2020 Freshman 15: June Edition

2020 Freshman 15: June Edition

Stefan Adams
Previous: April, May

Welcome to the third 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.

From last month's board, the Canes did not receive any commitments, but have moved into more favorable positions for some of their top targets. About a third of the way through the cycle, UM is holding steady with a top 5 class in 2020, and would love to continue to stack top-tier talent to keep it that way.

Let’s get into the board for June.

1. Jalen Rivers, OT, Orange Park, FL (Oakleaf) (Last Month: 1)

Ht 6-6 | Wt 330 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #147 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 3 includes Miami, UGA, and Florida.

Latest: I’ll keep it short and simple: The buzz around Rivers to Miami is legit, and I heard some good news regarding Rivers and Miami over the weekend, which is why I finally put a Miami pick in for the big lineman on Saturday. I’m very confident on it and it would be a shock if Rivers chose Georgia or Florida on Sunday, his other finalists.

2. Keshawn Lawrence, CB, Nashville, TN (Ensworth) (Last Month: 5)

Ht 6-1 | Wt 190 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #71 Overall

Evaluation: Great frame with long arms, and fits the mold that Mike Rumph is looking for in that regard. Uses his length aggressively both in jamming receivers and getting off blocks. Good tackler in run support and not afraid to stick his nose in the mix and make a hit. Outstanding athlete that also plays running back full-time in high school and shows impressive vision that could be useful in returning interceptions, kickoffs, or punts. Solid, not great, speed, but is a long strider that accelerates well and shows good recovery speed in coverage.

In The Mix: Along with Miami, South Carolina, Ole Miss, LSU, and Tennessee are high up for Lawrence.

Latest: The Canes get Lawrence on a return visit this month, as he’ll take his second official visit of the process to Miami on June 21st weekend (his first was to LSU). As in many out of state battles, the official visit will tell the story here and we’ll know much more about how serious he is about Miami coming out of the weekend. Still, the staff is confident heading into the visit that they can convince him to leave the state, as the program that’s gained momentum here in the past month is Tennessee.

3. Jaylan Knighton, RB, Deerfield Beach, FL (Deerfield Beach) (Last Month: 7)

Ht 5-9 | Wt 185 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #101 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 narrowed down a top 6 of Miami, FSU, Clemson, OU, Ohio State, and LSU.

Latest: An interesting note I’ve heard here is that UM’s confidence is growing with Knighton. So much so, I’m told that they’ve basically shut off contact with Plan B guys Caziah Holmes and Henry Parrish. So the Canes are risking it all on Knighton, but I know FSU is confident here as well. Ohio State is beginning to make a move too, and Knighton scheduled an official visit to Columbus on June 21st weekend. Will the Canes’ gamble pay off here? Tough to say as of now, and this recruitment needs more time to play out ahead of his August decision timeframe.

4. Jaylen Harrell, DE, Tampa, FL (Berkeley Prep) (Last Month: 13)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 235 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #218 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: Miami, UF, FSU, Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State are top contenders for Harrell.

Latest: Not much has changed with Harrell in the past month, although he does look to be the new top target at defensive end with Chantz Williams off the board. A very quiet kid that doesn’t do many interviews, Harrell is a prospect that shies away from the spotlight of the recruiting process and is hard to get a read on. The Berkeley Prep star also didn’t make many trips this spring, staying within the state and seeing only Miami and FSU. He also visited Clemson in February, but as with many other prospects the Tigers are involved with, Harrell’s spot in the class is in limbo right now. I don’t see him as a take for the Tigers at this point. I see Harrell taking his visits and then ultimately deciding to stay in-state and choosing between Miami, FSU, and UF.

5. Justin Flowe, LB, Upland, CA (Upland) (Last Week: 8)

Ht 6-2 | Wt 225 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #3 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: Florida, Georgia, Texas, OU, USC, Ohio State, Clemson, Oregon, Alabama, Arizona State, LSU, and Miami make up Flowe’s top 12.

Latest: Miami continues to push hard for Flowe and he is far and away the top priority at a huge position of need right now. Miami made his top 12 list in April, and, even better, the Canes were able to score a visit from Flowe during the spring. Flowe has stated his intent to return to Miami for an official visit, a huge win for the Canes. While it’s going to be a long fight against some of the top programs in the country to eventually land someone as talented as Flowe, the Canes are certainly in a decent spot right now and are really selling a thin depth chart and immediate playing time to the Upland star. I think that’s resonating and is what has Miami in the mix here.

6. Marcus Dumervil, OT, Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas) (Last Month: 3)

Ht 6-5 | Wt 300 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #124 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, Tennessee, UGA, Auburn and others.

Latest: I’m much less confident on Miami landing Dumervil than I was at the beginning of the cycle and that’s just reading between the lines. He doesn’t mention Miami in interviews that much, if at all, anymore and much of his interest is currently being directed at out of state schools. He is in the process of setting up a visit to Tennessee for next week, but Miami really needs to get him back on campus for Paradise Camp to get some momentum back. Still, until he explicitly eliminates Miami, he’ll have a spot somewhere on this board as an elite local prospect at a huge position of need.

7. Issiah Walker, OT, Miami, FL (Norland) (Last Month: 9)

Ht 6-4 | Wt 285 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #144 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, Florida, LSU, and UCF along with UM.

Latest: Slight controversy erupted with Walker last week when he released a top 11 schools that did not include Miami, only to claim minutes later that it was an error and that UM was actually in his top 5. The top 11 was later deleted. Read as much or as little into that as you’d like, but the fact remains that Walker is a huge priority for this staff and they sent multiple coaches to his spring game last month. He is also coming off a recent official visit to South Carolina that went very well, and at the least bought the Gamecocks more time to hang onto Walker’s commitment. He wants his second official visit to be with LSU sometime this month.

8. Jonathan Denis, OG, Homestead, FL (South Dade) (Last Month: 12)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 280 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #379 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, LSU, Kentucky, Louisville, Oregon, Indiana, and Mississippi State make up his top 8.

Latest: Denis recently released his top 8, and the Canes predictably made the cut. Miami has continued to show Denis that he is a priority in this class, and sent Butch Barry to watch him practice last month. After three of his close friends and teammates jumped on board with the Hurricanes and after making countless visits to UM, Denis has long been pegged as Miami’s next commitment, but he wants to play out the process a bit more and take some officials so he can be 100% sure of his decision. He made his first OV of the cycle to Louisville last weekend, and wants to take officials to LSU and Mississippi State this summer as well. Miami still remains in the pole position for Denis as he readies for a decision by the end of the summer.

9. Elijah Roberts, DE/DT, Miami, FL (Columbus) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 265 | 247 Composite: 3-Star, #376 Overall

Evaluation: Despite many pegging him for an eventual move to defensive tackle, Roberts continues to show enough speed to stick on the edge at end. Roberts’ rip and swim move is very polished and he looks extremely strong in his bull-rush, which has been his calling card since I first saw him and he has very impressive pure strength at the point of attack. Still, he is able to go around offensive linemen at times, brandishing quick feet and change of direction.

In The Mix: Roberts has a top 5 of Miami, FSU, UF, South Carolina, and Georgia Tech.

Latest: As a former commitment, Roberts is obviously not a new name to most Miami fans, but he makes his debut on the board this month as his importance to the class is much more significant after missing on fellow DL targets Chantz Williams and Jalen Carter. The Canes have been regarded as one of Roberts’ favorite programs for over a year now, so it was no surprise when he included UM in his top 5 schools released 2 days ago. A big part of why Miami is so high up in Roberts’ picture is because the Canes have made sure he feels wanted by the coaching staff; position coach Todd Stroud talks to him every day and area recruiter Ephraim Banda has been visiting his school for spring practices throughout the past month. Head coach Manny Diaz even gives Roberts some personal attention as well, so it’s clear he is being prioritized by the staff. He will take his first official visit to South Carolina the weekend of June 14th, while he will make unofficial trips to be at Florida on July 26th and is hitting Florida State the next day for an event on July 27th. I see this ultimately coming down to an in-state, Big 3 battle between Miami, FSU, and UF, and I continue to like my Miami pick I previously made here until further notice.

10. Darnell Washington, TE, Las Vegas, NV (Desert Pines) (Last Month: 11)

Ht 6-8 | Wt 250 | 247 Composite: 5-Star, #11 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 12 of Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Michigan, Oregon, Florida, FSU, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, and Penn State in addition to Miami.

Latest: The Canes made the first cut for Washington, who whittled his list to 12 schools last week. He’s literally been all over the map with the process: Washington made a huge visit tour this spring, and that has continued this summer, as he recently saw FSU, made his third trip to Auburn, and wants to make even more visits to schools not even on his top list like Ohio State and Texas. Safe to say Washington is very open right now. He’s tentatively penciling in Miami as one of his official visits, but has no date set as of now, and that could just as easily end up going to another program. The Canes have to keep on him and a big help here has been the Bishop Gorman/Vegas trio at UM, who are working Washington and trying to make him feel welcome at Miami. The Canes have their foot in the door here, but getting Washington back on campus for an official is a must if they want to hang around.

11. Trenton Simpson, LB, Charlotte, NC (Mallard Creek) (Last Month: 14)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 220 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #53 Overall

Evaluation: Simpson is a player that has shot up the rankings since deciding to focus more on the LB position, going from a 3-star RB to a 4-star LB within the national top 100. As such, has a high learning curve and continues to show rapid development as a high-impact linebacker. Well put together and is perfectly built for the position. Quick-twitch athlete with big burst to close and shortens gaps quickly. A bullet with a vengeance shooting into the backfield. Still learning to take on blocks and play with better efficiency.

In The Mix: Top 5 includes Miami, UNC, Tennessee, Auburn, and UGA.

Latest: The Canes just landed in Simpson’s top 5 last month, and he is working on locking in an official to Coral Gables. Outside of that, not much is really known about Simpson and Miami’s relationship, as it is so new. He’s unofficially visited the rest of his top 5 besides the Hurricanes, so his official visit will really give a better indication of just how UM stacks up to the competition. He took his first official of the process to Auburn last weekend and the Tigers feel they made a move, while he has Tennessee and Georgia OV’s scheduled for the upcoming two weekends. A fast-rising talent at a big position of need, it won’t hurt for the Canes to shoot their shot here. Teammate and fellow Miami target DE Quentin Williams is also a factor as here as well, and he suggested Miami for Simpson’s 5th official visit after enjoying his unofficial visit to UM himself, so that is something that could play in Miami’s favor down the line with Simpson if they land Williams.

12. Avantae Williams, S, Deland, FL (Deland) (Last Month: 10)

Ht 5-11 | Wt 170 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #45 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: With each passing month, the less likely it feels like Williams is destined to end up at Miami. The Canes are still pushing though, as they sent Banda to watch his spring game last month. I’m still hearing Florida and UGA both have a better shot at the flip, but right now I see Williams sticking with Oregon until proven otherwise. There’s certainly a push to get Williams to Paradise Camp, and that would be a shot in the arm to UM’s chances if it came through.

13. Ethan Pouncey, CB, Winter Park, FL (Winter Park) (Last Month: 15)

Ht 6-1 | Wt 160 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #239 Overall

Evaluation: Incredible reaction time when breaking on the ball. That type of anticipation has helped him become an interception machine, and his natural ball skills don’t hurt either. A long strider that has great acceleration and his top speed is better than most. Long arms helps him pester receivers all over the field. Not just a height-length-speed corner, but also proves adept at run support and is physical both in getting off blocks and making hits. Needs to add more weight, but his potential is very high.

In The Mix: Florida, UGA, Auburn, and Texas are involved with Pouncey aside from Miami.

Latest: Pouncey was offered by UM in early February, but didn’t seem to be showing much interest in the Canes. That changed in April when he surprisingly showed up at Miami’s spring game in Orlando. As a result, Miami has put themselves in the thick of this recruitment. Pouncey visited Florida, UGA, Auburn, and Texas this spring in addition to UM. The momentum seems to be with Auburn right now, but Pouncey is in no rush to make a decision and the Canes still have time to make up ground.

14. Kendall Dennis, CB, Lakeland, FL (Kathleen) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-0 | Wt 170 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #324 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, FSU, and UF are involved for Dennis in addition to Miami.

Latest: A guy that has been rising on the board for a while now is certainly Dennis, who also just received his 4th star in the rankings. Dennis was an unknown quantity with zero offers until he posted a 4.4 laser timed 40 at the Opening Orlando in February. Since then, he has received 16 offers, most of which are of the Power 5 variety. Dennis visited Miami twice this spring, most recently for the spring game in Orlando. He has also visited FSU, Tennessee, and Auburn this spring. He is pretty open right now and wants to take his time with his recruitment, so Miami needs to continue to build this relationship.

15. Darin Turner, WR, Memphis, TN (Memphis Central) (Last Month: NR)

Ht 6-3 | Wt 205 | 247 Composite: 4-Star, #95 Overall

Evaluation: Big-bodied receiver that is an expert in high-pointing the ball and making DB’s look silly. Has enough speed for his size, and a 4.18 shuttle time shows how impressive he can be in his short area quickness with his build. Demonstrates spectacular hands and concentration to make difficult catches look easy. The master of the go-route also shows versatility in being able to line-up in the backfield and make plays out of the wildcat in high school.

In The Mix: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Oregon, and Arkansas made Turner’s top 6 along with UM.

Latest: There could be a number of receivers realistically in this spot, but UM’s WR board has been very fluid this cycle; just when you think you’ve figured it out, something changes or they offer someone new. So I’ll go with a guy that is highly ranked, has already made a visit, and has the size to play on the outside in Turner. Turner visited the Canes this spring and Miami was very confident in where they stood with him afterwards. WR coach Taylor Stubblefield has kept in constant contact since, however, getting Turner back for an official visit will be key in determining just how realistic an option he is. As Miami is now in his top 6 released this week, the Canes are very likely to be able to do just that. Within his top 6 group, Turner is very open right now. He also saw Alabama and Arkansas this spring.

Falling Off

2. Chantz Williams, DE
: Had already eliminated UM by announcing a top 3 of UF, UGA, and LSU, but I've been hearing some rumblings here of LSU being the pick for the past week or so. I put in a prediction for the Tigers yesterday.

4. Mookie Cooper, WR: Lost his Miami CB’s, hasn’t visited yet, and I also know Miami would prefer a bigger outside receiver to finish up the class after getting a commit from Xavier Restrepo. Add it all up, and that’s how a talented player such as Cooper gets left off after putting Miami in his top 5, but a recruit of his caliber could definitely make his way back to the board in the future.

6. Jalen Carter, DT: Committed to UGA.

Comments (165)

Kind of depressing that only 1 of those is likely UM bound.

I’m now convinced that until we start winning big or paying big we are destined to watch all the elite South Florida talent go elsewhere. It’s becoming a huge deal when we actually get one to stay home.
I’m expecting Manny’s first class to end up around the 15 range in rankings. It’s the same thing I said when Richt was here, if we can consistently land top 15 class year over year we can win the coastal and have a shot at Clemson. Miami will never ever be the school who lands top 5 classes every year because of the divas in south Florida along with the NCAA always snooping around. Top 15 class puts you in contention to make the playoffs with the right coaching staff.
This OL class could instantly make us contenders again all by itself. Of course, at this point, it would take a miracle to land our top 4 targets in Rivers, Walker, Dummervill, and Dennis. Could you imagine if we landed all 4?
From this list, the staff still needs to do better at prioritizing prospects and getting positive vibes. For example Walker is playing around, but we are not pushing for McLaughlin who I think we have a better chance at getting. Keep Walker in the fold but I think the vibe with McLaughlin is better rn.
I’m expecting Manny’s first class to end up around the 15 range in rankings. It’s the same thing I said when Richt was here, if we can consistently land top 15 class year over year we can win the coastal and have a shot at Clemson. Miami will never ever be the school who lands top 5 classes every year because of the divas in south Florida along with the NCAA always snooping around. Top 15 class puts you in contention to make the playoffs with the right coaching staff.
If we win 10 or more I fully expect us to have a Top 5 - 8 class. Winning 9 games and getting a Top 15 class would be okay but if we win 10+ and do that, that's a sign that this staff can't recruit and changes needs to be made. This is Manny's honeymoon class.
Great write up Stefan. Obviously the Rivers news stands out and that is awesome to hear. Jaylen Harrell's recruitment feels like Garvin's/Harvey's. A quiet kid who doesn't seek the attention but has a great offer list and just cares about football. Would be an awesome pull.
From this list, the staff still needs to do better at prioritizing prospects and getting positive vibes. For example Walker is playing around, but we are not pushing for McLaughlin who I think we have a better chance at getting. Keep Walker in the fold but I think the vibe with McLaughlin is better rn.

Are you basing the idea that we’re not pushing for McLaughlin on anything outside this thread?

Hope that’s not the case
This OL class could instantly make us contenders again all by itself. Of course, at this point, it would take a miracle to land our top 4 targets in Rivers, Walker, Dummervill, and Dennis. Could you imagine if we landed all 4?

I could but I would need new underpants after.

The Dumervil ship I think has sailed to SEC country but with a good season I think we can get Walker.

C- Smith
G- Denis
G/T- Rivers

And then close with 2 true tackles and that’s a pretty **** good haul especially if Walker is one of the tackles.