Although the University of Miami football team missed out on several big-name recruits at the end of the Class of 2014 recruiting cycle, the Hurricanes are well on their way to contending for a top-10 recruiting class for the second year in a row.
UM hosted several of South Florida’s best Class of 2015 football recruits on campus for unofficial visits Wednesday, culminating with a chance to watch the men’s basketball team beat Notre Dame at BankUnited Center.
The Hurricanes coaching staff landed two verbal commitments from the day’s work in Miramar offensive guard Leeward Brown (6-4, 338) and Bradenton Manatee defensive tackle Ryan Fines (6-3, 300) — both rated as three-star recruits by several media outlets but big bodies nonetheless. Fines and Brown became the fourth and fifth 2015 commitments for UM, respectively, joining Royal Palm Beach athlete Charles Perry, Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep offensive tackle Kevin Feder and Pembroke Pines receiver Emonee Spence.
“It’s home,” Brown said Friday, citing UM’s family atmosphere as one of the main reasons he chose to commit to the school. “You can’t go away from home.”
With spring practices set to begin in March ahead of UM’s spring game on April 12, the Canes will have plenty of opportunities to have many other prospects, including those living in South Florida, visit the campus and get a feel of what it would be like playing close to home.
According to 247Sports, the Hurricanes coaching staff already has more than 150 offers and counting on 2015 recruits, with 26 offers to players in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. In comparison to other schools across the country: Florida State has offered 140 players, Auburn 116, Florida 135, Alabama 131, Tennessee 189, Ole Miss 152, Notre Dame 99, USC 65 and Oregon 33 — just to name a few. UM issued 248 offers in the last recruiting cycle, with 32 to players in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Miami’s motive during the last recruiting cycle was focused on getting players to commit early, having them visit unofficially during the season and taking their official visits during the last month of the cycle to keep them on board and help persuade other players to visit.
Plantation American Heritage quarterback Torrance Gibson, rated a five-star prospect by several media outlets and considered the most coveted player in South Florida, has been recruited by coach Al Golden since he took the UM job in December 2010 when Gibson was in the eighth grade.
Gibson, who holds offers from more than 20 schools, visited Wednesday and enjoyed his conversations with Golden and offensive coordinator James Coley. He has no plans of announcing a final decision in the near future but will announce a top-15 list “soon.”
“[We talked about] committing and just bringing a national championship home to Miami, and just talking,” Gibson said. “I could see myself doing that.”
Devonaire Clarington, a 6-6, 222-pound tight end now enrolled at Hialeah Champagnat Catholic, said UM has always felt like “home” to him.
“It’s right down the street,” said Clarington, who also visited UM on Wednesday. “Every time I go I think about it. Like, do I want to leave my family and leave everything down here? Leave my mom, dad, granddad, stepmom, grandma — everything.”
Clarington, who played at Westminster Christian last season, said he plans on making his final decision while participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January. In the meantime, he hopes to visit Alabama, Florida, Texas and Ole Miss, among other schools.
Miramar cornerback and FSU commit Tyrek Cole jokes with Brown at school about playing at UM together. Cole said Golden preaches about UM’s swag and how “I can bring the swag back to the ‘U.’ ”
Westminster Christian running back Jordan Cronkrite and athlete Tim Irvin, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas running back Jordan Scarlett and cornerback Rashard Causey, Monarch receiver Calvin Ridley and safety Shawn Burgess-Becker and Deerfield Beach defensive end Jason Strowbridge were also among the many visitors.
Cole, who said he’s still solid in his commitment to the Seminoles, said UM’s pursuit of him and some of the area’s top players is “something great. Knowing UM is going to be a great program in three years that they’re recruiting all these big time players.
“That’s something huge for the program.”
It’s just up to UM’s coaching staff, and early commits like Brown to close the deal and get recruits to believe the Canes will be a step closer to winning a National Championship with them on board.
“I know it’s going to happen in the near future,” Brown said of UM winning a title. “I know the U is going to make history like they did back in the days, and I want to be a part of it.”
This story was originally published February 22, 2014 10:35 PM.