~ The following article was contributed by beloved Eye of the Hurricane blogger and recruiting guru, bg1906 ~
When Al Golden announced he was coming to the University of Miami he was praised as being a charismatic hard worker that was a good football coach, a great developer of talent, and a tireless recruiter. In fact, recruiting pioneer Tom Lemmings called Golden a young Urban Meyer or Nick Saban and that Golden would be a FORCE recruiting with such a powerful brand as the University of Miami. Well fast forward a little over a year and I’d have to say I agree 100% with Lemmings’ assessment.
If you are a fan of the Miami Hurricanes it is very hard not to be excited about the current direction of the program. To this end, the Canes took a GIANT step forward yesterday as they officially signed 33 new student athletes to join The U Football Family. Coach Al Golden and staff did a wonderful job of assembling a consensus Top 10 class that is praised for having a wonderful balance of star power and depth, while also injecting a much needed shot of talent into the program. Not to mention this feat was accomplished after having a .500 season (6-6), and maybe to a larger extent, with potential NCAA sanctions hanging overhead. What an amazing job and every bit worthy of the national praise this staff has received for what they’ve done in assembling the Class of 2012.
So how did the Canes pull of a Top 10 recruiting class???
To me there were five key elements that REALLY stood out when it came to the Canes recruiting efforts in assembling the 2012 class:
- Our staff started out very aggressively during the initial stages of the 2012 campaign. They hosted junior days, camps, and opened their practices up to recruits who quickly bought in and committed early to the Canes. This is a strategy you usually see from schools like Texas, where a vast majority of their class are in-state guys and commit very, very early in the process.
- The staff did and trusted their own evaluations of the players they offered. This was refreshing because the staff knew exactly what kinds of players they wanted to target and were then able to go out and recruit/evaluate to that standard. In doing so they were able to land a symmetrical class with an excellent balance between star power and depth.
- The staff got back to the roots of what makes the University of Miami special. Of the 33 players signed, 27 are from the state of Florida. With a nice balance of talent from across the state including a heavy dose of talented players from Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, as well as several very talented players from the talent rich Tampa/St. Petersburg Area. The Canes also ventured into some new territories by locking up players from areas we don’t normally have success in including Lake City, Leesburg, Boca Raton, Vero Beach, and Venice. Then like successful regimes of the past, they sprinkled in some top talent from several other talent rich regions of the country that we have traditionally and successfully recruited in the past including Texas, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana. They were even able to land a JUCO recruit who originally hails from the state of Alabama (Ladarius Gunter), so the staff proved it could and would go wherever necessary to recruit top talent. Impressive!
- The staff was relentless in its recruiting efforts. They approached the recruiting process with an attitude of WE are the University of Miami, we have a lot to offer, and we will NOT be intimidated by ANYONE! Coach Golden reiterated that on yesterday during his press conference and he believes we should own our neck of the woods and defeat the Alabamas, the LSUs, the Floridas, and the Florida States of the world when they venture into the State of Miami. While on the recruiting trail, the staff also had to battle a heavy dose of negative recruiting, and yet their persistence paid off and they were still able to land top notch players like Deon Bush, Tyriq McCord, and Daniel Isidora, while also flipping kids like Rayshawn Jenkins (USF), Antonio Crawford (Georgia Tech), Robert Lockhart (Virginia Tech), and Jawand Blue (Virginia Tech). They also in a 2-3 week period were able to convince probably their most high profile and least likely acquisition, Tracy Howard, to stay home and play for The U.
- The staff was strategic sound in their recruit planning. They targeted kids that truly LOVED and WANTED to be Miami Hurricanes. Evidenced by kids like Duke Johnson, a player who was actually a Randy Shannon commit, that never ever waivered from the commitment he made as a junior. Or a guy like Jawand Blue, who committed immediately after receiving his offer on signing day after having been a Virginia Tech commit for nearly 8 months. It was important that this happen because these are the kids that TRULY LOVE the Miami Hurricanes and want to be Canes no matter the circumstances. This is how teams like USC and Ohio State survive through tough sanctions. They recruit to the BRAND and they recruit kids that LOVE THE BRAND! We are no different. In fact, we have perhaps the most powerful brand in all of college football and the staff targeted kids that REALLY LOVED THAT BRAND, THE U. These are the types of kids we have to have in this program and it was fantastic to see the staff actively pursing these types of players.
What is even more impressive is that a vast majority of these kids were committed very early on in the process and the staff was able to maintain those relationships and commitments with only 1 casualty and that being the loss of OLB Reggie Northrup to Florida State. However, even Northrup’s decommitment was expected by the staff and they had a contingency plan in place, which was enacted when they offered and flipped West Boca Raton’s Jawand Blue on the spot! Again, impressive!
So now that we know WHY we were successful, let’s take a quick look at the players that made it successful, my Top 10 players for the Class of 2012.
Miami Hurricanes Class of 2012: Top 10
1. CB Tracy Howard: A case could be made for both Duke Johnson and Tracy Howard being #1, but I went with Howard because he plays a position of extreme need. He’s a good athlete, with good coverage skills, and should contribute from Day 1.
Tracy Howard Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97uIELfhKu8
2. RB Randy “Duke” Johnson: Duke Johnson on the other hand is lightning in a bottle and can take it to the house at any moment. He’ll be a weapon from the day he sets foot on campus on both offense and special teams .
Duke Johnson Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbxbK5MzmVw
3. WR Angelo Jean-Louis: Jean-Louis is one of the Top WR prospects in the country. He turned a lot heads during Under Armor All-American Game practices and should be able to provide immediate help to the Cane WR corps.
Angelo Jean-Louis Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs9nF7mZsXg
4. LB Raphael Kirby: Raphael Kirby is LB from Georgia that just makes plays. He possesses great instincts and is always around the ball. I suspect Kirby will find a way onto the 2 deep and contribute on special teams as well.
Raphael Kirby Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbFDU8v1EpU
5. CB/S Deon Bush: Deon Bush may be the best overall athlete in the entire class. He’s strong and can jump out the gym. Deon was recruited as a CB but can also double as a Safety, which is the position he played at Columbus HS. Bush has all the skills you want in a DB, but he hasn’t played much CB in his career up to this point. I do still expect him to play in 2012 be on both defense and special teams.
Deon Bush Video: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/522679/deon-bush
6. DE Jelani Hamilton: Jelani Hamilton is a big time prospect who saw his senior season cut short due to injury. He comes from a tradition-rich, powerhouse program in St. Thomas Aquinas and was easily one of the program’s top players over the last 2 years. He has a good size/speed profile and also plays with good effort and intensity. He is also very technically sound as you would suspect from any prospect coming from such a highly regarded program as STA. As with the case of most incoming freshman on the offensive and defensive lineman, Hamilton will need time to add additional bulk and strength to his long frame. However, due to the lack of depth at the defensive end position, he could find himself in the rotation early.
Jelani Hamilton Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYZ5ZGXcYV8
7. DE/OLB Tyriq McCord: Tyriq McCord is a dynamic pass rusher. He projects as a hybrid DE/OLB and should help the Canes generate more pass rush. He has great speed of the edge and is a powerful and relentless pass rusher in his pursuit of opposing QBs. I can see McCord being used this year as a pass rushing specialist, much in the vein of a Javon Nanton. He’ll also be able to contribute on special teams.
Tyriq McCord Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38WvtrbBzxE
8. OT Ereck Flowers: Ereck Flowers could potentially be the best player in the entire class when it is all said and done. He’s big, he’s mean, and he can move. Big Red could very well find himself in the 2 Deep and he’ll only get better with time. His ceiling is limitless.
Ereck Flowers Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3jWa3quwNk
9. WR Robert Lockhart: Robert Lockhart was a nice find. He originally committed to Virginia Tech out of HS but after not qualifying, he prepped at Fork Union Miliary Academy. At Fork Union he became teammates with another Cane signee, Taylor Gadbois, and it was Gadbois, along with current Cane and former West Boca teammate Corey King, that helped convince Lockhart to flip from Virginia Tech to Miami. Lockhart is a playmaker. He has a nice size/speed profile and displays good hands and excellent playmaking ability. He should be another player who will get into the mix from Day 1.
Robert Lockhart Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UATMofusXnM
10. WR Malcolm Lewis/ATH Herb Waters: I couldn’t make up mind on #10 so I have a 10a and a 10b.
10a is Malcolm Lewis. Lewis is a teammate of Tracy Howard and a key cog in the Miramar Patriot passing attack. Lewis is a playmaker that has good size and speed and is deceptively strong. He has excellent hands and though he’s not an elite long speed guy, he possesses excellent short area quickness and change of direction.
Malcolm Lewis Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWto8C0frwM
10b is Herbert Waters. Waters may be one of the most underrated players in the class. He’s also a playmaker that has played a variety of positions in HS including QB, WR, and DB. Many feel his future is in the defensive backfield, though he was recruited as a WR. However, no matter what position, Waters makes plays. He injured himself last season, but if he’s healthy when he arrives he could find himself competing early for playing time.
Herb Waters Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7vTxtT6pEo
Well there you have it Canes fans, the Class of 2012. They, along with the 2011 Class, are the foundation of our future, a future that appears to be bright indeed!
Until next time…