Posted: 12:57 pm Thursday, January 9th, 2014
By Matt Porter
Last updated Feb. 1, 2014
January on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline radio show, Al Golden mentioned the Hurricanes will have 82 players under scholarship for the 2014 season. Seems like a good time to break down UM’s scholarship situation, offer Cliff’s notes on the incoming recruiting class and early thoughts on the position groups.
Background: The Hurricanes were docked nine scholarships over a three-year period by the NCAA as penalty for the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Those sanctions are mostly mitigated by the fact UM operated with 76 scholarship players last year, which is less than the yearly NCAA limit of 85.
Current status: Removing players with no remaining eligibility from the current roster and adding early arrivals, Miami has 65 players under scholarship heading into signing day (Feb. 5).
Update (Feb. 1, 2014): UM’s scholarship numbers and the corresponding analysis have been updated after recent news. See below for a full breakdown.
Who’s coming: As of Jan. 31, UM’s class was ranked eighth nationally by ESPN.com, eighth by Rivals.com and 10th by 247Sports.com. The ‘Canes plan to add a lot of potentially helpful pieces.
On offense, UM has a strong verbal commitment from a standout quarterback (Brad Kaaya), a few intriguing receivers with length (Tyre Brady, Darrell Langham) and a hybrid receiver/tight end (David Njoku). In addition, two ready-to-play offensive linemen (Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling) a skilled slot receiver (Braxton Berrios) and a speedy, shifty back (Joseph Yearby) have enrolled early.
On defense, Chad Thomas is considered one of the nation’s best defensive end prospects, while his high school teammate Demetrius Jackson is a raw but talented athlete. Pass-rushing defensive tackle Anthony Moten is highly regarded, while junior college nose tackles Michael Wyche and Calvin Huertelou should provide immediate help. Early enrollee Juwon Young is a stout linebacker prospect while defensive end Trent Harris could help the pass rush. Safety Kiy Hester appears ready to earn early reps.
UM is still chasing several blue-chip prospects, including Hialeah-Champagnat defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (who de-committed but still considers the ‘Canes an option) and Immokalee cornerback J.C. Jackson. Both would help at positions of need. Heralded receiver Derrick Griffin (6-7, 230), who signed last year but did not qualify, plans to head elsewhere.
Here’s how UM’s depth looks coming off a 9-4 season in 2013, along with a few thoughts on where certain players stand on their positional depth charts before offseason workouts begin.
2014 ROSTER (as of Feb. 1)
Offense: 31 scholarship players (3 QB, 5 RB, 8 WR, 4 TE, 11 OL), includes 4 Jan. enrollees; 13 walk-ons
Defense: 33 scholarship players (12 DL, 9 LB, 12 DB), includes 4 Jan. enrollees, 2 junior college signees; 9 walk-ons
Special Teams: 1 scholarship player (1 K); 6 walk-ons
Totals: 65 scholarships; 28 walk-ons
Verbal commitments: 8 offense, 8 defense
Freshmen: 26 (not including 16 verbal commitments)
On scholarship (3): Ryan Williams, R-Sr.; Gray Crow, R-Soph.; Kevin Olsen, R-Fr.
Walk-ons (3): Garrison Lassiter, R-Fr.; Michael Welch, R-Fr., Isaac Hoza, R-Fr.
Verbal commitments (2): Brad Kaaya, Fr., Malik Rosier, Fr.
Analysis: Williams earned the backup job to Stephen Morris (and plenty of respect from his coaches) last training camp, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be the starter in 2014. Despite his end-of-season suspension, UM is far from giving up on Olsen. The ‘Canes were the first major offer for Kaaya, who improved greatly as a high school senior; a source said offensive coordinator James Coley “thinks the world of him,” while a longtime recruiting analyst told the Post he thinks Kaaya could be a “future star.” Crow, who lost his third-string job to Olsen before the bowl game, hasn’t shown a lot in limited action. Rosier is a speedy runner who could be featured in a zone-read package, the kind of look UM hasn’t shown in recent years.
On scholarship (5): Dallas Crawford, R-Jr.; Duke Johnson, Jr.; Walter Tucker, Soph.; Gus Edwards, Soph.
Early enrollee: Joseph Yearby, Fr.
Verbal commitments (0).
Walk-ons (1): De’Andre Johnson, R-Sr.
Analysis: A healthy Duke means a healthy offense, but Johnson won’t return until fall practice. He will miss UM’s April 12 spring game, which creates a vital opportunity for Crawford and Edwards. Neither proved themselves to be game-breaking backs with Johnson out last year, but they’re excellent complimentary pieces. Tucker projects to take over Maurice Hagens’ fullback spot, but also worked at linebacker last season. Yearby (out this spring with an ankle injury of his own) is a small, shifty back with speed. Enrolling early increases his chances of playing early, but his injury makes him a redshirt candidate.
Wide receivers (8): Phillip Dorsett, Sr.; Rashawn Scott, Sr.; Herb Waters, Jr.; Garrett Kidd, Jr.; Malcolm Lewis, R-Soph.; D’Mauri Jones, R-Soph.; Stacy Coley, Soph.
Early enrollee: Braxton Berrios, Fr.
Walk-ons (7): Stephen Sweeney, Jr.; John D’Uva, Jr.; Joseph Rodgers, Jr.; Malik Mayweather, R-Fr.; Greg Golden, R-Fr.; Josh Johnson, R-Fr., Josh Harris, Fr.
Verbal commitments (4): Tyre Brady, Fr.; Darrell Langham, Fr.; Trayone Gray, Fr., David Njoku, Fr.
Analysis: As productive as he was, Allen Hurns’ departure shouldn’t hurt the ‘Canes too much. Coley should have no trouble assuming the No. 1 receiver role, and Waters, a healthy Dorsett and Lewis and a head-on-straight Scott will offer plenty of options to whomever wins the QB job. Kidd, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship late last season, and Jones could do more to distinguish themselves. The most intriguing addition might be Berrios (5-9, 181), a talented slot receiver. Brady (6-3, 187) and Langham (6-4, 205) are lankier targets. Gray (6-1, 190), who can play safety, quarterback and running back, is expected to start his UM career as a receiver. It is questionable, however, whether he will qualify for admission. Njoku (6-4, 220) played receiver in high school but has the body type to bulk up and play tight end.
Tight ends (4): Clive Walford, R-Sr.; Beau Sandland, Sr.; Jake O’Donnell, R-Soph.; Standish Dobard, Soph.
Verbal commitment (1): Chris Herndon, Fr.
Walk-on (1): Isai Cetoute, Jr.
Analysis: With Walford skipping the draft to return for his senior year, this is a well-rounded position for Miami. Despite dropping the occasional pass, Walford (6-4, 259) is an athletic target and has greatly improved his blocking. He has a chance to be one of the best tight ends in the ACC. Sandland (6-6, 255) has lots of upside as a receiver and will be more involved in the offense this year. Dobard (6-4, 260), who showed inconsistent hands in the team’s December open practices, will for now grab the block-first role formerly held by Asante Cleveland.
Offensive linemen (11):
Malcolm Bunche, R-Sr.; Shane McDermott, R-Sr.; Jon Feliciano, R-Sr.; Hunter Wells, R-Jr.; Ereck Flowers, Jr.; Danny Isidora, R-Soph.; Taylor Gadbois, R-Soph.; Alex Gall, Soph.; Sunny Odogwu, R-Fr.; Hunter Knighton, R-Fr.
Early enrollees: Trevor Darling, Fr.; Kc McDermott, Fr.
Walk-ons (1): Sean Harvey, R-Sr.
Verbal commitments (1): Reilly Gibbons, Fr.; Nick Linder, Fr.
Analysis: Might take a slight step back after losing the skill and experience of Brandon Linder, Seantrel Henderson and Jared Wheeler, major pieces of a unit which allowed 13 sacks during the regular season. However: Flowers (left tackle) is quietly becoming elite, Feliciano (left guard) is mean and reliable, McDermott (center) is experienced, Isidora (right guard) was spoken highly of by coaches before his injury. Those are the potential starters. With Bunche opting to transfer, the door is open for Gadbois or the younger McDermott to win a starting role. Similarly on the cusp are Gall and Wells, each of whom could see time at guard. Odogwu, all 6-8 and 330 pounds of him, was raw last year and Knighton, who redshirted due to injury, had to put on weight, but both are talented. It would not be a surprise if Darling or McDermott, both physically and mentally mature, used their head starts and got into the mix as true freshmen. Linder (6-3, 280) projects as a center. Gibbons, who flipped to Stanford, would have almost certainly redshirted.
Defensive ends (5): David Perry, R-Sr.; Anthony Chickillo, Sr.; Dwayne Hoilett, R-Soph.; Al-Quadin Muhammad, Soph.
Early enrollee: Trent Harris, Fr.
Walk-ons (1): Anthony Naser, Sr.
Verbal commitments (2): Chad Thomas, Fr.; Demetrius Jackson, Fr.
Defensive tackles (7): Olsen Pierre, Sr.; Ufomba Kamalu, R-Jr.; Jelani Hamilton, Jr.; Corey King, Jr.; Earl Moore, Jr.
Junior college signees: Calvin Heurtelou, Jr.; Michael Wyche, Jr.
Verbal commitments (2): Anthony Moten, Fr.; Courtel Jenkins, Fr.
Analysis: Chickillo, who reportedly received a fourth-to-fifth-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, opted to return to school. Highly touted as a recruit, he’s been steady, if unspectacular, in his first three years. Last year, he played end in a three-man front, opposite Pierre. In a four-man front, he and Pierre became tackles.
In 2014, one of the ends in that “speed” package will almost certainly be Muhammad, who at 6-4, 240 is up 15 pounds from when he came to UM. The other might be Thomas (6-5, 240), considered one of the best pass-rushers in the nation. Kamalu, a tall (6-6, 285) 5-technique, will see lots of playing time. This could be the year Hamilton (6-5, 285) and/or Hoilett (a 6-3, 235-pound end) emerge. Jackson (6-4, 220) will need time to develop – he was a basketball player who took up football his senior year – but could be a fine edge rusher in time.
UM likes to mix odd and even fronts, and because of that, it must find a new nose tackle with the departure of Curtis Porter and Justin Renfrow. The best odds to win a starting job are on Wyche (6-4, 340) or Heurtelou (6-3, 300), both of whom are grown men who will arrive early (January, in Heurtelou’s case; May for Wyche, because of an ACC rule discussed here). Neither King (6-1, 296) nor Moore (6-1, 302) made an impact last year. Four-star recruit Travonte Valentine is considered a higher-caliber player than any nose tackle UM has had in recent years, but he appears headed to LSU after backing off his UM commitment. Moten (6-4, 292), the No. 7 defensive tackle in the nation according to Rivals.com, appears to be more of a 3-technique, while Jenkins (6-2, 294) appears fit for the nose.
Outside linebackers (6): Denzel Perryman, Sr.; Thurston Armbrister, R-Jr.; Tyriq McCord, Jr.; Alex Figueroa, Soph.
Early enrollees: Juwon Young, Fr., Darrion Owens, Fr.
Verbal commitments (2) Mike Smith, Fr.
Inside linebackers (3): Raphael Kirby, Jr.; JaWand Blue, R-Soph.; Jermaine Grace, Soph.
Walk-ons (3): Jared Goldenberg, R-Fr., Dane Sellers, Fr., Ryan Williams, Fr.
Verbal commitments (1): Terry McCray, Fr.
Analysis: Perryman, a projected third-round draft pick, opted to return to school and will continue to be a force on the weak side of UM’s 4-3. Inside, Kirby and Grace project to replace Jimmy Gaines, a swap of athleticism for experience. Young (6-2, 230) could develop into a good middle linebacker. Figueroa, who missed time with a shoulder injury last season, should be the starting strong-side linebacker if healthy, unless McCord proves himself to be an every-down player, rather than a situational pass-rusher. Owens (6-3, 215) is a redshirt candidate who could switch to safety, though his early enrollment could help his chances to play early. UM has a talented mix of hybrid linebacker/defensive end players with McCord, Jackson, Harris (6-2, 225) and Smith (6-2, 220). All told, the pass rush should be better next year.
Cornerbacks (9): Ladarius Gunter, Sr.; Tracy Howard, Jr.; Antonio Crawford, Jr.; Nate Dortch, R-Soph.; Larry Hope, R-Soph.; Artie Burns, Soph.; Corn Elder, Soph.; Ray Lewis III, R-Fr.
Early enrollee: Ryan Mayes, Fr.
Walk-ons (2): Keion Berry, Soph.; Wyatt Chickillo, R-Fr.
Verbal commitments (0)
Nigel Bethel, Fr.
Safeties (3): Rayshawn Jenkins, Jr; Deon Bush, Jr.; Jamal Carter, Soph.
Walk-ons (3): Hugo Delapenha Jr., R-Sr.; Nantambu-Akil Fentress, Sr.; Jordan Tolson, Sr.;
Verbal commitments (2): Marques Gayot, Fr.; Kiy Hester, Fr.
Analysis: The cornerback rotation could look the same as late last year, with Gunter and Howard projected as starters and Burns and Elder earning time. Bethel would have been UM’s fastest corner and seen plenty of time, but he changed his commitment to Texas Tech. Mayes (6-2) is a long corner who could play this fall. The challenge for Dortch and Hope is to prove they are more than depth guys. It’s unclear what Lewis’ role will be; he switched from running back to corner last season and ended it on team-issued suspension for an undisclosed issue (along with Scott and Olsen).
Bush wasn’t healthy last year and UM needs him to be, because he has the highest upside of the safeties. Jenkins and Carter are solid players, with Carter’s ceiling being slightly higher. Gayot (6-1, 205) and Hester (6-0, 200) may be needed early, given UM’s potential lack of depth here.
Kickers (1): Matt Goudis, R-Jr.
Walk-ons (2): Josh Bacon, Soph.; Grant Coffman, R-Fr.
Punters: Walk-ons (2): Ricky Carroll, R-Sr.; Austin Barnard, R-Fr.
Long snappers: Walk-ons (2): Ronald Regula, Sr.; Frank Gabriel, Jr.
Analysis: Goudis had a rough patch early last season, but made a 49-yarder and was perfect on extra points. He’ll handle kickoff duties. Whoever takes over as punter – Barnard was the backup last year – won’t be Pat O’Donnell. Then again, few punters are.