Miami is on its way to one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. 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 from Monday through Friday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Miami recruiting news.
In-state 4-star G Evan Neal still high on Miami
Evan Neal spent his entire day last Sunday at The Opening Miami regional standing in a familiar spot. The 4-star guard never moved off left tackle, the position he’s seized has his own during the past year at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Even with ideal size to play tackle, Neal spent most of his time as a major recruit pegged as a future interior lineman. He was always at his best driving forward, paving open holes in the running game and smothering slower defensive tackles.
IMG gave him a chance to change before his junior season in 2017. The Ascenders slid Neal out to left tackle and the move, Neal said, felt natural.
“At the end of the day it’s football,” Neal told DieHards on Sunday in Miami. “You’ve got to know all the positions.”
He had a chance to showcase his rapidly improving skills at tackle at Gibson Park. Neal was flawless through most of 1-on-1s at The Opening regional, only losing a rep when he split a pair during the top-5 portion of the event. His performance earned him offensive line MVP honors and an invitation to The Opening finals in Beaverton, Ore.
IMG Academy (FL)
6-7.5, 391 | 89.55 Rating pic.twitter.com/ZtYi1oCYjB
— Ronny Torres (@RonnyTorresSS) February 21, 2018
Now just about everyone in the country wants Neal, who was once briefly committed to Alabama, as a tackle. Miami wants Neal and the Hurricanes’ severe need for blue-chip tackles has made him a priority.
“Their message is getting me to be a Hurricane,” Neal said.
The Hurricanes have plenty working in their favor to land the 6-foot-8, 375-pound offensive lineman. Neal is a native of Okeechobee, Fla., about 130 miles away from campus. He grew up rooting for Miami and his cousin, Cleveland Gary, was a star running back for the Hurricanes from 1986-88.
RELATED: 2019 Miami recruiting big board
Miami initially separated itself from the pack by recruiting Neal’s parents harder than anyone. The rising senior said it’s still the case, although others are joining the Hurricanes.
“Just communication,” Neal said. “A lot of schools are starting to hit up my parents a lot more. LSU — they’re getting in contact with my parents a lot more. A lot of coaches are asking for my parents’ info, as well.”
Neal, who the 247Sports composite rankings consider the nation’s No. 38 overall prospect, isn’t sure the next time he’ll visit Miami, although he will certainly have a somewhat accelerated timeline. Neal plans to early enroll at whatever school he chooses. Spring and summer official visits are in play, particularly given how difficult the Ascenders’ national schedule can make it for fall college trips.
He knows a return trip to see the Hurricanes will come eventually. Florida State, Oklahoma, Georgia and the Crimson Tide hope to land visits, too, however nothing is set yet.
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Neal said.
Miami adds walk-on long snapper to Class of 2019
Miami’s entire two-deep depth chart at long snapper will depart after next season and the Hurricanes didn’t wait long to rebuild the position. With one long snapper coming in as part of the Class of 2018, Miami rounded out the group Wednesday by securing another preferred walk-on commitment at the position for.
Unranked long snapper Mason Napper verbally committed to join Miami’s 2019 class while taking an unofficial visit.
— Mason Napper (@Mason58_) February 21, 2018
Napper joins unranked long snapper Clay James as walk-on commitments at the position the past two cycles. Rubio Long Snapping rankings has the 6-2, 215-pound rising senior from Lassiter High School in Marietta, Ga., as the No. 15 long snapper in his class. The specialist also plays center for Lassiter.
Long snapper Jordan Butler should retain his starting job for the 2018 season with Sam York serving as his backup. There will be openings in 2019, though, and James and Napper will battle for the starting job.
Parade of unofficial visits continues in Miami
Miami’s running backs room could add quite a few familiar names with the Class of 2019. A pair of legacy athletes are among the Hurricanes’ top targets at the position. Miami brought one of them to campus Wednesday.
Kenny McIntosh, considered a 4-star athlete by the 247Sports composite rankings, made the short trip to Coral Gables, Fla., on Wednesday, continuing a big week of visits for the Hurricanes.
McIntosh, who is the younger brother of former Miami defensive lineman RJ McIntosh, was one of the top running backs in South Florida in 2017. The 6-1, 210-pound rising senior piled up 1,261 yards and 14 touchdowns on 161 carries to help NSU University School of Fort Lauderdale reach the state semifinals. Also capable of playing wide receiver, McIntosh added another 18 catches for 190 yards and 1 touchdown as a junior.
While he’s a legacy and his father is a fan of the Hurricanes, McIntosh has never named Miami his leader. Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame, where broth Deon McIntosh is a running back, are also pursuing the halfback.
McIntosh wasn’t the only high-profile player on campus Wednesday. John Dunmore, a 4-star wide receiver from South Florida, also was on campus. The 6-3, 180-pound pass catcher from Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School in Hollywood, de-committed from Florida on Jan. 22 and added a “dream offer” from Florida State on Saturday.
— Blueprint#1 (@1_blueprint) February 22, 2018
Miami has yet to offer Dunmore, although the Hurricanes handed out offers to a pair of his teammates Friday. Miami also holds a commitment from 3-star weakside defensive end Cameron Williams, who just wrapped up his first season at Chaminade-Madonna College Prep. Like Dunmore, Williams is a former Gators commit.
The Hurricanes did, however, offer another in-state prospect Wednesday. Miami added 4-star cornerback John Dixon to its 2019 defensive back board. The 5-11, 170-pound athlete from George D. Chamberlain High School in Tampa named a top 4 of Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina and the Buckeyes in January.
— JDixon$ (@Jxnny_Dixon) February 21, 2018
Dixon played his junior season at Tampa’s Paul R. Wharton High School, where he also played running back and wide receiver.
WR commit Leonard Manuel snags All-America invitation
It’s been a good week for Leonard Manuel. The rising junior, ranked as the No. 1 player in the Hurricanes’ Class of 2020 by 247Sports, kicked it off Sunday by securing an invitation to the Rivals 5 Star Challenge thanks to a strong performance at the Rivals 3 Stripe Camp in Celebration, Fla.
On Tuesday, it got even better. The wide receiver from Vanguard High School in Ocala, Fla., got an early invitation to one of the biggest stages in his sport. The U.S. Army All-American Bowl sent out a rare invitation to Manuel before he even finished his sophomore year of high school.
The Army All-American Bowl was bound to invite Manuel eventually. Unrated in the 247Sports composite rankings, the 6-5, 195-pound pass catcher is a 4-star prospect in the 247Sports.com rankings and checks in as the nation’s No. 6 overall prospect in his class. Manuel will almost certainly be a star at whatever position he winds up playing, which could even include defensive end.
Good news continued to pour in for Manuel later during the day. Boston College stepped in with an offer for the wideout, bumping Manuel’s total to 24.
— LM||| (@Begreatliltone2) February 21, 2018
— LM||| (@Begreatliltone2) February 21, 2018
Manuel is far from signing with the Hurricanes, but told Rivals.com ahead of the 3 Stripe Camp he is “100-percent committed” to Miami. Manuel previously committed to Tennessee before pledging to the Hurricanes after an unofficial visit during November.
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