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Miami Area Awash In Skill Recruits

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 3:08pm
By: Miami Insider

CORAL GABLES – The bad news for Al Golden’s recruiting is that if the Hurricanes are looking to add defensive tackles, South Florida likely won’t be where they’ll find them.

However, the good news is that the skill level in the Dade-Broward-Palm Beach County area will be as strong as it’s ever been in 2015.

And Miami needs to take advantage.

“2015 is a big year for them,” said David Lake, who covers recruiting for InsideTheU. “There’s no more sanctions or excuses. This is their fourth year. They should have the high school relationships by now.”

Among the top prizes is American Heritage Plantation quarterback Torrance Gibson, considered to be the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country. Right now, Lake sees Ohio State battling Miami for Gibson. He thinks the Buckeyes have the edge and not just because Urban Meyer is the recruiter.

“They’ve gone all in and they’ve had success with that style of quarterback,” Lake said. “He’s impressed by that.

“He’s a big time talent.”

While Miami mainly has started pocket passers, offensive coordinator James Coley has started recruiting more of the dual-threat guys, Lake said.

“But recruits want to see it,” he said.

Two of the area’s top receivers – Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker – are guys Miami should get, Lake said. Others include Jovon Durante, committed to West Virginia right now, and Devante Peete of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.

Another intriguing player is tailback Jordan Scarlett of University School. He already has committed to Florida Atlantic after his high school coach, Roger Harriott, resigned to become the Owls’ running backs coach.

Right now, Florida and Florida State are highly interested in him, as well as Miami.

“He’s one of the top two or three running backs in the state,” Lake said. “It’s crazy that he’s committed to FAU.”

Williams Leads Canes Into Spring

When athletes transfer, it’s often because they didn’t get enough playing time. For Ryan Williams, it’s been the exact opposite.

At the University of Memphis, Williams started 10 games and completed 165-of-290 passes for 2,075 yards. Since a transfer season, then two years at Miami, Williams has thrown a total of 52 passes.

That doesn’t sound like a fair trade, a potential of starting four straight years at one school to the possibility of starting one at another. But ask Williams, and he’d take that deal in a snap.

“It definitely was worth it,” he said. “When you go out as a senior, this is what everyone looks forward to.”

Williams goes into spring ball as the Hurricanes’ starter, but he’s being challenged for that spot mainly by Kevin Olsen. While Olsen is considered more athletic, Williams is considered more cerebral.

“He’s really comfortable now,” OC Coley said of Williams. “Not a lot fazes him. He made three, four good audibles to different situations (in a spring practice). It’s like he put the playbook on his back.

“Kevin did a great job of doing both (pocket presence, running from the pocket). He had a really good feel.”

Coley said he sees this QB duel going into the fall. What he wants to see is the transformation where one of the QBs will essentially say, “I’m the man.”

Over the past couple of years, the Hurricanes had that alpha male in Stephen Morris. As strong as his arm was, his leadership may have been stronger.

“I wouldn’t say people were scared of him but they respected his authority,” Coley said. “This year, we’re finding our leaders. You hear more people talking and it’s not about developing one but five or six.”

A lot can change over the next six months to see who Miami’s QB will be. When Coley coached at Florida State, Drew Weatherford went into the 2008 spring camp as the starting quarterback. By the second week into fall camp, Christian Ponder had taken over as the starter, a job he kept for three years.

“It was everything,” Coley said. “It’s who can manage the offense and who can complete the ball at the end of the day.”

Williams marveled at Morris’ ability to not only throw the deep ball but to also put his throws in small windows.

He admits that’s not him. He realizes he’s also not the fastest quarterback, which in today’s college football is what most coaches want, a guy who can run or throw or scramble to keep plays alive.

But Miami has had a litany of pocket passes over the past 25 years. Guys such as Bernie Kosar, Steve Walsh, Gino Torretta, Kenny Dorsey didn’t have guns or great feet. But they won.

“Miami has this legacy of great quarterbacks who played,” Williams said. “Fans have expectations. I don’t think about it every day.

“I have a lot of maturity and am an overall student of the game. I think I’m able to get to the right play and get the ball to guys who can make plays. They can run for more yards than I can.”

Coley likes Williams’ quick release, which has caught a few receivers by surprise when they make their cuts.

“It’s hit a couple of guys in the facemask,” he said. “I think he’s overcompensating for not having the strongest arm.”

Fans expect Miami to take the next step after winning nine games last season. Coincidentally, the team that beat the Hurricanes’ in their first bowl game in three years – Louisville – will be who Miami opens with in 2014.

“There’s no more (pressure to succeed) than from us,” Williams said. “We had a good start but then lost those three games in a row, and then we had the letdown in the bowl game.

“I feel I would’ve been prepared to play if Stephen couldn’t play. I came in here expecting to play, and I wanted to plan and I knew I was capable – but I just had to wait for my time.

“Now, I gotta earn it. I don’t want it given to me. I want to earn everything.”