Miami’s coaching staff took a major — and surprising — hit Monday. Craig Kuligowski, widely regarded as one of the best defensive line coaches in the country, is leaving Coral Gables, Fla. His next destination hasn’t officially been announced, but reports indicate the assistant coach is going to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take the same position with Alabama.
Kuligowski drew criticism for only landing one blue-chip defensive line prospect in 2018, but there’s no doubt his ability as a technician is appealing to high school defensive linemen. Nesta Silvera, a 4-star defensive tackle, signed with the Hurricanes on Feb. 7 and said the chance to play for Kuligowski was a major appeal. Miami was able to sign relative projects, like 3-star weakside defensive end Gregory Rousseau and 3-star defensive tackle Jordan Miller, in the Class of 2018 with the expectation Kuligowski would develop them.
The biggest concern in losing Kuligowski is the hit Hurricanes will take developmentally. On the recruiting trail, though, Kuligowski was also still one of the their most important recruiters.
Kuligowski’s presence, for example, was a major appeal to top target Khris Bogle. Even though defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is the 4-star weakside defensive end’s primary recruiter, Bogle placed Miami high on his list at least in part because of Kuligowski. The defensive end from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., still says this doesn’t effect the Hurricanes much in his estimation.
“It happens, but I love Coach Kool,” the Class of 2019 defensive lineman told DieHards in a message. “I know he’s going to recruit me hard, but I will always be a ‘Canes fans no matter who’s gonna be the next coach.”
Denzel Daxon, a 3-star defensive tackle from Doral (Fla.) Academy Preparatory School, is Miami’s highest ranked defensive line commit in the class and was primarily recruited by Kuligowski. The defensive lineman took to Twitter to express his thoughts.
— Denzel 9️⃣3️⃣ (@Dreamchaser_zel) February 20, 2018
Kuligowski was the primary recruiter for Cameron Williams and got the 3-star weakside defensive end to flip from Florida during January. The defensive end from Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School in Hollywood, Fla., reached out to Kuligowski himself during December and the coach offered him the next day. Kuligowski’s decision surprised the rising senior defensive end.
“I’m shocked,” the edge rusher told DieHards in a message, “but I understand it’s his career and I wish for the best.”
— Cameron Williams (@getfreshcam) February 20, 2018
Jahfari Harvey is one of the few major 2019 targets who probably won’t be effected much by Kuligowski’s departure. Diaz is also the primary recruiter for the unranked weakside defensive end from Vero Beach (Fla.) High School. Kuligowski could have been an appeal for Harvey once the defensive end got to know him. For now, the coaching change doesn’t affect him one way or another.
“I haven’t talked to him yet,” the end told DieHards in a message.
Kuligowski’s departure will also affect Miami in the Class of 2020. The Hurricanes already hold one commitment on the defensive line in the 2020 class. Unranked in the 247Sports composite rankings, strongside defensive end Tre’von Riggins is a 4-star prospect in 247Sports.com’s rankings. He also claims Kuligowski as his primary recruiter. Kuligowski’s departure stunned Riggins, but the defensive lineman from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., declined to comment.
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