbell (Columbus, Ga.) are corners that will visit. Local players Artice Kellem (Gulliver Prep) and Phillip Thomas (Miami Edison High) are potential safety targets.

Overall Breakdown: The Hurricanes boast seven ESPN 150 commitments (one safety, one cornerback, one defensive end, two running backs and two listed as athletes). Like last year, Miami looks to be headed toward landing one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, with the focus, this year, being on the offensive and defensive lines, the running back position and the secondary.

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