Miami’s strong start isn’t a surprise to IMG 5-star RB Noah Cain

Miami recruiting-Noah Cain-Evan Neal

BRADENTON, Fla. — Not long after Mark Richt was hired as Miami’s coach before last season, Noah Cain became one of the top priorities for the Hurricanes in the Class of 2019. Miami became only the fourth Power 5 school to offer Cain back in May of 2016 before a consensus built around Cain as an obvious 5-star running back.

Cain, now a junior for Bradenton’s IMG Academy, knew right away the Hurricanes would be a team he’d strongly consider. With Richt in the fold, Miami was a team on the rise, in Cain’s mind. A 4-0 start to 2017, complete with a win against Florida State on Saturday, has only validated Cain’s thoughts.

“They’re building it up,” he said. “I said that right when they offered me.”

Almost a year and a half after the Hurricanes offered, Miami still finds itself in good position for Cain, and the strong start to the season is only helping.

There will be myriad factors in play whenever Cain makes his decision, but the No. 11 Hurricanes are at least doing their part to make Coral Gables, Fla., an appealing destination for the 247Sports composite ranking’s No. 1 running back.

“I knew they were building it up,” Cain said. “I said it from the beginning. I said Coach is going to build something special and it’s already starting.”

Miami has stiff competition right now. It’s still early in the process for the Texan, and he hasn’t shown any particularly strong lean. He has an extensive list of suitors, headlined by Texas A&M, LSU, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska, in addition to Miami.

This weekend, he’ll take his second unofficial visit of the season to see the Longhorns face the No. 12 Sooners in Dallas. It’ll be his second time seeing Oklahoma this season. He was also in Norman, Okla., on Sept. 16 when the Sooners hosted Tulane.

He’s not sure if he’ll make it to a game in Miami Gardens, Fla., this fall — IMG frequently travels out of state and plays Saturday games — but he wants to get back down for an unofficial visit during the offseason. He took a few visits during the summer with senior teammates Artur Sitkowski and Brian Hightower, both of whom are committed to the Hurricanes.

The rest of the season could be telling, too, as Miami will be forced to play without a clear-cut stud running back. The Hurricanes already have two elite backs committed in the Class of 2018 with 5-star prospect Lorenzo Lingard and 4-star running back Cam’Ron Davis, and pulling in another potential superstar like Cain would require a delicately balanced rotation. The rest of this season will be different, but could provide clues of how Miami would like to balance a more-even backfield.

“The depth chart’s going to mean a lot, but at the same time so many things can happen,” Cain said.  “Lorenzo and Cam are two great backs. I know they’ll do great things in that offense, so just seeing how they want to use them in the offense and how they want to use — that’ll have a lot to factor in before I make my decision.

“You need depth at the running back position. It’s so brutal and so physical.”

The strong start to Richt’s tenure, though, is still what’s most important to Cain. His list mostly includes programs which have frequented the top 10 for the past few years with a couple of schools from his home state thrown in.

Wins like Saturday against Florida State could make the Hurricanes a fixture in the former group.

“They already got a great recruiting class with that ’17 class and the ’18 class is going to follow, so I knew something was going to be happening special with that offense,” Cain said. “I’m not surprised they’re doing great things.”

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