No ad­di­tions, but ’Canes kept ’20 class in­tact

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS THURSDAY - By David Furones

The first day of the Early Sign­ing Pe­riod in Co­ral Gables was a mix­ture of op­ti­mism sur­round­ing 18 re­cruits that signed their Na­tional Let­ters of In­tent to ac­cept a schol­ar­ship to play foot­ball for the Mi­ami Hur­ri­canes and the dis­ap­point­ment of UM not adding any one of sev­eral tar­gets whose de­ci­sions came down to the end.

All in all, for a team that is 6-6 as it heads to the In­de­pen­dence Bowl, end­ing the reg­u­lar season with losses to FIU and Duke, UM got through Wed­nes­day with a top-20 re­cruit­ing class across all the re­cruit­ing ser­vices. Ri­vals ranks Mi­ami’s 2020 class No. 16, 247 Sports has the Hur­ri­canes at 17 and ESPN tabs them 19th.

With the Early Sign­ing Pe­riod still run­ning through Fri­day and the re­cruit­ing cy­cle for the 2020 class still yet to reach Fe­bru­ary’s tra­di­tional Na­tional Sign­ing Day, the rank­ings were a small dip from where UM started the day. Diaz said he ex­pects 13 of the 18 signees to also en­roll early at Mi­ami, be­gin­ning col­lege school­work in the up­com­ing spring se­mes­ter and be­com­ing el­i­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate in spring drills.

“All across the coun­try, there’s a podium with a coach be­hind it, and he’s talk­ing about the virtues of his class and how pleased he is with all the guys he signed,” Mi­ami coach Manny Diaz said to start a press con­fer­ence at the school wrap­ping up the day. “Cer­tainly, I’m no dif­fer­ent in that re­gard, but the way I want to start this is to not talk about their tal­ents and their achieve­ments on the field. I want to talk about the men­tal­ity that I think makes these 18 guys very spe­cial.

“The re­cep­tion we got back from them was, ‘Coach, not only are we with Mi­ami, not only are we with the ’Canes — we’re com­ing to solve the prob­lem. We’re com­ing to be the fix. We’re com­ing to get this thing right.”

While Mi­ami didn’t sign any play­ers that weren’t al­ready com­mit­ted head­ing into Wed­nes­day, as other schools had late ad­di­tions to boost their class rank­ing, the Hur­ri­canes also lost the com­mit­ment of Ge­or­giabased three-star pass rusher Romello Height, who flipped to Auburn on Wed­nes­day after­noon af­ter he re­port­edly took a week­end visit there.

“If you’re com­mit­ted to us and take other vis­its, you can con­sider your­self com­mit­ted to us, but we’re go­ing to look for some­body else,” Diaz said. “That’s why, in our mind, we did not lose a com­mit­ment to­day.”

Tech­ni­cally los­ing Height, UM also struck out on tar­gets who an­nounced early sign­ing de­ci­sions on Wed­nes­day.

Most no­tably, the Hur­ri­canes were un­able to get Home­stead South Dade four-star safety Jaiden Fran­cois, who had com­mit­ted and de­com­mit­ted from Mi­ami twice in his re­cruit­ment.

The in­de­ci­sion con­tin­ued at the team’s cer­e­mony at his school. He left his seat at the ta­ble where he was set to make an an­nounce­ment two dif­fer­ent times af­ter tak­ing a phone call be­fore fi­nally re­turn­ing to pro­claim he was choos­ing Ne­braska over the Hur­ri­canes.

In the after­noon, the na­tion’s top line­backer, ac­cord­ing to both 247 Sports and Ri­vals, Justin Flowe, had a Mi­ami hat on the ta­ble for his an­nounce­ment from Up­land, Cal­i­for­nia, on ESPNU. The five-star prospect chose Ore­gon and coach Mario Cristo­bal, a former UM of­fen­sive line­man, over the Hur­ri­canes, Clem­son and South­ern Cal.

The Hur­ri­canes have a po­ten­tial quar­ter­back of the fu­ture in Con­necti­cut­based four-star sig­nal caller Tyler Van Dyke.

Mi­ami added two bluechip tal­ents at run­ning back in South Florida four-star prospects Don Chaney Jr. of Mi­ami Be­len and Deer­field Beach’s Jay­lan Knighton.

The Hur­ri­canes picked up three wide re­ceivers in slot tar­get Xavier Restrepo, Knighton’s team­mate at Deer­field, IMG Academy’s Michael Red­ding III and Daza­lin Wor­sham out of Alabama. Four-star tight end from Naples, Do­minic Mam­marelli, joins Mi­ami, which is still also in the hunt for Dar­nell Washington, a five-star re­cruit at the po­si­tion who an­nounced on Tues­day he was not sign­ing Wed­nes­day.

Diaz called Mi­ami’s two of­fen­sive line signees, Or­ange Park Oak­leaf’s Jalen Rivers and Nashville-based Chris Washington “tackle bod­ies … which has been a strug­gle for us to get tackle bod­ies through the years, guys that we can de­velop in our pro­gram.”

UM signed three de­fen­sive line­men. Chantz Wil­liams, an Un­der Ar­mour All-Amer­ica se­lec­tion out of Oak­leaf like Rivers, and Quentin Wil­liams out of Charlotte are de­fen­sive ends while Mi­ami Colum­bus’ Eli­jah Roberts will start at end but could grow into a de­fen­sive tackle.

Miss­ing on Flowe, a pair of three-star lineback­ers are com­ing to Co­ral Gables. Diaz said Corey Flagg out of Houston is an “in­stinc­tual” player while New Jersey’s Tirek Austin-Cave brings “elite speed.”

Three safeties join Mi­ami and all from South Florida: Four-star tal­ents in South Dade’s Ke­shawn Washington and Cham­pag­nat’s Jalen Har­rell, who could also end up play­ing cor­ner­back or striker, and Mi­ra­mar’s Brian Balom. The Hur­ri­canes got cor­ner­back Mar­cus Clarke out of Win­ter Park.

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