Diaz recaps early signing day, goes in-depth on 2021 signees

Diaz recaps early signing day, goes in-depth on 2021 signees

Stefan Adams
As early signing day came and went for another cycle of recruits, Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz began to tell the story about how this Top 10 class of 2021 came together.

“It’s fall 2017, we’re in the midst of a season, starting 10-0, top five in the country, and video was starting to surface of a very special freshman football player,” Diaz said. “At Pace, in walks a ninth grader. After watching film, seeing this young man, you realize this is a young man Miami has to sign. That day, wound up being his first offer, started a relationship with James Williams. That’s four years, the recruitment of James.

“And that goes for so many of the prospects on this list, whether it’s Leonard Taylor, Romello Brinson, Lawrence Seymore, who we offered at a youth camp between his eighth and ninth grade, Brashard Smith - the local recruits that in the past Miami was letting slip away. We’re so proud to be able to land the quality of player we did in this class.”

With 21 signees so far, the Canes have 3 spots left heading into the second signing period, and Diaz said Miami is still looking to finish off the class in the next few months.

“There are some players that aren’t signing, have become available,” Diaz said. “If there’s a midyear guy that can come in and help us, we may have some flexibility with that. And some that could come in February. We’ll assess that, we’ll have a better sense of that at the end of the week.”

Does Diaz ever get nervous waiting on signees to come in through the fax?

“It’s nerve-racking if a kid tells you he’s coming every day of his life and you’re waiting for a fax, screenshot on your phone,” Diaz said. “Until it comes in, you don’t ever feel the game is won.”

With the pandemic looming in the background, the challenge of recruiting was ratcheted up even more for Diaz and his staff, who had to get more creative without the benefits of visits and in-person evaluations.

“You had to do it through Zooms, FaceTime - what was normal in recruiting went out the window,” Diaz said. “There’s no doubt there will be some players in this class, not just South Florida, that will slip through the cracks. I think of a Brian Balom a year ago. They lost spring practice, camps, lost a normal sort of high school training camp and jamborees. You get better in this game by playing. Unfortunately, high school coaches were always doing more with less down here. It was difficult. Our guys, we felt we could watch our guys and make an evaluation, and what we thought before the senior year we still thought.”

With the majority of the class locked up before the season and every pledge being solid, there was a welcome lack off drama today when every commit signed as expected.

“This class had some drama way back when,” Diaz said. “But really since the summertime, it’s been as drama-free of a class as I can remember in my time at UM. How much of a role does COVID have in that? It’s hard to say. I give credit to our staff. And the kids.”

The Canes signed three wide receivers in the class to help bolster a position group that was inconsistent in 2020.

“We think they have the potential,” Diaz said of the WR’s. “You look at the NFL, college football, wide receivers can change games. What’s happened with the RPO game - adding a Romello Brinson who can blow the top off a coverage, a Brashard Smith who is not just a great player, but a game-winner, did everything for Palmetto High except for paint the field - he’s going to make a play somehow, some way that helps your team win, will make three or four guys miss. And Jacolby George, came to a 7-on-7 camp two years ago, feels like 20 years ago, you can’t cover him. His ball skills are exceptional. Rob Likens and Rhett Lashlee did a phenomenal job.”

Miami also secured Miami Palmetto DT Leonard Taylor, who many feel was the best player overall in South Florida this cycle.

“You have to be relentless, relentless in relationships,” Diaz said. “LT, we were his first offer, have known him and his mom for a long time. We stayed after him. As you got into the year, there were some positive (changes) in the program. It seemed in March there was one outcome, but here we are in December and it turned out to not be true.”

In Deshawn Troutman and Tyler Johnson, Miami added two linebackers with speed that fit more with the modern style of defense that requires players that can excel in space at the second level.

“Tyler can feature as a DE for us as well. That’s a unique skillset,” Diaz said. “Troutman - instincts, quick decision-making and a guy who doesn’t run to contact, runs through contact. Some guys it takes them a minute to figure out linebacker, not Troutman. He knows how to do it. And he’s a South Florida kid, kind of a coming home for Deshawn, same as Elijah Arroyo.”

Currently living in Frisco, TX, Arroyo made the decision to return to the South Florida area and pair with Miami Northwestern TE Kahlil Brantley to become part of the “Tight End U” legacy.

“Freaky talent. Watch the guy on film, it feels the guy scores four touchdowns every game,” Diaz said of Arroyo. “And I’m talking about downfield, line him up as X receiver, slot, breaking tackles and scoring long touchdowns… (Brantley has) great hands, great ball skills, can be utilized in so many different ways.”

At the corner position, UM only signed Malik Curtis, and Diaz mentioned that the team would still be searching for more CB’s to add onto the roster.

“We’ll certainly look to add two corners to our football team before the season next year,” Diaz said. “With Malik, we love the ones we have, feel Malik can add a dimension a little bit different. All you have to do is watch him on the field, his game-breaking speed. His return game, we were inconsistent (there) this year. You watch Malik return a kickoff or punt, he just chews up yards with his stride.”

As of now, Miami is expecting 15 of their signees to enroll in time for the spring semester.

“We’re hoping for double digits, we’re not for sure who, part of it is going through the admission process,” Diaz said.

Overall, Diaz described the 2021 class as a bunch of kids that just really wanted to be Hurricanes and be part of turning the program around.

“They love Miami,” Diaz said. “I bet 85 percent of them were committed before we played a game coming off 6-7 a year ago. They believe in what we’re doing, believe in this place, and are really, really talented. They want to come in, go right to work. As a coaching staff, we can’t wait to get them in here.”

What does he see as the goal for the 2021 class coming in?

“To get Miami back on top,” Diaz said.

Diaz was also asked if he believes recruiting at Miami will become even more local as a result of restricted travel and no official visits due to COVID issues.

“Our philosophy was set before the pandemic ever hit. Everyone knew the 2021 class was going to be special in South Florida,” Diaz said. “Because of everybody on this staff’s effort, we got a lot more than we usually got. Full stop, that is our recruiting formula: We always want to win Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County first. We just have not always won that. We will always begin here, push out to I-4, to the rest of the state and nationally if it’s the right fit.

“This 2021 class was unique because they have still been places, have been around us, on campus, we had a chance to evaluate them in person. The 2022, 2023 kids don’t have that advantage. We do need to get back to normal.”

Miami has taken 13 transfers over the last two years, something Diaz said was done to address specific needs immediately.

“There were some things we were just addressing through the portal, things we were trying to get fixed right away,” Diaz said. “We are entering a very unusual world as a one-time transfer comes in. I don’t know if anybody in the sport knows what roster management is going to look like this spring. There are no initial scholarships to give out, the entire country is locked into 25 scholarships a year and there are probably more players in the portal then there are spots.”
 

Comments (8)

Now let's see if Manolo can do something with this talent.
 
People can say whatever about Richt as our HC, but he was the man who developed the plan to get on local kids earlier. This class reaps those benefits.
Yes and no. Respectfully, CMR did a good job locally. Manny is on another level. He’s used those foundational pieces like David on a completely different level. Without Richt, this isn’t happening the way it is locally. If he’s still the head coach, it isn’t happening the way it is. Perfect storm🌪
Manny, David, Fields, Banda and DVD truly going old school and building that fence.
 
People can say whatever about Richt as our HC, but he was the man who developed the plan to get on local kids earlier. This class reaps those benefits.
Said this years ago. Richt's Pop Warner-Little Yankee strategy is critical to retaining local talent. Incredibly difficult to do though without program continuity and "win right now" thought processes.

Now, Miami coaches need to start an OL Academy of excellence for the same age group. No reason SoFL can't produce quality D1P5 big boys in bunches year after year--and oir Canes need to get them.
 
Sucks that Manny put himself in a position where he cant even really enjoy this class as much as you know he wants because everyone is still pissed at his a$$ about the UNC game. This is one of those classes where you open a bottle of champagne and toast it up with the coaching staff. Smh. Damn shame.
 
Said this years ago. Richt's Pop Warner-Little Yankee strategy is critical to retaining local talent. Incredibly difficult to do though without program continuity and "win right now" thought processes.

Now, Miami coaches need to start an OL Academy of excellence for the same age group. No reason SoFL can't produce quality D1P5 big boys in bunches year after year--and oir Canes need to get them.
Actually what Miami needs is to create an on campus school like LSU has. Identify promising kids early, convince parents that the Miami school is a better learning opportunity, and basically enroll kids starting in their early teens. That would be a legit win/win.
 
Actually what Miami needs is to create an on campus school like LSU has. Identify promising kids early, convince parents that the Miami school is a better learning opportunity, and basically enroll kids starting in their early teens. That would be a legit win/win.
Absolutely. Go full on European Soccer Club model.

I Love it.
 
Actually what Miami needs is to create an on campus school like LSU has. Identify promising kids early, convince parents that the Miami school is a better learning opportunity, and basically enroll kids starting in their early teens. That would be a legit win/win.

we already have coral gables high school and gulliver very close to campus. We should use those hs’s the way you’re saying I agree.
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
265
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
WR
5'9"
190
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
STR
6'3"
190
Melbourne, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

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