Miami recruiting: Hurricanes keep options open for defensive line class

Daniel Carson-Miami recruiting-Miami football

Miami is on its way to one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, and David Wilson and the team are in the eye of the storm to help you track the Hurricanes. Read daily notebooks here at 10 a.m. ET Monday through Friday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Miami recruiting news.

Miami hosts pair of new defensive end targets

No position group for Miami has had more targets emerge during the fall than defensive line. The Hurricanes have cracked top groups for elite defensive tackles and sent out a flurry of offers to defensive ends. Little more than a week ago, Miami even flipped 3-star weakside defensive end Patrick Joyner from Florida State.

The recent trend continued last week, with the No. 10 (College Football Playoff rankings) Hurricanes hosting a pair of defensive linemen for official visits.

The more pressing target to make his way down to Coral Gables, Fla., was Daniel Carson, a 3-star strongside defensive end from William Chrisman High School in Independence, Mo. The defensive end stopped by campus last weekend with his mother after hosting defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski for an in-home visit earlier in the week.

Carson is a late-emerging target for the Hurricanes and they’ll have time to sway him. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound end doesn’t plan to sign during the new early signing period. He’ll take his official visit to Nebraska this weekend and also has No. 3 Oklahoma, Texas and No. 5 Ohio State on his radar. He took an official visit to Austin, Texas, last month.

Getting down to campus so quickly after Miami reconnected with him, however, made Carson feel wanted. The senior told 247Sports’ Andrew Ivins the Hurricanes’ coaches have lofty expectations for him.

“He compared me to RJ McIntosh,” Carson said. “He said that I would be moving around a lot because of how athletic I am and compared my athletic ability to his.”

Carson, rated the No. 22 strongside defensive end in 2018 by the 247Sports composite, projects as more of a defensive tackle in Miami’s 4-3 defense. Therefore, finding another interior lineman is now more of a priority for the Hurricanes. Miami already has two edge rushers committed with Joyner and 3-star weakside defensive end Gregory Rousseau (although both could wind up at linebacker). The Hurricanes should also be the front-runner for 4-star weakside defensive end Andrew Chatfield, another player who could move to linebacker.

RELATED: 2018 Miami recruiting big board

While Miami’s most established defensive lineman in the Class of 2018 is a 4-star defensive tackle, the Hurricanes don’t have anything beyond Nesta Silvera. At this point, Carson may be the most likely option to pair with Silvera. Miami is facing stiff competition for 4-star defensive tackle Michael Thompson and the Hurricanes seem to have cooled on 4-star defensive tackle Dennis Briggs, who said he was close to committing to the Florida State before coach Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M.

Earlier during the week, Miami brought another defensive lineman to campus. Chris Collins, a 3-star weakside defensive end committed to North Carolina, made his way to South Florida for a midweek visit. The 6-5, 215-pound end from Benedctine College Preparatory in Richmond, Va., hasn’t done any interviews since his trip; however, the senior has long seemed solid in his pledge to the Tar Heels. The Hurricanes were just taking the opportunity to feel out another potential option at defensive end.

Gregory Rousseau-Miami recruiting-Miami football
Gregory Rousseau is one of the more versatile players in the Class of 2018. (David Wilson/DieHards)

Gregory Rousseau makes smooth transition to DE as senior

No matter where he lines up on the field, Gregory Rousseau tends to look out of place. At 6-7 and 235 pounds, Rousseau doesn’t look much like any other player. He’s taller than just about any other free safety, the position on defense he’s played most frequently at Champagnat Catholic School in Hialeah, Fla. Most 3-star weakside defensive ends like Rousseau don’t have his length, either. Rousseau even dwarfs most top wide receivers — he was an all-state selection at the position a year ago.

The only name which really makes sense invokes a pretty lofty comparison.

“He’s already taller than Jason Taylor,” Champagnat Catholic coach Dennis Marroquin told DieHards on Monday. “Obviously, Jason Taylor is a big name to talk about, but that’s who I compare him to and I think a lot of guys have compared him to.”

The comparison works even better given a fun fact Marroquin learned during the past few days. Like Rousseau, Taylor was also a wide receiver in high school. The experience as a pass catcher, Marroquin feels, helped Rousseau thrive at his new position as an edge rusher this fall.

“When you play receiver and you’re trying to shake a DB and use your hands,” Marroquin said, “the transition to defensive end is doing the same thing using your hands and attacking an offensive tackle.”

Rousseau began to thrive by the end of the season and the timing was perfect. The Lions capped off a dominant season Friday with a 24-7 win against Jacksonville’s University Christian School at the Class 2A state championship in Orlando. The senior was Champagnat Catholic’s most dominant defensive force in his last game, leading the Lions with 9 tackles, 3 1/2 tackles for a loss and 2 1/2 sacks. He finished his year with 13 1/2 tackles for a loss, 10 1/2 sacks and a team-leading 84 total tackles in only 11 games.

Early on, Rousseau admits the adjustment was a challenge. His speed and experience in coverage made him a dangerous weapon in some aspects — particularly at outside linebacker — while he battled a learning cover in other facets. Simply dealing with bigger tackles was a new experience. He had to learn how to use his speed as a weapon.

“It was a challenge,” Rousseau said. “It was really fun at the end. I was making plays. I think I was exploding a lot.”

Rousseau is on track to sign his National Letter of Intent on Dec. 20 and enroll at Miami for the spring semester. The Hurricanes’ depth in the front seven means Rousseau will have the luxury of redshirting while he continues to adjust to his new position.

The top priority will probably be bulking up a little bit more. He added about 20 pounds during the last offseason and another 20 pounds would get him in position to be a contributor. Then it will be about becoming more polished as a pass rusher to complement his rare athleticism for the position.

“I don’t think it’ll be a problem at all,” Marroquin said. “He’ll be 255 pounds next thing you know.”

Jarren Williams plans to push hard for ATH Marquez Ezzard

Jarren Williams has only been a member of Miami’s next class for a few days. Because of his position, though, it’s hard to see him being anything but a leader for this group of Hurricanes going forward.

Part of it is because of how long he’s felt like a member of the class. The 4-star dual-threat quarterback first played with about half a dozen Miami commits at The Opening Final during the summer in Beaverton, Ore., and his ties made him an obvious choice for the Hurricanes to target when 4-star pro-style quarterback Artur Sitkowski flipped to Rutgers in November.

Jarren Williams-Miami recruiting-Miami football
Jarren Williams is the newest member of Miami’s Class of 2018. (Joe Mussatto/SEC Country)

While Williams isn’t quite as plugged in with some of Miami’s top remaining targets down in South Florida, the quarterback wants to help the Hurricanes land the fourth wide receiver this class could use.

“Marquez Ezzard,” the senior from Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville, Ga., told DieHards.  “I played with him in the rising senior game, an all-star game, so I’ve seen him in action.”

A senior at Stockbridge (Ga.) High School, Ezzard is considered a 4-star athlete in the 247Sports composite rankings and was previously committed to Florida State. The 6-2, 195-pound athlete de-committed from the Seminoles in November even before it became clear Fisher was leaving.

Although Ezzard could play free safety, his greatest success has come at wide receiver. This fall, Ezzard piled up 1,023 yards and 13 touchdowns on 46 catches. Miami has three wide receivers on track to early enroll — including 4-star U.S. Army All-Americans Mark Pope and Brian Hightower — but are still poking around for a fourth. Ezzard seems to be the most likely option.

He’s not the only prospect Williams is hoping to sway. The whole group is putting a full-court press on Tyson Campbell. When Williams was asked about the 5-star cornerback, the 6-3, 211-pound signal caller could just smile and nod his head.

“Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep,” he said.

CB Josh Jobe locks in official visit with Alabama

Anyone who follows Josh Jobe on Twitter already knows the 4-star cornerback has some serious affection for Alabama. Despite being committed to Miami, the majority of Jobe’s recent interest points toward him flipping to the No. 4 Crimson Tide.

The Hurricanes got more bad news Monday about the nation’s No. 13 cornerback . Jobe officially locked in his plans to be in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for an official visit this weekend rather than heading home to officially visit Miami with nearly every other member of the Hurricanes’ incoming class.

Jobe and Williams, who took his official visit to Miami last month for the Hurricanes’ win against then-No. 3 Notre Dame, are the only two members of the class who are confirmed not to be heading to the Miami metropolitan area this weekend. It seems to be a strong possibility that Jobe is no longer a member of the Hurricanes’ 2018 class by the time the weekend is over.

It’s been quite a winding road from Jobe’s solid commitment to Miami to this point. The defensive back, who also played running back at the time, began his high school career at Miami’s Christopher Columbus High School, but transferred to Cheshire (Conn.) Academy for his senior year because he was too old to play under Florida High School Athletic Association rules. While he didn’t de-commit, the senior said he would listen to offers up in Connecticut. Alabama and Michigan quickly got involved.

Jobe did return home a handful of times, once getting dinner with the Hurricanes’ coaches in Coral Gables and then attending Miami’s win against the Fighting Irish in Miami Gardens, Fla. At this point, though, there’s no guarantee Jobe will even take an official visit to see the Hurricanes. The athlete could sign with the school of his choice as early as Dec. 20.

Miami should be able to hang on to every other defensive back in this loaded class, though. Gurvan Hall, a 4-star safety, was thought to be a potential flip threat; however, he hasn’t taken any official visits and is on track to sign during the early signing period.

Gilbert Frierson is one of the few exceptions. The 4-star cornerback visited Georgia for the No. 2 Bulldogs’ regular-season finale and went to Kentucky last weekend.

The senior is on track to enroll early, which means he’ll also be signing during the early period next week. He’ll take his official visit to see the Hurricanes this weekend. Miami hopes to quell any final concerns about a potential flip.

Miss a previous edition? Find every post of DieHards’ daily Miami recruiting notebook right here.

The post Miami recruiting: Hurricanes keep options open for defensive line class appeared first on Diehards.

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