2020 Freshman 15: August Edition

2020 Freshman 15: August Edition

Stefan Adams
Previous: April, May, June, July

Welcome to the fifth 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 targets 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.

From last month's board, the Canes stayed hot and received commitments from the #2 prospect (Chantz Williams) and the #14 prospect (Marcus Clarke) on this board. Multiple dead periods the past two months have stifled much of the recruiting progression we saw over the summer and spring, but we're now in official visit season, where prospects that have played coy throughout the cycle now have to narrow their lists and show their cards. Two-thirds of the way to the first signing day in December, spots in Category20 are becoming scarce and UM is focusing on a few top-tier prospects to close things out.

Let’s get into the board for August.

1. Issiah Walker, OT, Miami, FL (Norland) (Last Month: 1)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 310 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #156 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: Walker is also considering FSU, Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Penn State, and Auburn along with UM.

Latest: Here we go. Walker just threw a curveball into his recruitment this past week by naming the Florida Gators his leader after sitting in the UF section for the UM-UF game, telling the media he wants to see more contact from the Hurricanes. If it’s true that Miami hasn’t been recruiting him as hard as the Gators, it’s a bit surprising seeing how Walker had been priority #1 on the O-Line over the summer, and really since the commitment of Jalen Rivers. I’m personally not too worried at this point, as this recruitment is going to go the distance, and this is likely just another bump in the road for Walker and Miami that nobody will remember in a few weeks. I see it as similar to the controversy stirred up when Walker “accidentally” left Miami out of his top 15 list a few months back, but I’m not as strong on my Miami pick at this point. This is shaping up to be the yearly “typical South Florida kid” recruitment that drives half the fanbase mad and leaves the other half apathetic. Buckle up.

2. Justin Flowe, LB, Upland, CA (Upland) (Last Month: 3)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 225 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #5 Overall

Evaluation: Flowe has a prototype inside linebacker frame with a powerful lower body. Plays with a non-stop motor that, when combined with his freakish athleticism, makes him extremely disruptive all over the field and he is always around the ball to make a play. Clocked an impressive 4.68 laser 40 recently and his coverage ability has improved year-to-year in high school. A truly violent and devastating hitter. Takes on blocks well, and knows how to use his strength and hands to shed and wrap up the ballcarrier. A+ at running down plays from the backend and he is a middle linebacker that can be trusted to shadow the entire field. He is simply the complete package at LB.

In The Mix: Flowe’s top 4 includes Clemson, Georgia, Oregon, and Miami.

Latest: The indicators coming out of Hecht had been saying that the Canes were in this recruitment much more than people realized. Lo and behold, when Flowe released his top 4 earlier this month, the Canes made the cut, while some of his perceived favorites like Alabama and local school USC were shut out. While many feel Clemson took the lead after a visit just before the dead period, and it is difficult to bet against the Tigers the way they’re recruiting right now, program sources continue to feel that this recruitment is not over yet. This will come down to the official visits and how UM finishes their season, but Miami certainly has the advantage over the other three when talking early playing time, something that is certainly speaking Flowe’s language right now. Flowe’s first official visit is set to Clemson in November.

3. Darnell Washington, TE, Las Vegas, NV (Desert Pines) (Last Month: 8)

Ht 6-8 | Wt 260 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #12 Overall

Evaluation: A physical presence with an incredibly chiseled frame. Long strider as a runner and clocked a 4.78 laser 40, but seems quicker on tape. Great hands and knows how to use his body to make himself an available target. True red-zone weapon that makes quick work of linebackers and safeties. Knows how to high point the ball in traffic. Big target who can run past most linebackers. Has the power and length to really become and standout run blocker.

In The Mix: Washington has a top 5 of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Penn State in addition to Miami.

Latest: Miami has been right near the top of Washington’s recruitment for some time now, so it was no surprise to see UM make his top 5 earlier this week. Washington and his family were really impressed with UM over Paradise Camp weekend, and they felt that Manny Diaz and the rest of the staff really made them a priority on a weekend with so many stars at the event. UM has done a really good job building a relationship with Washington at all levels, including Diaz, TE coach Stephen Field, and Brevin Jordan. An incredible start to Jordan’s season at TE hasn’t hurt either, and Washington has Miami so high in his mind because they’ve demonstrated they know how to use the TE, while other schools only talk about it. Many feel Georgia has jumped out to a lead here, but similar to Flowe, the official visit and Miami’s season will have a huge impact on this recruitment. Washington has a November official set to Alabama as of now.

4. Dazalin Worsham, WR, Trussville, AL (Hewitt-Trussville) (Last Month: 5)

Ht 6-0 | Wt 185 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #251 Overall

Evaluation: Smooth and athletic strider. Plays with sudden feet on routes underneath. Plays much faster than his listed 4.8 speed. Will take what the defense gives him and shows ability as a possession receiver. Huge threat in the screen game as an elusive runner after the catch in the open field with a shred of daylight. Impressive body control in every direction to haul in passes. Willing downfield blocker.

In The Mix: Miami, Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M.

Latest: Worsham took an official visit to Miami in June and it seemed like only a matter of time before he publicly became part of the class. The confidence coming from Miami’s end has lowered a bit now that it’s been two months and that hasn’t happened; it seems the visit high wore off here. Worsham is considering Alabama again after they started pushing for him even harder since his decommitment from the Crimson Tide. If he does end up taking an official to Bama during the season, there’s more than a solid chance momentum could swing back the Tide’s way and they could lock Worsham up considering UM already burned their official. He’s also mentioned taking OV’s to LSU and Texas A&M to CIS in the past as well. This will be one to keep an eye on.

5. Brian George, CB, Highland, KS (Highland C.C.) (Last Month: 15)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 190 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, N/A Overall

Evaluation: Brings incredible physicality on the outside of a defense. Striking speed to go along with a long frame and strong build. Has the aggressive demeanor to jam a receiver into oblivion. Lives in his man’s hip pocket and is tough to separate from. Above average tackler that could be an asset in the run game and locks down the edge of the defense.

In The Mix: George has a top 10 of Miami, UGA, Oklahoma, Alabama, UF, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Auburn.

Latest: George has gone media-silent lately, but from Miami’s end, they continue to view him more and more favorably, and it seems he is their top target at corner right now. After offering him in April, UM really started building a relationship with George by bringing him in for Paradise Camp and UM sources really felt they gained some ground with the JUCO product. George visited Auburn just before the dead period and was rumored to be ready to make a decision shortly after his visit, but he ended up holding off. Arkansas and Nebraska are involved here as well and George has visited both the Huskers and Razorbacks this past spring. Auburn isn’t overly confident on their chances with George right now, so Miami would certainly be in a good position to potentially lock up George on his official visit this fall.

6. Ruben Hyppolite, LB, Hollywood, FL (McArthur) (Last Month: 10)

Ht 6-0 | Wt 225 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #265 Overall

Evaluation: Versatile linebacker that is comfortable playing all around the field. Elite playing speed for the position that makes him a valuable asset for any defense. Quick to close and is a heat-seeking missile to the ballcarrier. Splits gaps in the offense with vigor and is proactive when shutting down a run game. Can clean up a lot of mistakes and false steps with his burst. Will chase down runners that make it past the second level.

In The Mix: The Maryland commit is still considering Miami, Alabama, and Penn State.

Latest: Hyppolite’s profile has continued to grow, and he has gotten a bump to 4-star status since last month. Despite his commitment to Maryland, Hyppolite continues to flirt with Miami and visited campus twice just before the dead period, including for Paradise Camp. Miami is treating him like a priority right now, and Hyppolite is planning OV’s to Maryland, Penn State, Alabama, and Miami during the fall. With only one LB spot left, quite obviously Flowe will have first dibs, but I don’t think it’s out of the question for Miami to make room for both if they each want in.

7. Jaylen Harrell, DE, Tampa, FL (Berkeley Prep) (Last Month: 12)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 235 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #287 Overall

Evaluation: An athletic specimen that plays all over the field for Berkeley Prep. Tremendous explosion off the snap and is very fluid for someone of his size. Uses his hands violently, and is workmanlike in setting linemen up to the outside, only to quickly burst inside. Shows the ability to drop back in coverage if necessary and hold his own. Impressive closing speed when he locks onto a target, and finishes his takedowns in a punishing manner.

In The Mix: Seems to be a Big 3 battle between Miami, UF, and FSU.

Latest: Surprisingly, even with the commitment of Chantz Williams, the Canes have continued to pursue Harrell, indicating he’s higher on their board than originally thought and he would likely have a spot in this class if he wants it regardless of numbers. The Canes brought Harrell in for the first fall practice just before the dead period, and Harrell followed that up by sitting in the stands for the UM-UF game last weekend. There’s not much out there on Harrell’s recruitment because he keeps everything so quiet, but he doesn’t take many visits, so getting him on campus again was huge. This is shaping up to be an in-state battle between Miami, UF, and FSU.

8. Avantae Williams, S, Deland, FL (Deland) (Last Month: 9)

Ht 5-11 | Wt 170 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #52 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: Williams ended up showing up to Paradise Camp and it feels like the Canes are off life support and back in the game here. Coach Banda never gave up on him even when it seemed like they were out of it, has stayed in constant contact with Williams the entire cycle, and it has paid off with a likely official visit in the fall. A source close to the situation still feels Georgia is in the best position to land a flip if he defects from Oregon, but it was certainly huge for UM to get him back on campus before the dead period. It was also interesting to hear that Williams’ family is not all the way on board with Oregon due to the distance. We’ll see if UM can continue to make up ground during the season and Williams told CIS he is not going to make a final decision until December signing day.

9. Eli Acker, OT, Columbus, MS (Heritage Academy) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-6 | Wt 285 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #408 Overall

Evaluation: Acker is a long and lean tackle with a mean-streak that plays both ways in high school. A pure tackle prospect, he is an advanced run-blocker and has the frame and athleticism to excel in pass protection with more development. He is a powerful drive blocker that can redirect his man an create big lanes for his back. Would like to see him play with more bend and leverage in the passing game.

In The Mix: The Ole Miss commit is considering the flip to Miami and Mississippi State.

Latest: The Canes have been after Acker for a few months now, but got him on campus for Paradise in June. Being from Mississippi and not taking many school visits, Acker and his family were wowed by the experience of being in the city of Miami and the campus of Coral Gables. He’s admitted that UM is now closing in on Ole Miss and that he plans to return on an official visit this fall. Butch Barry has really made a connection here and the pitch has been that Acker can come be a day 1 contributor at Miami. Although Ole Miss is the local school here, Acker has shown legitimate interest in UM and represents the type of battle with second-tier SEC schools that Miami should be winning. Mississippi State is pushing for a flip here as well.

10. Brian Balom, S, Hollywood, FL (Miramar) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-0 | Wt 180 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #1,250 Overall

Evaluation: Balom flies all over the field, showing great range and recovery speed. Seeing him up close at Paradise Camp, it was impressive just watching him be able to get to so many passes and tip away close calls. Receivers find it very difficult to separate from him and it seems Balom’s only improving every time I see him. He shows great acceleration to close out crossing routes over the middle and disrupt passing lanes. Physical safety that isn’t afraid to hit.

In The Mix: Miami, Louisville, and West Virginia.

Latest: Balom is an intriguing prospect that has been slowly rising on Miami’s own board, and he finally got the offer after impressing at Paradise Camp. With things looking iffy with the other safeties in play right now, Balom has become a much more integral prospect to Miami’s recruiting efforts in the defensive backfield. Coach Banda and others on staff see Balom as a sleeper that is flying under the radar in South Florida, and really only Louisville and WVU are challenging the Canes here. If Balom gets the green light, which could happen soon, I expect him to jump on the opportunity to be a Hurricane, as he especially loves the academics UM has to offer. He is looking to make a decision sometime during the season and as soon as next month.

11. Kendall Dennis, CB, Lakeland, FL (Lakeland) (Last Month: 7)

Ht 6-0 | Wt 170 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #338 Overall

Evaluation: A speed demon whose explosion leaps off his film. Exceptional when breaking on the ball and is dangerous in the open field when returning a pick. Like a magnet for the football and is a ball hawk on the back end. Shows ability to shed blocks on the edge and contain the run. Demonstrates ability to be a weapon in the return game and as a gadget player on offense.

In The Mix: Auburn, Tennessee, UGA, FSU, and UF are involved for Dennis in addition to Miami.

Latest: In the past month, Auburn and Tennessee have continued to build momentum with Dennis, while it seems like traction with UM has stalled a little bit. He did attend Miami-UF last weekend, although he was in the UF section. Dennis told CIS he’d like to visit Miami again “soon”, but with no set plans, it’s hard to know if that will happen. With Miami so aggressively pursuing George and others at corner, Dennis is in danger of falling off the board, but we’re keeping him here for now.

12. Ladarius Tennison, S, Southwest Brevard County, FL (Rockledge) (Last Month: 6)

Ht 5-9 | Wt 195 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #225 Overall

Evaluation: Extremely productive on both sides of the ball, but is being recruited as a safety at UM. A devastating hitter and is not afraid to violently attack the ballcarrier. Despite being only 5’9”, he is extremely well-built at 195 and is a physical presence at the back end of a defense that will make a receiver think twice about coming across the middle. Well-equipped to be a star in run support inside the box, as he recognizes and diagnoses quickly, and doesn’t hesitate to explode through the line and make the stop. Excellent form tackler and also allows the QB’s eyes and pattern recognition to carry him around the field in coverage. Ideally, he’d be a little taller and is a bit undersized height-wise, but that shouldn’t hold him back much at the college level if he develops the rest of his game properly.

In The Mix: Auburn, Miami, and UNC.

Latest: With a plan to decide sometime next month, the choice is almost certainly going to be Auburn for Tennison. He visited AU just before the dead period and many believe the Tigers locked him up over that weekend. Tennison’s close relationship with coach Banda has UM hanging around, but it would be a surprise to see him pick anybody but Auburn at this point.

13. Marcus Dumervil, OT, Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 300 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #93 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 along with Miami, such as LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, USC, and others.

Latest: After a one-month hiatus, Dumervil makes his return to the board now that contact between him and Miami has picked up dramatically lately. However, I’m going to have to see Dumervil set up a visit to be convinced the interest is genuine on his side. Despite living not far from campus and UM having a host of offseason events for recruits, Dumervil hasn’t set foot on campus in 5 months. Furthermore, Dumervil’s sights have pretty clearly been set on going out of state, with schools like LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama, and USC having most of his attention, so it’s puzzling to see him start focusing on the home school again. Still, the Canes have to shoot their shot here at the biggest position of need on the team, and this is yet another recruitment Manny Diaz has personally involved himself in.

14. Donell Harris, DE, Miami, FL (Gulliver Prep) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 210 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #50 Overall

Evaluation: What I like about Harris is that his feet never stop moving, and that’s key for someone that’s undersized like he is right now. Rushes in with good lean and dips low to propel himself around the edge. He flashes disruptive qualities in gaps and seemingly always finds a window to knife his way into the backfield. Instead of getting washed out of running plays due to his low weight, Harris instead shows the ability to maintain integrity and contain, and is adequate at shedding blocks to make the play. Highly productive in high school and is a guy that lives to make big plays.

In The Mix: LSU, Texas A&M, UF, FSU, and Miami.

Latest: Why do they do this to me? Despite Harris’ every effort to resist Miami lately, the Canes have continued to pursue him and, through sheer luck, seem to be somewhat back in the game. After reclassifying to 2020 from the 2021 class in June, Harris listed out a top 5 of Alabama, Auburn, UGA, LSU, and Texas A&M. The problem? Harris only has official offers for 2020 to LSU and Texas A&M of that group. That has left room for the in-state schools to turn up the heat and Miami, UF, and FSU have done just that. Harris visited for Paradise Camp back in June, and was at the Miami-UF game last weekend. No, I ultimately don’t think Harris is coming here, because a source close to the recruitment feels the same, his actions appear like he will make every excuse not to come to Miami, and most see him as a lean to the Aggies right now. But there’s just enough noise here to see the thin possibility that Harris makes a “full-circle” type deal out of his recruitment and ends up right back where he started. At the very least, it’s worth monitoring.

15. Elias Ricks, CB, Bradenton, FL (IMG Academy) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 190 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #15 Overall

Evaluation: What stands out about Ricks when watching his film is that he’s basically an offensive player playing defense. He’s absolutely hazardous for any quarterback to throw on because he’s looking to take every throw back for six points, and his incredible instincts and ball skills afford him the ability to do just that. While he’s not a burner per se, he’s a fluid and athletic strider that has very good top speed. His height and lanky frame give him an advantage over most high school receivers and allow him to smother his opponent in 1-on-1 situations or in press coverage. Physical in run support and can be trusted to anchor the outside of a defense.

In The Mix: The LSU commit is still considering Alabama, Ohio State, USC, and Florida along with UM.

Latest: First off, I don’t see Miami flipping Ricks from LSU whatsoever, and the coaches are still doing their due diligence here to find out if his interest is legit or if he just wants a free trip to Miami. Still, Miami certainly has never given up on him, and their persistence paid off with Ricks trying to set up his last official to UM. To be honest, that’s farther than I even thought they’d get. He is already planning on seeing LSU, Alabama, Ohio State, and USC on officials this upcoming season. I know Miami is doing their best not to get played here, so if Ricks does end up showing up for a full official visit weekend, that means UM really does believe they have a shot for the flip, so look out for that. Until then, I’d say Alabama has the best shot at him if he were to flip from LSU. I'll admit, though, it does make things more interesting with Ricks now living in Florida instead of California.

Falling Off

4. OG Jonathan Denis: Committed to Oregon.

11. RB Jaylan Knighton: Committed to FSU.

13. TE Theo Johnson: Named a top 4 that did not include Miami.

Comments (45)

You don't think Dumervil has moved up their list, since Manny is taking a shot at personally recruiting him.. Walker appears to be one of those kids whose parents are looking for a payday...
Despite Harris’ every effort to resist Miami lately, the Canes have continued to pursue him and, through sheer luck, seem to be somewhat back in the game.

Is it really sheer luck? He's just not the same prospect at a 2020 guy as he was as a 2021 guy. Almost an instant redshirt for next year,
Stupid why put Harris on this list and why do the coaches continue to recruit him? Why isn’t Parrish on there either? He should be in over Dennis Ricks Dumervil Tennison and Harris. Walker ain’t coming either I’ve said this since day 1. Yes I’m an insider so sell me this ******* pen.
My Top 15

1. Walker
2. Dumervil
3. Flowe
4. Washington
5. Ricks
6. George
7. Tennison
8. Acker
9. Williams
10. Balom
11. Parrish
12. Baker
13. Worsham
14. Poitier
15. Simpson
Tennison, Walker, and Harris will be big misses IMO.

I really like Tennison he is truly a baller but he is a little short for a safety (5'9")... Walker is becoming the typical SFL drama queen. Harris and his dad are off the charts (nutz) and I'm not sure its worth dealing with. The kid wont even see the field until he is a sophomore as he is a bean pole.
Have to win a lot of ball games to finish strong with the recruiting.

Even if we were to get Flowe, I'd still take Hyppolite. His 40 time is really, really good at that size.

As fast as any LB Miami has had.

And we always need to have speed - across every position group.
Have to win a lot of ball games to finish strong with the recruiting.

Even if we were to get Flowe, I'd still take Hyppolite. His 40 time is really, really good at that size.

As fast as any LB Miami has had.

And we always need to have speed - across every position group.

40 times dont equal production people