COLUMN: Comin’ to U

Despite a 5-7 2007 season, a season that left the Hurricanes without a post-season bowl birth, the University of Miami football program did not miss a beat on the recruiting front, as Head Coach Randy Shannon and his staff roped in what experts say is a top-10 class. Here is a breakdown of the players who have signed to The U and how they project:

Travis Benjamin – Undersized speedster who was a playmaker throughout his high school career. Quick off the line, flexible and can reach top speed in a hurry.

Arthur Brown – Rated as the No. 1 linebacker by many recruiting websites, Brown is a hard-nosed, hard-hitting linebacker with great lateral movement and football intelligence. He is explosive and solid in coverage situations.

Ramon Buchanan – A top linebacker with great speed and quickness. He is an explosive hitter who possesses excellent closing speed, agility and athleticism.

LaRon Byrd – A wide receiver with a good frame, height and bulk. He has great concentration, arm extension and soft hands. He is a good stalk-blocker and can change gears in a hurry.

John Calhoun – A tough, hard-nosed fullback who is tall and physical. He has good size, straight-line speed and absorbs contact very well. Little known, could make a big impact.

Thearon Collier – A speedy wide receiver with the ability to turn a short yardage play into a touchdown. He is explosive, can change gears in a hurry and gets off the line with a quick initial burst. Could be a returner.

Taylor Cook – A prototypical dual-threat quarterback with amazing athleticism for his daunting physical stature. He possesses good arm strength, can put velocity on the ball and throw with accuracy.

Marcus Forston – Considered the No. 1 defensive tackle by multiple recruiting websites, Forston is a formidable task on the middle of the defensive line with his impressive size, speed and strength.

Jordan Futch – A linebacker is a great deal of upside. He is impressively athletic, plays great in space and has very good change-of-direction quickness, along with great reaction ability.

Gavin Hardin – Huge kid that projects at defensive end in college. Another building block in Miami’s new defensive line.

Antonio Harper – He is a defensive end with a ton of upside. He is tall and rangy, covers a lot of ground, possesses the ability to chase down opposing players and is a strong tackler.

Brandon Harris – A versatile and athletic cornerback who is a flat out athlete. He has good size, but he plays bigger and stronger than even his size. He possesses good top-end speed, great field awareness and good versatility. Likely to make immediate impact.

Jacory Harris – Tall and skinny; was Mr. Football for the State of Florida. Harris is a consistent quarterback with great accuracy, good decision-making abilities, poise and strong leadership skills. Enrolled in January in order to compete for the starting position.

Patrick Hill – A fullback who is a strong runner and blocker. He has great vision and in-line quickness, gets to full speed quickly and has great short-area power.

C.J. Holton – A safety that has a natural knack for anticipating the play. Possesses strong open field tackling ability and great football instincts. A top-rated recruit.

Aldarius Johnson – A top wide receiver whose power derives from his size (6-2.5), great strength, great hands and concentration.

Davon Johnson – A smooth and fluid wide receiver with great top-end speed and change-of-direction ability. He gets to top speed quickly and had soft, smooth hands. A possible returnman.

Ben Jones – An offensive tackle who has a great deal of upside. He has a good build and size. Could be a sleeper.

Zach Kane – An inside linebacker who plays extremely fast and physical. He is a great blitzer, has good run-down speed and explodes with a quick jump on the football.

Jeremey Lewis – A defensive tackle who is good size, a solid get-off and the ability to fire out of his stance. He has power, toughness and the ability penetrate. Big and wide.

Brandon Marti – Marti’s strengths are his attitude and aggressive style of play. He plays big and fast, and he has great football intelligence. Big hitter.

C.J. Odom – A safety who is big, fast and physical. He is aggressive, plays the run and pass well and seeks out contact and is a big time hitter.

Micanor Regis – A defensive tackle that has the ability to locate the ball, shed his block and penetrate. The has a good first step and solid lateral movement. Committed early and never waivered.

Marcus Robinson – An outside linebacker/defensive end that is very athletic, displays great speed and has good lateral movement. Freakish athletic skills.

Andrew Smith – A tall, athletic defensive end who has good foot and hand quickness. He has a good motor, solid range and adequate bend and flexibility. Likely to be a solid pass rusher.

Cannon Smith – He is a tough, scrappy quarterback who has the ability to locate receivers. He has good pocket presence, field awareness and accuracy.

Sean Spence – A top linebacker who has a small but solid build, great instincts and reactive-athleticism. His biggest strengths are his change-of-direction quickness and explosion between tackles.

Tommy Streeter – A big, tall wide receiver with a massive wing span and great hands. He explodes off the line, is a good route runner and has good quickness and acceleration.

Vaughn Telemaque – A top safety/wide receiver who has great instincts, solid tackling ability and good coverage awareness.

Kendall Thompkins – He is a quick wide receiver that is shifty and a handful in the open field. He plays bigger than he actually is and has the ability to get behind defenders. Probably the biggest playmaker on a Northwestern team full of playmakers.

Brandon Washington – An offensive guard with a great deal of upside, Washington has good size, is quick off the ball, the ability to deliver a strong initial pop and moves well for his position.

Jake Wieclaw – A solid kicker with good leg strength and accuracy. Likely to be the starter.

Joe Wylie – A tall, well-built safety that plays the pass and run equally well. He does a good job surveying the field and covers ground quite quickly. Played quarterback in high school.

Pravin Patel may be contacted at Dan Stein may be contacted at