Welcome to the second 2019 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 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
Miami's need at their position
From last month’s board, #13 Anthony Solomon pulled the trigger and committed to “The U”. That was a great pull by the Canes, considering Michigan was his public leader just a few months back.
Behind The Ranking: Neal is the prototypical top player on this board, thanks to his combination of talent, Miami’s need on the line, and the fact that he has family ties to the program. At 6’7” 375 pounds, I just call him “The Wall”. Neal has gone up against numerous top defensive linemen at various events and they were all hopelessly outmatched against him.
In The Mix: Miami, FSU, Oklahoma, and Georgia are some schools chasing Neal hard.
Latest: Neal took an unofficial visit to Miami for Junior Day last month and furthered his bond with the coaches. He also took a visit to UF the very next week with the rest of his IMG team. Neal is the nephew of Miami great Cleveland Gary, was a born Hurricane, and has visited UM multiple times in the past year. He seems like a Miami lean right now, and our sources continue to feel strong on him ending up at Miami, despite him wanting to do his due diligence and take a lot of visits. While another team could always make a big push in the coming months, if he had to sign today, Miami would be the choice.
Behind The Ranking: Point blank, QB is the most important position in every class and the coaches have identified Johnson Jr. as their top target at gun-slinger. A true dual-threat, Johnson Jr. is electric on the ground by any usage of the word and can leave defenders in the dust. Through the air, he possesses a live arm that can make any throw on the field.
In The Mix: Johnson Jr. hears from Miami, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, FSU, Alabama, and LSU the most.
Latest: Jon Richt flew across the country to visit Johnson Jr. back in December, and Johnson Jr. returned the favor two weeks ago, flying to Coral Gables for a two day, mid-week visit. Johnson Jr. raved about the visit to CIS and also gave us a timetable for a commitment, saying he is shooting for June. He stopped in to visit both Ole Miss and Alabama for spring trips as well, but interestingly enough, each school received commitments from other 4-star QB’s in the past week. It’s looking more and more like this will boil down to Oregon-Miami as expected. Yes, his father coaches for Oregon. And yes, they should still be viewed as the favorite. But keep in mind he has plenty of family in the Miami area as well.
Behind The Ranking: Running back, safety, receiver, don’t matter. The book on Richards is simple: get him on the roster, figure out his position later. His speed and football instincts will play anywhere, and he loves offense, but Richards looks like an impact safety to me.
In The Mix: Florida and Miami seem like an unofficial top 2 for Richards at the moment. Alabama, Penn State, and Auburn are pushing.
Latest: Many believe that since he is Ahmmon’s brother, that means Mark-Antony is a Hurricanes lock. While I wouldn’t go that far, his level of interest in UM cannot be denied. He's visited UM’s campus twice in the past two weeks, popping up both at Underclassman Day and for a spring practice. As Richards recently told CIS, the Canes see his greatest potential on defense, but will take him at any position and just want him to be a part of the program, so I don’t see positional concerns being much of a factor. Richards is going to Florida this weekend for their spring game.
4. Khris Bogle, DE, Fort Lauderdale, FL (Cardinal Gibbons) (Last: 2)
Behind The Ranking: Bogle makes his living in the opponent’s backfield and it’s tough for offensive linemen to square up on him with his speed off the edge. The high need for D-Linemen and his extremely high Miami interest gets him a plush spot on the board.
In The Mix: Here I go - Miami, FSU, Florida, Clemson, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Oregon, USC, Oklahoma, Penn State, Ohio State, Texas A&M, and Georgia (whew) make up Bogle’s Final Four…teen.
Latest: Last month, it seemed Bogle was simply biding his time and was on the verge of making an early commitment to Miami. Now? If his “top 14” release is any indication, it looks like he’s going to play the game and draw the process out a bit. It’s not ideal and this is going to be a battle, especially with family in Tallahassee, but at least in Miami’s favor is that his mother apparently wants him at Miami. Winning over mom is half the battle in recruiting.
Behind The Ranking: The first thing that stands out about Ladson is his size. But it’s how well he moves with that 6’5” frame that really makes him elite. Ladson has the frame to high-point a ball and flat out go get it, making him an instant red-zone threat for any program. WR is probably the most stocked position on the team right now, pushing Ladson down the board a bit.
In The Mix: Ladson’s clear top 2 are Miami and Clemson, with Georgia, Auburn, FSU, and Florida on the outside looking in.
Latest: Ladson has built a deep connection with WR coach Ron Dugans and his high school coach told CIS he brings up Dugans in conversation a lot. Ladson’s added two more visits to his Miami total this spring, visiting UM for Junior Day and a spring practice. He's seen Gainesville and Tallahassee as well recently. Following the visit trail here, you’d think the Canes are in a good spot, but Ladson is reportedly enamored with the recent receiver talent Clemson has put into the NFL. Dabo Swinney and his staff are really going all out here and the Tigers will be a serious player for Ladson until the very end. However, thanks to Dugans, sources are telling CIS that Miami is trending up with Ladson.
Behind The Ranking: Stevenson just smothers receivers in the passing game and has that rare ability to take half the field away from an opposing offense. The Miami Southridge star runs well for his size and features elite closing speed, while also showing potential as a rangy safety prospect.
In The Mix: Miami, Alabama, Clemson, FSU, Georgia and others are all fighting for Stevenson’s signature.
Latest: Stevenson’s kind of been all over the board lately, visiting Miami, FSU, Florida, South Carolina, and Clemson all in the past month. At least he’s visited the Canes twice in that stretch, including for Junior Day, and he’s probably been on campus the most out of anyone on this list, aside from maybe Ladson. Stevenson recently made the transfer to Miami Southridge, which could effect the “package deal” of him and Ladson to the same school, but for now he says they’re still planning on playing together at the next level. There is also a possibility we’ll see Stevenson at the UM spring game this weekend. It feels like the Canes are trending up here, but, with no commitment date in sight, this will be a fight all the way to the end for Stevenson.
Behind The Ranking: A pure left tackle prospect, Wright is an advanced run-blocker and has the frame and athleticism to excel in pass protection with more development.
In The Mix: Ohio State is an early leader over Miami, Alabama, Tennessee, UNC, and Virginia Tech.
Latest: Both Mark Richt and Todd Hartley took a trip to Huntington to visit with Wright back in January when 2018 recruiting was still going on, showing just how badly UM wants Wright in this class. Wright is another guy who has been making his visit rounds, heading to UNC and Tennessee this past month, with an Alabama trip on tap next week. Wright falls a bit because it’s hard to put him over some others that have visited more frequently when he hasn’t been on campus at all, but keep in mind Hartley used to coach at Marshall and has tons of West Virginia area recruiting connections.
This is probably what 1-7 on our board looks like tbh (in no particular order). With St. Louis leaving next year and our situation at RT, Neal/Wright need to be top of our board. Hopefully we can continue to get these guys on campus.