Class Impact: Jalen Rivers to Miami

Stefan Adams

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2020 Oakleaf (FL) OL Jalen Rivers committed to the Hurricanes Sunday morning over Florida and Georgia.


The 6-6 330 pounder is currently a consensus 4-star recruit in the national rankings. According to the 247Sports Composite, Rivers is the #152 player nationally, #18 OT in the country, and the #21 player in the Sunshine State. His commitment raises Category20 to the #4 class ranking on 247Sports and #4 on Rivals.


The Player

Rivers has long been considered a top prospect in the 2020 class, as he began receiving big offers from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, UF, FSU, and Tennessee, in addition to Miami, after his freshman season at Oakleaf. After initially looking like a Miami-lean early on in the process, the Canes seemed to be on the outside looking in with Rivers for the early part of 2019. However, Rivers took a strong visit to UM in mid-April, and the staff really felt they made a move. The Canes were in the lead from then on, and other finalists Florida and Georgia couldn’t do enough to sway Rivers from UM. It’s new OL coach Butch Barry’s first huge win on the recruiting trail and he had a lot to do with bringing Miami back here.

Rivers plays left tackle for Oakleaf, but he is a likely right tackle or guard at the next level. Rivers has the length for tackle, but will need to trim off some bad weight and add more flexibility if he wants to stick on the outside full-time. At the Opening Orlando regional, he recorded a 5.09 in the shuttle, a 5.67 in the 40, and a vertical leap of 21 inches. Rivers displays his athleticism across multiple different sports, competing at football, basketball, track, and weightlifting at Oakleaf. This past spring, Rivers won a State Championship in the shot put as well. His intelligence is also an asset and he is well-known as one of the smartest people on the field with a 4.3 GPA.

On film, Rivers shows a solid wide-build and is 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, and demonstrates ability to pull, get out in front, and pave the way for his back. 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. Leans too much in the passing game and gets off balance; needs to refine his technique in that area. That will get him into trouble at the next level, but he will have plenty of time to tweak that part of his game, especially if he starts out on the interior.


The Class

Rivers’ commitment brings the total class numbers to 16 and he joins Vanguard (FL) 3-star Antonio Smith on the OL in 2020. The Canes would like at least 4 offensive linemen in this class, but could easily end up with 5 if they are the right fits.

Miami is still on the trail of a ton of offensive linemen, but we’ll start looking at the board with the guy that has been connected to Miami for the longest in St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) 4-star OT Marcus Dumervil. 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.

Next, we have Norland (FL) 4-star OT Issiah Walker. 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 to LSU sometime this month.

Other tackles high on Miami’s board are Mars Area (PA) 4-star OT Michael Carmody and Jesuit (FL) 4-star OT Connor McLaughlin. Carmody visited UM over the spring and is considering a return visit to Coral Gables on an official. He’s already scheduled two officials to Texas A&M and Ohio State. McLaughlin is a developmental lineman in the mold of what Butch Barry is looking for: long, lean, and athletic. After recently talking with McLaughlin, he said Miami is still in constant contact with him and that he would be making a visit "soon". He took his first official visit to Iowa this weekend.

Further down the board at tackle, guys like Fort Myers (FL) 3-star Cayden Baker and Heritage Academy (MS) 3-star Eli Acker are visiting for Paradise Camp in two weeks. Either could end up being takes if they impress the staff enough in-person.

At guard, Miami has pursued South Dade (FL) 4-star Jonathan Denis as a top target for over a year now. 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.

Elsewhere at guard, Cocoa (FL) 3-star Richie Leonard recently put Miami in his top 7, is planning an early July decision, and has set officials for Georgia Tech, Kentucky, and Tennessee. If Miami pushes harder, they could make themselves a contender down the stretch. UM wants an up-close look at Briarwood Christian (AL) 3-star Trent Howard to see if he can make himself a take at Paradise Camp; Howard is still unsure if he can make the trip.


The Team

Rivers is just one piece in an offensive line rebuild that will take a few seasons, but he is certainly a very important piece for Butch Barry. Rivers will likely start out at guard, but has a chance to kick out to tackle in a few years if some things work out just right. Predicting playing time for true freshmen on the offensive line is always dicey, but Rivers is going to be one of the top 2 or 3 most talented linemen on the roster from the moment he gets to UM. While Navaughn Donaldson is entrenched at left guard, right guard is wide open for the taking after none of Zalon’tae Hillery, John Campbell, or Cleveland Reed took full control of the job in spring. New JUCO transferee Ousman Traore will throw his hat into the competition when he arrives next month as well.

I’m sure Miami would prefer to redshirt Rivers and develop his body in the S&C program for a season, but similar to Zion Nelson, they will certainly put him in the rotation if he proves to be one of the top few linemen on the team. Donaldson will be gone by 2021, and Rivers has as good a chance as anyone to take his spot in the starting lineup.

 

#26-MEAST

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EE too, right? Big time get!
 

305to954

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We still need cats who can play LT. haven’t seen anything from Herbert or brown. But very nice pickup
 

Dwinstitles

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Love that Diaz is building OL and DL, its pretty much what Butch did and similar to what bama and Clemson have done. Make the qb and Rbs job easy start to field a respected team in consecutive years then let it recruit itself. At least hes not retarded like the other staffs we have had where the OL recruiting was horrendus or had some guys and jags mixed together. I like that they want to build a whole unit.
 

CaneDog66

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Building a cohesive, organized OL is the hallmark of building the team from the trenches out. Same with DL and we all know how much better the recruiting and play has immensely improved these past 3 seasons under Manolo’s tutelage. Here’s hoping he can help Coach Barry continue this most recent success story, and land some of the players on the fence currently like Denis or McLaughlin. We do that and we can continue to work our way to closing the talent and depth gaps we see today versus Clemson, Bama, tOSU, and Oklahoma.
 

Dwinstitles

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Building a cohesive, organized OL is the hallmark of building the team from the trenches out. Same with DL and we all know how much better the recruiting and play has immensely improved these past 3 seasons under Manolo’s tutelage. Here’s hoping he can help Coach Barry continue this most recent success story, and land some of the players on the fence currently like Denis or McLaughlin. We do that and we can continue to work our way to closing the talent and depth gaps we see today versus Clemson, Bama, tOSU, and Oklahoma.
U ild that OL and DL some guys that are weak skill wise look good regardless. Most of the time we dont even know who the fuq is on the Patriots teams but we know they protect Tom well and the back 7 do well and I dont know a player on that squad
 

TRick72

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Like everyone I would love to add either Dumervil and/or Walker to class. However, if we add Denis, Carmody and McLauglin to this class that would be next level Elite OL class. More likely scenario is Denis with 1 out of those 2 guys along with Baker, which I still consider an Elite OL class. Even if that doesn’t play out, I still think we are going to be very pleased with this OL class.

As @Cuban-Cane mentioned above, I LOVE what Barry is doing with recruiting. He knows what he is looking for and has identified multiple targets that fit his criteria. No more of this offering 5 guys for 4 spots and then scrambling later when those targets go elsewhere. If Barry’s vision unfolds as anticipated, we will quickly shrink the gap between us and the elites. Future is bright and It all starts today with the commitment of Rivers.
 

Sebastianspipe

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We still need cats who can play LT. haven’t seen anything from Herbert or brown. But very nice pickup
Herbert had a damn good spring and is coming off a major shoulder injury. The kid was starring from scratch in 2018 and wasn’t ready to play at all. Everyone so quick to write him off.
 

brock

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Herbert had a damn good spring and is coming off a major shoulder injury. The kid was starring from scratch in 2018 and wasn’t ready to play at all. Everyone so quick to write him off.
Exactly, I dont Get it. He made some noise in the spring. He’s a talented kid when healthy. Let’s see how he progresses
 
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