2020 Freshman 15: April Edition

2020 Freshman 15: April Edition

Stefan Adams
Welcome to the first 2020 edition of the column I like to call “The Freshman 15”. If you’re a first time reader, this will be a focus on the rankings and the order of the top 15 uncommitted (to Miami) recruits the coaching staff is pursuing.

The order will be based mainly on:
  • How likely a recruit is to commit to Miami at the time
  • Skill level
  • Miami's need at their position

This column will be updated throughout the cycle each month and will show movement up or down for each recruit as the list is updated.

The Freshman 15 returns for another cycle of recruiting madness. For the initial 2020 board, we kick things off with loads of talented star athletes that have all visited campus at least once this spring. Landing even half this board would be a massive win for Manny Diaz’s first real recruiting class. The board also reflects the Canes huge needs this cycle across the lines and in the secondary.

Let’s get into the board for April.

1. Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Glastonbury, CT (Suffield Academy)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 210 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #411 Overall

Evaluation: A passer who typically will spend more time under center then in the gun. Runs a very efficient, under center, play-action type offense and seems very natural in it. Gets in rhythm and gets the ball out with a purpose with great placement. A true arm talent that is a very natural thrower who can sling it with high velocity. Can make every single throw in a route tree, an offensive coordinator’s dream. Not the most mobile or athletic QB, and is more old school pro-style. Well coached with his footwork and is efficient with his drops.

In The Mix: Boston College, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Duke, Purdue make up some of the programs chasing Van Dyke along with the Canes.

Latest: It is essential to land a quality QB prospect in every class, so the position’s importance will always help gunslingers land towards the top of this board. After rushing to fill the 2019 QB void in less than a month, new OC Dan Enos has a little bit more time to find his guy this go around. Van Dyke and Evan Prater could essentially be considered 1a and 1b at this point, as Enos loves both, but since I have to pick one, I’ll give the nod to Van Dyke since he is slightly more highly regarded in recruiting circles right now. Van Dyke is coming off a spring break visit tour where he got to see the Canes’ campus, along with Michigan State, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, UCLA, Louisville, Purdue, Colorado, and Pittsburgh. So, as you can see, Van Dyke is very open right now, and has not narrowed down any leaders or top groups to give hints where he might be leaning. For his part, Van Dyke did enjoy his trip to Coral Gables and it helped UM overall, but Van Dyke is going to be tough to pull from the north in the end. With a decision expected by the end of the spring, you would like to see a return visit soon to feel more confident in Miami’s chances.

2. Evan Prater, QB, Cincinnati, OH (Wyoming)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 190 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #510 Overall

Evaluation: Athletically gifted with a big arm that isn’t afraid to let it rip downfield. Your classic “Boom or Bust” type QB with loads of upside but needing to refine the particulars of the position. Plus mobility and can make defenders miss in the open field. Extends plays by sliding around the pocket or getting to the outside to buy receivers time to get open. Inconsistent with ball placement and footwork, but those issues are correctable. All the tools to become a very good college QB.

In The Mix: Miami, Purdue, Michigan State, Louisville, and Cincinnati among others.

Latest: Enos just offered Prater last month, but the talented signal-caller already set up and took a visit to Coral Gables for junior day less than 2 weeks back. Miami’s offensive coordinator gave a lot of special attention to Prater on the visit and it seems UM made a move. The question is, how much of a move? Prater also recently visited schools much closer to him up north like Cincinnati and Michigan State, and also has Purdue high up in his picture, so if he decided he was ready to leave the general northern area, UM would be in a great position. Prater wants to make a summer choice, and it seems to be a race against Van Dyke and others for who would commit first and take the QB slot in Miami’s class.

3. Jalen Carter, DT, Apopka, FL (Apopka)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 300 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #115 Overall

Evaluation: Built like a freak and has really put on a lot of good weight in the past year. Plays from consistent position of leverage and knows how to use his body to his advantage. Sets up blockers well with quick hands. Exceptional in working against redirect blocks and accelerates through the line to finish the play. Pursuit quickness from back end allows him to corral ball-carriers and clean up potential big plays. Explosive with big closing burst when he locks on to his target.

In The Mix: Auburn, FSU, and Miami are believed to have a slight lead, with UGA, Florida, and others not far behind.

Latest: Carter has long been Manny Diaz’s biggest want on the defensive side of the ball in the 2020 class, and it’s not hard to see why. Many top programs in the country are all over Carter, who is a rare combination of size and athleticism in the middle of a defense. There’s just not a lot of guys like Carter out there, and that’s good for UM, as Carter has been high on the Canes in the past. Carter was most recently on campus for a junior day event back in February, and Miami also got him on campus for Paradise in 2018. Carter is also giving a hard look at schools like Auburn, FSU, Florida, and UGA. In particular, Auburn is going to be the school to watch out for here. Carter is visiting the Tigers for their spring game this month and it will be interesting to see if Gus Malzahn and Co. can take advantage and make a move.

4. Marcus Dumervil, OT, Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 300 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #135 Overall

Evaluation: The most impressive part about him is how well he carries his 300 pound frame; he can easily add another 25+ pounds and you probably wouldn’t notice that much because of how his weight is distributed. He can be overwhelming at times on the edge, smothering defenders. Shows very quick feet, so that even if he is beat off the snap, he recovers well to get in good position to make his block.

In The Mix: Pretty much every school in the country is going after Dumervil, such as LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, UGA, and others.

Latest: Miami and Butch Barry have really been making Dumervil a priority on the offensive line, and Dumervil has already visited UM multiple times this spring. That’s right in step with how Dumervil had been interacting with Miami before the coaching change, and he was a mainstay at home games this season. Early on, many saw Miami as Dumervil’s leader and he always talked up UM extremely highly, but as more and more top programs start to push for the trench star, Dumervil seems more open than ever. With UM failing to secure an early commitment, it looks like this battle could go on through the season, as Dumervil recently told CIS that he is likely to wait until December or January to announce anything. Dumervil has official visits coming up this month to LSU and Oklahoma, which seems like a positive for Miami since he isn’t planning on an early decision. The Canes just have to stay in the game here and show they can win under Manny Diaz’s new leadership, as a winning program is going to be one of his deciding factors.

5. Chantz Williams, DE, Orange Park, FL (Oakleaf)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 220 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #103 Overall

Evaluation: Makes his living in the opponent backfield and it’s tough for offensive linemen to square up on him with his speed off the edge. While he needs to add weight for the next level, his first step is devastating and he has the potential to be a dynamic pass rusher for whoever lands his services.

In The Mix: Miami is in his top 5, along with FSU, Florida, Alabama, and UGA.

Latest: Williams is another top-tier recruit that Miami seemed to have an early lead for, but a source close to the recruitment told me that Williams is much more open these days and is not as sure of a bet to commit to UM anymore. The Canes were an easy shoo-in for his top 5 though, which was released in February and also included FSU, Florida, UGA, and Bama. Williams got to a Miami game at Hard Rock last season, and also attended Paradise Camp in 2018 as well. He is planning his next UM visit for this month to take in one of Miami’s spring scrimmages. An interesting variable to this recruitment is that Williams is planning on being a package deal with his high school teammate Jalen Rivers as of now. Although we’ve seen plenty of early declarations of package deals end up going by the wayside, this one has a chance to last considering both prospects’ blue-chip pedigree, so it will be interesting to see how things develop here.

6. Avantae Williams, S, Deland, FL (Deland)

Ht 5-11 | Wt 170 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #46 Overall

Evaluation: An extremely hard-hitter that knows how to lower the boom on his opponent. Elite track speed makes him a dangerous weapon not only on interception returns, but kick returns and gadget plays on offense as well. Those type of wheels give him great range on the back end, and you can trust him in single-high coverages to clean up any mistakes. Reads the QB’s eyes well, and closes quickly on his target to pummel him into the ground. Would like to see more ball skills show up, but he is truly an exciting safety prospect with no ceiling.

In The Mix: The Oregon commit is still considering Miami, Florida, and UGA.

Latest: The curious case of Williams continues on. After committing to Miami in early 2017, Williams looked like a lock to sign with UM when you consider his family ties to the program in Lorenzo Lingard and his lack of visits to other schools. That all changed when he surprisingly decommitted from UM in May 2018, and in an even more shocking move, committed to Oregon in December without ever visiting the Ducks. It’s hard to believe he ends up in Eugene knowing he hasn’t seen campus, with a child here in Florida, and with all the in-state schools pressing him for a flip. The Canes have stayed on him hard though, and finally got him back on campus last weekend, where safeties coach Ephraim Banda did great work in convincing him his place is at Miami. As of now, Williams is planning on being in Eugene this month for Oregon’s spring game. Watch and see if he follows through with that visit; if he does, his chances of sticking with the Ducks go way up.

7. Fred Davis, CB, Jacksonville, FL (Trinity Christian Academy)

Ht 6-1 | Wt 180 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #33 Overall

Evaluation: Great frame with long arms. Plays with confidence and presses his man aggressively. Shows natural ball skills when the ball is in the air and can take an interception back to the house with ease. Not afraid to stick his nose in the mix and make a tackle. Gets in and out of his breaks smoothly and shows good technique in his backpedal. Sports great quickness in a phone booth and accelerates rapidly. Could improve his footwork and hand placement, but is an elite-level corner with vast potential.

In The Mix: Miami, Alabama, UF, Ohio State, Clemson, and UGA.

Latest: Davis is a prospect that favored Miami early and always talked highly of the Canes. Some even thought he could join Jaiden Francois on the commit list and pledge to UM early on, and was last on campus for a visit early last month. However, as of late, he has opened up the process much more, and has started looking at other schools such as Alabama, UF, Clemson, Ohio State, and UGA. Davis is being recruited as a true blue-chipper right now, and the Canes will have to go toe-to-toe with some of the best programs in the nation to land him. In particular, many feel Clemson has started to pull in front here, and Davis will be at their spring game this weekend. Davis also recently visited UF as well.

8. Issiah Walker, OT, Miami, FL (Norland)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 285 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #172 Overall

Evaluation: Long and lean left tackle prospect that oozes athletic upside. Only adequate strength-wise right now, and needs to build his power, but has the type of quick feet that will help him stay at tackle long-term. At his best when he can get out in space and make climb blocks on the second level. Shows ability to redirect block with good technique. Could play with better leverage at this point and getting lower will benefit both his pass sets and run blocking.

In The Mix: The South Carolina commit is also considering FSU, Auburn, and Alabama along with UM.

Latest: Walker made an early commitment to the Gamecocks about a year ago, but he has really blown up since and is being pursued by everyone in the country at this point. He’s essentially in Miami’s backyard at Norland, and the staff at UM is pulling out all the stops to add him to the roster. The Canes got him on campus back in February and have tried to get him back again recently, but Walker has elected to go on a visit tour this spring instead, seeing UF, FSU, and UCF in recent weeks. As for upcoming visits, Walker plans to see FSU again for their spring game this weekend, followed by spring game visits to Auburn and Alabama. He has also set his South Carolina official for next month. Walker isn’t planning on making a final decision until December, so the Canes simply have to hang around here and slowly chip away at his South Carolina commitment.

9. Jonathan Denis, OG, Homestead, FL (South Dade)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 280 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #338 Overall

Evaluation: Advanced run-blocker that shows top-notch athletic ability, with movement skills that are smooth and unencumbered for a man of his size. He’s mobile enough to reach the second level of a defense with ease, featuring climbs to linebackers as a work-up blocker. Punishing presence on the line and doesn’t stop until he drives his opponent to the ground; if he gets his hands on a defender and locks on, it’s over. Also known for his intelligence off the field and has the best GPA’s on his team. That type of IQ can only aid his efforts to become an impact player at the next level.

In The Mix: Miami, FSU, Oregon, LSU, and Mississippi State are in contact with Denis the most.

Latest: Denis’ high school coach at South Dade recently told CIS that he is at Miami almost every weekend, as Denis grew up a big Hurricanes fan and has three current teammates that are committed to the Canes. Miami has certainly been going very hard after Denis, as new OL coach Butch Barry met with Denis either at his school or on UM’s campus over 10 times in the first month he was hired at Miami. The former UM commitment feels like he could be next recruit to join Category20, as he has teased his impending recommitment on Twitter at times. Despite schools like LSU, Oregon, and FSU pushing for Denis as well, I still feel really good about my Miami pick here and it feels like a matter of time before he rejoins the fold.

10. Jalen Harrell, CB, Miami, FL (Miami Central)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 180 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #271 Overall

Evaluation: Great frame and breaks on the ball with explosion. Elite in run support from the edge and shows very good tackling form. Demonstrates great closing burst to make a play on the ball. Launches himself like a projectile at his target and is a devastating hitter. Physical corner that loves to play press-man and bump and run. Works his off-hand well. Shows good pattern recognition and instincts that help him shut down yards after catch.

In The Mix: Harrell is considering Miami, FSU, and Clemson at the moment.

Latest: The Canes have really positioned themselves well with Harrell, as they have gotten him on campus three times this spring alone. Harrell’s family have always been big Canes fans, and it’s clear they are pushing him towards the orange and green. Harrell has always loved the U as well, and seems to always be in awe when talking about UM. It’s safe to say UM has built a little bit of a lead here, but they will have to hold off schools like FSU and Clemson to land him. Harrell is coming off an FSU visit this past weekend, and plans to be at Clemson this weekend for their spring game.

11. Jaylan Knighton, RB, Deerfield Beach, FL (Deerfield Beach)

Ht 5-9 | Wt 185 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #102 Overall

Evaluation: Elite straight-line speed that makes him seem like he was shot out of a cannon. A true burner that is still physical enough to lower his shoulder and run through contact. Shows an effective jump cut to defeat contain and swiftly run away from the flow of the defense. Love how decisive he is with his cuts and he doesn’t dance around in the backfield; in other words, he gets north-south very quickly. Crafty in leaking out of the backfield as a pass-catcher and is a threat in the screen game.

In The Mix: Knighton has publicly named Clemson his leader, while Miami, FSU, South Carolina and others are pushing to pull even.

Latest: Knighton’s already had a wild recruitment and it’s only two months into the cycle. A long time Oklahoma commitment, the Deerfield star decommitment from the Sooners in January and named Clemson his leader soon after. Sources close to the situation felt Knighton was destined to end up with the Tigers, however, things have changed lately. Clemson has made major progress with Lakeland RB Demarkcus Bowman, to the point where they expect him in Death Valley now, leaving Knighton’s status with the Tigers up in the air. If Clemson starts to slow play Knighton, the Canes have put themselves in a great position to land him, as they have gotten Knighton on campus three times over the past two months. TE coach Stephen Field’s connections to Deerfield have really made a huge difference here in UM’s surge with Knighton. Knighton is expected to be at FSU’s spring game this weekend and is expected to come to a final decision in August.

12. Caziah Holmes, ATH, Cocoa, FL (Cocoa)

Ht 6-0 | Wt 180 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #198 Overall

Evaluation: Has the versatility and athleticism to play many different spots, including running back, receiver, and defensive back. Can run away from you in a hurry with great straight-line speed, but average in his change of direction and turning the corner. A threat to go the distance any time he touches the rock. A natural with the ball in his grasp and has soft hands to reel in passes.

In The Mix: Miami leads here, while Ohio State, Michigan, and FSU make up some of Holmes’ other favorites.

Latest: Holmes hasn’t been shy about naming Miami his leader in the past and one source close to his recruitment was surprised he hadn’t already committed to the Canes. However, Holmes has backed off an early decision as of now and wants to play out the process until December at the earliest. Miami originally was trying to push him towards defensive back and Holmes was open to that, but now the Cocoa star is saying he will be staying on offense in college. Both RB and WR are starting to fill up in UM’s class and Miami is after tons of talented options at those positions, so if Holmes truly does want to be a Hurricane like he’s been indicating, he would be wise to secure a spot sooner rather than later. He was most recently in Coral Gables last weekend, and he plans to be at FSU this upcoming weekend.

13. Jalen Rivers, OT, Orange Park, FL (Oakleaf)

Ht 6-6 | Wt 330 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #141 Overall

Evaluation: Solid wide-build and powerful with long arms. A plus run-blocker that accelerates in his run fits and isn’t afraid to get nasty with his opponent. Active feet that are always moving into position to secure his block. Good timing on combo blocks. Shows high awareness when climbing up to the second level and is able to lock on to smaller targets and bury them.

In The Mix: Top 5 includes Miami, Bama, UGA, Florida, and FSU.

Latest: As previously mentioned, Rivers is planning on being a package deal with Chantz Williams. The pair are off to a good start in that endeavor, as both of their top 5 schools are identical, including Miami, Bama, UGA, Florida, and FSU. After initially looking like a Miami-lean, Rivers has gone basically media-silent these past few months and doesn’t let a lot of info leak out of his camp, so he’s going to be one that will be difficult to predict until it gets closer to his decision date. He will join Williams at an upcoming Miami scrimmage this month, and UM really needs to grab some momentum back on that visit.

14. Antoine Sampah, LB, Woodbridge, VA (Woodbridge)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 230 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #31 Overall

Evaluation: Devastating hitter and goes full speed 100% of the time to punish his opponent. A true blue-chipper that sports sideline-to-sideline burst and is a force in the middle of a defense. Call him the eraser in that he cleans up any mistakes up front and he sheds blocks exceptionally well to wrap up his target. Has the instincts and anticipation to excel in coverage as well.

In The Mix: Considering Bama, Clemson, Penn State, Miami and Oregon among others.

Latest: Sampah had an intriguing Miami offer story in that he was the one who got in touch with the coaches and let them know he was interested in the Canes. He grew up a big-time UM fan that idolized Ray Lewis. Strangely though, it seemed the two parties were drifting apart the past few months, and UM was in danger of falling out of this race completely. However, Miami offered Sampah’s teammate and close friend RJ Adams in late February, and that sparked a junior day visit for the pair in late March. That has kept UM in the game for the time being, but it is going to be difficult to hang around for an out of state kid with schools like Alabama and Clemson pushing hard. Winning on the field is usually a prerequisite to landing an out of state 5-star, but Sampah plans to make his decision before the season starts. A silver lining here is that Sampah is throwing around the idea of going to school with Adams, and the Canes are clearly one of Adams’ early leaders. For now, it’s wait and see with Sampah.

15. Lejond Cavazos, CB, Bradenton, FL (IMG Academy)

Ht 6-1 | Wt 190 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #289 Overall

: Raw talent jumps off the page with him. Physically tantalizing with the speed to run a 4.3, but the prototypical NFL frame to body bigger receivers. However, his technique and skills at corner need a lot of work, chief among them being hand placement, footwork, and hip flexibility. Still, his pure tools can be overwhelming at times, and he can succeed in high school on talent alone. His learning curve will be through the roof when he hits college.

In The Mix
: His top 6 includes Miami, Oregon, LSU, UGA, UF, and Ohio State.

: Miami seemed to be way out of the Cavazos sweepstakes for a long time, even after he decommitted from Ohio State back in December. However, Manny Diaz taking over had him and his family more interested in UM, with Cavazos’ father having a relationship with Diaz dating back 25 years. That led to a February visit to Miami, which Cavazos raved over, and the Canes were suddenly in the thick of things for the IMG star. UM made his top 6 over the weekend, which also included Oregon, LSU, UGA, UF, and of course Ohio State, and he also announced his intention to pick a school on April 12th. It wasn’t the best timing for UM’s chances though, as the declaration was made shortly after Cavazos visited Ohio State, and most feel the Buckeyes are the heavy favorite here. If for some reason the pick is not OSU, though, Miami is certainly in the best position of any of the other programs to benefit.

First 5 out

As always with the first edition of the cycle, there are plenty of talented and deserving names that could arguably be included on the board, but just missed the cut due to limited spots. Here were the first 5 out.

1. CB Keshawn Lawrence

2. LB Jayion McCluster

3. DT Kedrick Bingley-Jones

4. OT Michael Carmody

5. WR Darin Turner

Comments (42)

I’m trying real hard to be positive after reading that but man that was bleak. Denis seems like the only guy we have a decent lead for. Personally, I don’t feel good about our chances with any of those guys as most give me an SEC or out of state feel. I think this list will change significantly after spring.
I like Van Dyke. The ball explodes out of his hand, even when he's scrambling and flicks the wrist. He's also a big kid who has enough movement skills, although not a big run threat.....but he does move around and continues to look downfield, something our QBs have struggled with here of late. What impresses me most about his film is the ball placement of some throws....against the sideline, in tight windows, etc. You don't see that as much in HS these days with the spread offenses and guys running open.
Van dyke- very good arm and placement, but people still have questions do to the competition he plays. How much does competition play into whether a prospect can be successful on the college level?
I don't think Walker is going to be an easy flip. Or if he does, I am not so sure it will be to us. He is headed back up to FSU for the second time in as many weeks. He seems pretty pro Gamecock still.

Same for Holmes. Don't think this is going to be easy for Miami at all. He is also headed back up to FSU this weekend.
I don't think Walker is going to be an easy flip. Or if he does, I am not so sure it will be to us. He is headed back up to FSU for the second time in as many weeks. He seems pretty pro Gamecock still.

Same for Holmes. Don't think this is going to be easy for Miami at all. He is also headed back up to FSU this weekend.

The Holmes recruitment seems very similar to the Mark Anthony Richards one (sans his brother being on the team)
I'm a sucker for stupid arm strength so the Van Dyke kid's highlights really caught my attention. He's not a great athlete but he can throw very well on the run so it's not like he's totally one dimensional.

As for most of the list, this season's results will determine whether we sign one or two of these kids or a majority of them. The recruiting momentum we lost last year was a direct result of the poor on-field showing of the team. If we're competing for ACC championships and playoff births, they'll come in droves.
I'm a sucker for stupid arm strength so the Van Dyke kid's highlights really caught my attention. He's not a great athlete but he can throw very well on the run so it's not like he's totally one dimensional.

As for most of the list, this season's results will determine whether we sign one or two of these kids or a majority of them. The recruiting momentum we lost last year was a direct result of the poor on-field showing of the team. If we're competing for ACC championships and playoff births, they'll come in droves.

While I agree with you that having a successful season is important, I don’t think they will come in droves this season. I think it’s effect this season will be more about the 2021 class and keeping the 2020 commits we have by the start of the season.

Most of these kids will already know where they are headed by the end of our season. We will have a good shot with kids that are leaning FSU/AUB because if either of those teams have the season we are expecting, their coaches will be on the hot seat, if not fired. You can add the Turds to that list because I think we beat them and make the ACCCG. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will have a huge effect this year on the kids that are leaning Baga, Clemson, OSU, UGA and OU. It will be huge difference maker for the 2021 class.