Cristobal works recruiting wonders in lead up to season opener

Head coach Mario Cristobal fields questions from local media after the conclusion of his introductory press conference in the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility on Dec. 7, 2021.
Head coach Mario Cristobal fields questions from local media after the conclusion of his introductory press conference in the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility on Dec. 7, 2021. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

In December 2021, the University of Miami announced the hiring of head football coach Mario Cristobal as they stride towards reinstating a winning culture for the Miami Hurricanes.

Cristobal, who has had previous assistant coaching stints with the Hurricanes, was a graduate assistant under Butch Davis between 1998 and 2000 and a tight ends and offensive line coach under Larry Coker in 2006.

“My family and I are excited to return home to the University of Miami, which has been so instrumental in shaping me as a person, player and coach,” Cristobal said in a statement when he was hired. “This program has an unparalleled tradition and an exciting future ahead of it. I can’t wait to compete for championships and help mold our student-athletes into leaders on and off the field who will make our university, our community and our loyal fan base proud.”

It has only been about seven months since Cristobal was hired, but the announcement of his arrival has already had exciting impacts for Hurricanes Football, specifically in the quality recruiting that has happened since the former Florida International and Oregon head coach took over.

In June, Cristobal hosted the inaugural Legends Camp, at which former Miami players returned to Coral Gables to work with recruits to gain insight and help improve their games.

“This is month seven, there is work to be done,” Cristobal said at his Legends Camp in June. “We feel the gap is closing, that once people step foot [at UM], they realize how special the University of Miami is.”

Cristobal aims to usher Hurricane’s Football back into their golden years by returning to the basics: community and brotherhood.

“Look back at the days when Miami was doing what Miami does. Look at the sideline, you had an extra 40 assistant coaches in the form of Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers,” Cristobal said. “Those are some of the things that we are encouraging and working on to make sure that alumni bond, that brotherhood, is there for the world to see and that it’s real.”

Cristobal, a Miami native, opened the window for some of his former players at Oregon to transfer to Miami. These players include center Logan Sagapolu and guard Jonathan Denis who both attended and played at Oregon before transferring to UM. They are both eligible to play in this coming season.

Additionally, Cristobal successfully brought in highly-touted high school recruits including commitments from 2023 recruits such as edge rusher Jayden Wayne and tight end Riley Williams.

Wayne, a five-star prospect at one point by the 247Sports Composite rankings and one of the best recruits in his native state of Washington, has always been on Cristobal’s radar. During his time at Oregon, Cristobal was the first to offer a scholarship to Wayne.

“Me and Mario Cristobal’s relationship, I’ve known him since 8th grade,” Wayne said to 247Sports after his pledge to the Hurricanes. “We have that bond.”

Williams, one of the best prospects from the state of Oregon, also had a strong connection with Cristobal and his coaching staff.

“One of the biggest reasons I picked Miami was because of the relationships I built and already had with the coaching staff and the way they made me feel like I was a part of the family,” Williams said to 247Sports. “I was just so familiar with Coach Cristobal and a few other coaches from them being a part of the Oregon staff previous to Miami.”

Headlined by five-star tackle Francis Mauigoa, Miami’s 2023 class has an additional six four-star prospects. This yields a class ranking of 10th in the nation.

With Cristobal’s arrival, excitement for a Miami Hurricanes Football season has been unlike any other in recent years. When the Canes kick-off their season on Sep. 3 at Hard Rock Stadium, a crowd of orange and green will sit anxiously waiting to see the fruit of Cristobal and his team’s offseason labor.