Miami is on its way to one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, and David Wilson and the DieHards.com 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 prepares for major official visit weekend
The past season felt like a turning point for Miami under Mark Richt. The No. 11 Hurricanes reached the ACC Championship Game for the first time in school history during only the coach’s second season at the helm. They secured Top 25 wins against Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, and finished the regular season unbeaten at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami finished the regular season with only 1 loss and did so as one of the coolest teams in the country thanks to the sensation that was the turnover chain.
The Hurricanes’ best chance to keep their momentum rolling will descend on Coral Gables, Fla., this weekend. At least 19 committed members of Miami’s Class of 2018 will be on campus this weekend for the Hurricanes’ biggest slate of official visits this winter. There’s almost no chance Miami loses any of these 19 to a de-commitment. This is a group that — along with a handful of others who aren’t visiting this weekend — should be able to form the Hurricanes’ core for most of the next four years.
No matter what happens between now and February, Richt’s second shot at building a strong Miami recruiting class has been a rousing success. The Hurricanes enter the weekend with the No. 3 class in the country, the top-ranked class in the ACC and a group of prospects already ranked nearly 30 points higher than last year’s. Even if Miami loses 4-star cornerback Josh Jobe this weekend, the Hurricanes recruiting class will still be worth 271.03 points, good for No. 4 nationally and about 25 points better than a year ago.
Let’s quickly run through everyone who is expected to be on campus this weekend and what Miami can get out of their attendance:
- Lorenzo Lingard, University (Orange City, Fla.): The 5-star running back is one of the leaders of this class and will enroll early. He can help get some of the last few commits to sign early.
- Al Blades Jr., St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): The 4-star cornerback doesn’t plan to sign early. The Hurricanes hope they can change that this weekend and prevent the son of former Miami safety Al Blades from taking official visits to Tennessee and Michigan.
- Mark Pope, Miami Southridge: The 4-star wide receiver is another one of the leaders of this class and plans to enroll early. Like Lingard, Pope can further establish himself as a leader and get an idea of the role he should play for the Hurricanes as a freshman.
- Brevin Jordan, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.): Unlike most of the Florida-heavy class, the 4-star tight end only visited Miami once this fall. This will be a good chance for him to connect with the rest of the group in person and establish himself as a leader. The Hurricanes also want to lock him in to signing Wednesday even though he won’t early enroll.
- Gurvan Hall, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.): The 4-star safety flirted briefly with other programs, but seems to be totally locked in with Miami now. He’ll sign Wednesday and then early enroll, which should put him on track for early playing time.
- Cam’Ron Davis, Miami Carol City Senior (Miami Gardens, Fla.): The 4-star running back isn’t enrolling early and it’s not clear yet if he’ll sign next week. The Hurricanes will try to make sure he officially shuts things down Wednesday.
- Brian Hightower, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.): The 4-star wide receiver also didn’t get to campus much this season because of IMG’s national schedule. He’ll get a chance to spend some time with his soon-to-be teammates before he signs early and early enrolls with a chance for immediate playing time.
- Delone Scaife, Miami Southridge: The 4-star offensive guard is locked in with the Hurricanes. He’ll sign Wednesday and early enroll. Once he gets to campus, he’ll start competing for the left guard job.
- Gilbert Frierson, Coral Gables (Fla.) Senior: Even after he visited Georgia and Kentucky, the 4-star cornerback doesn’t seem likely to flip before he signs next week. Miami just needs to make sure Frierson is 100 percent sold before he early enrolls.
- Will Mallory, Providence (Jacksonville): The 4-star tight end will sign Wednesday even though he can’t early enroll. He’ll also get a chance to spend some time with some future teammates he hasn’t seen too often this fall.
- Cleveland Reed, Fort Meade (Fla.) Middle-Senior: The 4-star offensive guard currently doesn’t plan to sign early, and wants to visit North Carolina and Oklahoma. Getting Reed to shut things down next week will be a top priority for the Hurricanes.
- D.J. Ivey, South Dade (Homestead, Fla.): The 4-star cornerback plans to sign Wednesday, then early enroll.
- Daquris Wiggins, Miami Southridge: The 3-star wide receiver is another under-the-radar prospect signing Wednesday and early enrolling. The Hurricanes can get to work with an intriguing developmental pass catcher.
- Gregory Rousseau, Champagnat Catholic (Hialeah, Fla.): The 3-star weakside defensive end is in the same mold as Wiggins. He will sign next week, then early enroll. Miami can lay out its vision for the 6-foot-7 former free safety.
- John Campbell, Dr. Phillips (Orlando): The 3-star offensive tackle will sign next week, then early enroll. The Hurricanes need some long-term help at tackle and will lay out a plan for Campbell’s development.
- Patrick Joyner, South Dade (Homestead): The 3-star weakside defensive end has already been convinced to shut things down. Joyner will sign alongside Ivey on Wednesday, even though he won’t early enroll.
- Realus George, Pace Academy (Atlanta): The 3-star fullback will shut things down Wednesday by signing, even though he can’t early enroll. This weekend will mark only his second visit to Miami.
- Bubba Baxa, Pasadena (Texas) Memorial: The 3-star kicker plans to sign Wednesday, even though he’s not early enrolling. Baxa only visited the Hurricanes once during the fall.
- Clay James, Cocoa (Fla.): The unranked long snapper is committed to Miami as a preferred walk-on, so he can’t officially sign next week. The Hurricanes will get to detail James’ path to a scholarship in person.
This leaves only three currently committed members of the class who aren’t planning to be on campus this weekend. One is 4-star dual-threat quarterback Jarren Williams, who took his official visit last month and will sign with Miami on Wednesday. Another is 4-star defensive tackle Nesta Silvera, who will wait until January — possibly the weekend right before National Signing Day — to visit with 5-star cornerback Tyson Campbell and 4-star weakside defensive end Andrew Chatfield. The last is Jobe.
Which brings us to the elephant in the room. Instead of spending the weekend in South Florida, the 4-star cornerback is off to Tuscaloosa, Ala. At this point it would be a surprise if the defensive back didn’t leave as an Alabama commit. He spent this fall playing for Cheshire (Conn.) Academy rather than Miami’s Christopher Columbus High School and even though the Hurricanes were able to get a fair amount of face time with the athlete, the allure of the No. 4 Crimson Tide is tempting. Coach Nick Saban went for an in-home visit last week and hopes to get Jobe to sign with him next week, even though the corner won’t early enroll.
There’s only so much Miami can do from afar. The Hurricanes’ best hope now is Jobe will wait and Miami can host him for an official visit in January.
T John Campbell wraps up high school career with state title
Dr. Phillips High School had an unusual motivational tactic to get through this fall and be sure to never get over the disappointment of coming up short in the 2016 Class 8A state championship game. Each Friday during the postseason, the Panthers donned their runner-up medals as they walked the halls of their Central Florida school.
“It means something,” Campbell told the Orlando Sentinel after Dr. Phillips won its semifinal game against Wekiva (Fla.) High School earlier this month.
The strategy worked out. The Panthers held off Atlantic Community High School of Delray Beach, Fla., on Saturday to win their first state title 17-7 in Orlando. As he did all season, Campbell manned the left tackle position for Dr. Phillips’ balanced offense.
The Panthers managed to win the state championship mostly thanks to their defense. Dr. Phillips managed fewer than 200 yards of total offense and didn’t score an offensive touchdown. Even the Panthers rushing attack, which totaled 124 yards, could only pick up 2.4 yards per carry.
The last game of Campbell’s career was an outlier. With the 6-5, 303-pound offensive lineman paving the way, Dr. Phillips piled up more than 2,000 rushing yards this season, an average of more than 150 yards per game. The passing offense wasn’t far behind as quarterback Besean McCray finished with just fewer than 2,000 passing yards.
Campbell’s most immediately evident skill is his punishing ability in the running game. Even at 6-5, he’s slightly undersized for a prototypical tackle, but that’s OK. He gets downfield well enough to open big holes for his running backs.
Like most of his future teammates in his recruiting class, Campbell will be on campus this weekend for his official visit and then will sign his national letter of intent on Wednesday. He’s on track to early enroll, which he tells 247Sports’ Christopher Stock will be important to his development.
“It’s very important because I basically have six months to prepare to get bigger, stronger and faster for the season before all of the other non-early enrollees come,” Campbell said. “When I get there, I’m not going to take the program lightly.”
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