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Miami Building Another Elite Class?

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
January 17, 2005 The biggest concern among Miami football fans is that the program has lost its luster over the last four years. Since coach Butch Davis left Coral Gables for the NFL's Cleveland Browns in January 2001, the Hurricanes have lost some momentum on the field. After going 12-0 and winning the national championship under rookie head coach Larry Coker in 2001, the team has posted records of (in order) 12-1, 11-2 and 9-3. On the recruiting trail, however, Miami hasn't slipped at all, at least not according to the rankings. SuperPrep, a national football recruiting magazine, rated the team's last three classes under Coker among the top 10 in the nation. With less than three weeks remaining until signing day (Feb. 2) this year, every major recruiting service included the Hurricanes' 2005 commitment list in the top 10. "If you made a list of the top five programs, where just the name carries the most weight in the eyes of these (high school) players, Miami is still on that list," Scout.com recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg said. "They play for and win national championships. They send more players to the NFL than anybody. They're on TV all the time. One (9-3) season isn't going to change that image." Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Hurricanes' high ranking this year is that they entered the 2004-05 recruiting cycle thinking they may have only 15 scholarships to offer, and their recent top-10 rankings came despite the fact that they held only 10-12 commitments from prep seniors. Most other major programs had 20-25 pledges by mid-January, and the rankings typically favor larger classes. Miami is bumping into the NCAA's 85-scholarship limit in part because the program doesn't have a high attrition rate. Do the math: If you sign 23-25 prospects every year, and you don't lose a lot of players to transfers or academics or legal/discipline problems, at some point you're going to have to sign a smaller group. The Hurricanes' original, conservative projection of 15 signees in 2005 increased in January, as the team's coaches knew was likely to happen. Tailback Frank Gore and wideout Roscoe Parrish decided to leave early for the NFL. Two 2004 signees who had hoped to join UM in January, lineman Kellen Heard and wideout Cedric Hill, were denied admission and enrolled instead at Texas A&M and South Florida, respectively. Meanwhile, a committed Class of 2005 All-American, California quarterback Derek Shaw, decided he didn't want to play so far from home. He switched to Arizona State in mid-January. Coker said his staff planned all along for the possibility of a 2005 class with 20 members or more. The actual number will depend on the status of three other 2004 signees (Antonio Dixon, Joe Joseph, Josh Kerr) and the newcomers, although Coker said the team will sign fewer academic risks this February than they have in recent years. The Hurricanes kept in close contact with dozens of targets in November and December, knowing that additional grants could open up closer to signing day. "If we had 50 (scholarships), I don't think we'd have any problem filling them," Coker said. "Because of our low numbers this year, we've had to turn away some (prospects) we really liked a lot. They're going to be playing for someone else. But, overall, we like how things have gone. We've been very well-received." Below is a review of Miami's most recent commitments for the Class of 2005: Naples (FL) High LB Spencer Adkins, rated one of the top 25 linebackers in the nation, committed to childhood favorite Miami over Florida State and Georgia (visit). He also had offers from Auburn, Clemson (former teammate of RB Duane Coleman), Florida, LSU, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin. His friend and former teammate, Francesco Zampogna, is a walk-on kicker for the Hurricanes. At the Nike combine in Miami last spring, Adkins was rated the No. 1 athlete after running a 4.59-second 40-yard dash, a 4.31-second shuttle run, benching 185 pounds 35 times, and leaping 35 inches in the vertical jump. A first-team Class 5A all-state selection, he had 60 tackles and 12 sacks as a junior, while playing mostly defensive end for a 13-2 team. He had 11 sacks and 19 tackles for loss as a senior. He benches 340 pounds, squats 530 and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.3 GPA and an 850 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is offensive line coach Art Kehoe. "(Miami) felt like a big family. It feels like home," Adkins said. "I wanted to stay close to home all along, and this is perfect. I can get a great education, and nobody is better at preparing you to play in the NFL." Houston (TX) North Shore TE Dajleon Farr, rated one of the top 10 tight ends in the nation, picked Miami over LSU (visit), Nebraska (visit), Oklahoma (visit) and Texas. He also had offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA and Wisconsin. He rescinded a commitment to LSU after coach Nick Saban left for the NFL's Miami Dolphins. As a junior, Farr caught seven passes for 166 yards while serving mainly as a blocker for a 15-0 Class 5A state championship team. As a senior, he had four receptions for 160 yards. Also a standout in track, he throws the shot 54-10 and the discus 168-6. He benches 365 pounds, squats 460 and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.3 GPA and a 20 ACT score. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is tight ends coach Mario Cristobal. Miami (FL) Coral Reef LB Eric Houston, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Florida, chose Miami over N.C. State (visit) and West Virginia (visit), plus late interest from Florida and Florida State. He also had offers from Boston College, Central Florida, Clemson, Kansas, Kansas State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida and Syracuse. As a senior, Houston had a county-best 131 tackles and six sacks for a 1-8 team. He had 90 tackles as a junior. He benches 290 pounds, squats 430 and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.0 GPA and a 1,070 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is defensive coordinator Randy Shannon. Columbus (GA) Shaw FB Jerrell Mabry, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Georgia, opted for long-time favorite Miami over Alabama, Georgia Tech and South Carolina. He also had early offers from Maryland, Middle Tennessee State, UNC, Oklahoma State and others. He rushed for 969 yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore, 1,203 yards and 23 TDs as a junior (for a 12-1 team), and 1,200-plus yards and 15 scores as a senior. He benches 295 pounds, squats 425 and runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds. He has a 3.3 GPA and an 890 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is defensive backs coach Tim Walton. "I'm a fullback, but I can run with the ball," Mabry said. "I like Miami because they've had some big backs carrying the ball and doing other things. Coach Coker said he doesn't like one-dimensional fullbacks who just block. He likes me because I can run, catch and block. I'm not a guy they'll have to take out just because it's going to be a pass play." Coral Gables (FL) High LB Darryl Sharpton, rated one of the top 150 seniors in Florida, selected Miami over Stanford. He also had offers from Brown and Massachusetts, plus late interest from Boston College and Florida. The last Miami signee from Coral Gables (where the UM campus is located) was LB Jonathan Vilma. As a senior, Sharpton had 96 tackles, two interceptions and four blocked punts. A four-year starter, he had 113 tackles as a junior. He runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. An outstanding student who took five advanced-placement classes as a senior, he has a 4.0-plus GPA and an 1,180 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves. "When the Stanford coaches (Buddy Teevens and his staff) were fired, at first I thought I might end up going to an Ivy League school," Sharpton said. "It was a dream come true when Miami came through with a scholarship offer (in December). It's a great university and obviously an amazing football program. People have been telling me for the last four years that I remind them of Jonathan Vilma, and I hope I can live up to his reputation during my time in college and hopefully the NFL." Oakland Park (FL) Northeast LB Demetri Stewart, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Florida, chose Miami over Auburn (visit) and Oklahoma (visit). He also had offers from Alabama, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, FSU, Georgia, Iowa, LSU, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Rutgers, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Wisconsin and others. Born and raised in Jamaica, Stewart moved to the United States with his family when he was 11. As he grew in high school, he played safety, then linebacker, then end, then linebacker again. He had 65 tackles and 10 sacks as a junior, then 112 tackles and eight sacks as a senior. A Miami summer camper, he runs the 40 in under 4.6 seconds and the 100 meters in 10.9 seconds. He has a 3.2 GPA and a qualifying ACT score. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is tight ends coach Mario Cristobal. Clearwater (FL) Catholic OL A.J. Trump, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Florida, picked Miami over Florida, N.C. State (visit), Notre Dame and South Florida (visit). A two-time, first-team Class 2B all-state selection, he also had offers from Clemson, FSU, Georgia, Louisville, Maryland, Mississippi and UNC. Trump, who has 11 brothers and sisters, said he was leaning toward Notre Dame until coach Tyrone Willingham was fired in December. Projected as a guard in college, Trump runs the 40 in 5.1 seconds. He has a 3.2 GPA and an 1,110 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is offensive line coach Art Kehoe. "The recruiting process has been kind of crazy for me," Trump said. "Just when I thought I was ready to commit to Notre Dame, Coach Willingham got fired. Some other schools where I liked everything about the football team just didn't have much to offer academically when I learned more about them. The more I learned about Miami, the more I liked the university, and everybody knows about the football team. I'm really looking forward to playing for Coach Kehoe. He's been there for about 25 years, and he's won five national championships. That's awesome." Houston (TX) Washington OL Reginald Youngblood, rated one of the top 25 offensive linemen in the nation, opted for Miami over LSU (visit) and Texas (visit). He also had offers from FSU, Houston, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and others. A projected left tackle in college, he benches 340 pounds, squats 500 and runs the 40 in 5.2 seconds. He has a 3.3 GPA and an 880 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is tight ends coach Mario Cristobal. Others Select ACC Programs Morganton (NC) Freedom DB Jordan Hemby, rated one of the top 25 seniors in North Carolina, committed to UNC over N.C. State (visit). He also had offers from Clemson, Duke, Maryland and Virginia Tech (early). Hemby's father, an N.C. State graduate who lives near the UNC campus (in Hillsborough), cast his vote in favor of the Tar Heels. As a senior, Hemby had more than 700 rushing yards (in only four games at tailback), seven interceptions and 10 touchdowns (seven rushing, three returns) for an 8-3 team. As a junior, he had 55 tackles, seven interceptions and 16 pass breakups. A projected cornerback at UNC, he benches 300 pounds, squats 425 and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 2.9 GPA and a qualifying SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tar Heels is defensive line coach Brad Lawing. Savannah (GA) Windsor-Forest WR Eron Riley, rated one of the top 75 seniors in Georgia, picked Duke over Maryland (visit) and Vanderbilt (visit). He also had offers from Central Florida, ECU and Middle Tennessee State, plus late interest from Clemson. Riley is a friend of Duke TE Ben Patrick, who also is from Savannah. As a senior, Riley had 34 catches for 381 yards and scored seven touchdowns for a 7-4 team. As a junior, he had 31 receptions for 596 yards and five TDs, plus five interceptions on defense as a safety, for a 3-7 team. Riley, whose first name is pronounced "E-Ron," runs the 40 in under 4.6 seconds. A Duke summer camper, he has a 3.5 GPA and a 1,030 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Blue Devils is linebackers coach Brad Sherrod. Rocky Mount (NC) High DB Stephan Virgil, rated one of the top 25 seniors in North Carolina, chose Virginia Tech over UNC (visit). He also had offers from ECU and Wake Forest. A four-year starter, he ranks as Rocky Mount's career leader in games (47) and tackles (336) and among its career leaders in interceptions (13) and touchdowns (31). As a junior, he rushed 52 times for 558 yards, caught 11 passes for 358 yards and scored 16 TDs on offense, and he made 81 tackles and four interceptions on defense for an 8-3 team. A projected cornerback or strong safety at Tech, he benches 285 pounds, squats 385 and runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds. With a 2.6 GPA and a 770 SAT score, he must slightly improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Hokies is defensive line coach Charley Wiles.