In what was a long-time coming, 3-star Miami Southridge LB/DB Diamante Howard announced his decommitment from Miami and Surge19 last weekend.
The 6-2, 178-pounder is currently a consensus 3-star in the national rankings. According to the 247Composite, Howard is the #593 player nationally, #42 OLB in the country, and the #85 player in The Sunshine State. His decommitment drops Miami’s previous #1 2019 class on 247Sports to #2, but Miami maintains their #2 class on Rivals.
As previously noted, Howard is a 3-star player currently, but what's more notable is that he was regarded as an early 5-star talent by 247Sports back in their first rankings of the class. It was that potential that had Miami take the local product's commitment at linebacker back in September of 2016, his sophomore year, and he was the second commitment in the 2019 class for the Canes. The issue with Howard was always his underdeveloped body type for a linebacker and he has unfortunately become a cautionary tale that should dissuade coaches from trying to project talent out too far in advance and taking a commitment too early.
Howard never fully developed his frame, and is still in the 175 pound range that he was back when he committed a year and a half ago. His star has slowly dimmed the past 2 years to the point he is now switching positions and trying to make it as a safety. Howard has become a man without a position: he is a step too slow to be a top-level Power 5 talent at safety and doesn't have anywhere near the size of a college linebacker. As such, the coaches have backed off him more and more recently; he hadn't heard from coaches in months when he finally decommitted last week.
It's sad to say as a local kid that was one of the first commits in this class, but we all saw this coming from a mile away and this is really for the best for both parties, similar to last year's Artur Sitkowski situation. Now, Howard can join a Rutgers-type, lower-level Power 5 program that will appreciate his skills more and also give him a legitimate chance to play at the next level, while the Canes can continue to focus their efforts on getting linebackers that are truly of Miami caliber.
Future of the Class
Howard's decommitment brings the total class numbers down to 11, and the Canes still have two LB's committed. Mount Dora 3-star Jesiah Pierrecan play both inside and outside linebacker and he is complemented by a pass-rushing specialist, Miami Northwestern 3-star Samuel Brooks, a pure OLB all the way. The Canes were light on LB in the 2018 class, taking only Patrick Joyner. Next year, Miami loses Mike Smith, Charles Perry, and Terry McCray to graduation, while the possibility exists that Shaq Quarterman or Michael Pinckney could leave early for the NFL. Couple that with the fact that the 2019 crop of talent at the LB position is also extremely deep and we’re expecting the Canes to go hard after at least 4 LB’s; there is a chance they could even take 5.
With two spots left and a possible third as well, it feels like the staff’s top remaining target at LB is 4-star St. Thomas Aquinas standout Anthony Solomon, and sources close to the situation continue to feel very strong about the chances he ends up with Miami after his great Junior Day visit last weekend. If Solomon, who like Brooks is on the smaller side and a no doubt outside linebacker, commits soon, Miami will likely look to take a bigger, inside linebacker-type to fill out the class. At that point, I believe Solomon's STA teammate, 4-star Avery Huff, would become the next top target at LB, with Wekiva 3-star Rian Davis and Norland 3-star Darius Williams farther down the priority list.
STA 3-star Jahmar Brown, Deerfield Beach 4-star Ge’mon Eaford, and Grayson (GA) 4-star Kevin Harris are other candidates for Surge19, but, as outside linebackers, may get squeezed out numbers-wise. Another wildcard to keep in mind is Chaminade-Madonna 4-star LB/S Keontra Smith, who I believe is being targeted for a Derrick Smith type role in this defense. Smith, a Kentucky commit, is looking like a heavy bet to flip to Miami at some point soon. How the staff views Smith and his potential role could effect the number of takes at LB this cycle.
Well, Finley and Derrick Smith are working at LB, so that gap is being filled. That's if any of the trio leaves early. Richt has a plan... 4 is the max we take at LB. The guys coming up behind the 3 starters are gonna be stars for us... Jennings, Steed and Wilder! Now add Finley, D. Smith, Joyner and the 4 freshmen. We will be fine!