Recruiting is the foundation of success for college football programs across the nation. The Hurricanes did a strong job recruiting for their defense this off-season, and National Signing Day was the culmination of the coaching staff’s efforts.
The most important addition of the day for the Canes’ defense came when safety Romeo Finley chose the Canes. Heading into National Signing Day, most recruiting experts did not expect Finley to choose the Canes, but instead expected him to choose either Clemson or Georgia Tech. The four-star recruit is the No. 15-ranked safety in the nation according to 247Sports. The addition of Finley is key for the Canes because Miami will be without both starting safeties from last season, Deon Bush and Dallas Crawford. The 6-foot-1 Finley is a hard-hitting defensive back with good size for his position.
“What I love about Romeo is his aggressiveness. One of the biggest things we are looking for in evaluating young men is their ability to seek contact, and he does that on every play,” Safeties Coach Ephraim Banda said to Rivals.
The Hurricanes also added safeties Cedrick Wright and Jeff James. James, the nephew of former Hurricane great Edgerrin James, is the No. 56-ranked safety in the country on Rivals.com. Wright is a versatile safety who also has the ability to play cornerback and rush the passer.
Also in the secondary, the Canes added the No. 47-ranked cornerback in the nation in Malek Young. Young switched his verbal commitment from Georgia to Miami when Mark Richt took over as head coach of the Canes.
The Canes added defensive tackle Tyreic Martin. The three-star recruit will provide depth on the defensive line. He has the ability and talent to develop into a starter.
Along the defensive line, the Canes also added defensive end Joe Jackson. Jackson, the No. 23-ranked defensive end according to ESPN, is a quick weak-side end who has a strong ability to get to the passer.
“We want our defensive line to penetrate. We’re really not doing anything that South Florida should not be used to,” Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz said. “We want to try to create as many negative plays as we possibly can while at the same time not giving up as many big plays as we can. That’s ultimately what the defense is about.”
Prior to National Signing Day, the Canes already had a strong defensive recruiting class. The team had four defensive early enrollees in linebackers Shaquille Quarterman, Zach McCloud, Michael Pinckney and defensive end Patrick Bethel. Quarterman is a traditional big-hitting linebacker who excels in the box.
“Quarterman can be a really good inside guy between the tackles,” ESPN’s Jamie Newberg said.
Not only is Quarterman a good fit for the Canes, he feels he belongs in Miami.
“It feels great [to be a Hurricane]. It feels exactly like I thought it would,” Quarterman said. “This being my dream school since I was young, I always wanted to wear this orange and green.”