The Miami Hurricanes are demanding recruiting headlines, securing pledges from some of the nation's best prospects. Midway through November, the 'Canes have 27 non-binding verbal commitments for the 2014 class.
After taking criticism for signing only a handful of prospects from South Florida during the 2013 cycle, head coach Al Golden has scavenged the local area for talent this time around.
But not only has Golden found players full of potential, the prospects have committed to become a member of the improving program. So far, 18 of Miami's 27 current pledges hail from the state of Florida, and 16 of those 18 are located in the neighboring counties of Dade, Palm Beach and Broward.
Golden is slowly building a fence around South Florida—one that is only infringed upon by the Alabamas, Floridas, and LSUs of the country for a player or two. The 'Canes can't get 'em all, but Golden is doing a remarkable job keeping elite talent at home.
As of this writing, Miami's 2014 group is ranked No. 6 in the nation by 247Sports, and the Hurricanes' 27-man class also holds the top rank in the ACC.
Even though Miami already has an enormous class, the 'Canes are still addressing some shortcomings.
One glaring weakness is at defensive tackle, where Miami lacks an impact player. Currently, two 4-stars, a pair of JUCO prospects and one more high school prospect are committed, but Golden is not done recruiting that position.
Miami must soon entirely replace its experienced offensive line, losing Seantrel Henderson, Brandon Linder and key reserve Jared Wheeler this year before Shane McDermott, Jon Feliciano and Malcolm Bunche leave after next season.
However, this need was addressed early, and the three incoming Hurricanes are rated 4-star prospects by 247Sports.
Lastly, though Miami has superstar Duke Johnson, the 'Canes are in need of more running back talent. Dallas Crawford and Gus Edwards are decent backups, but Golden wants more depth at the position.
Right now, two local backs are committed to Miami, and the coaching staff is hot on the trails of two more area studs.
Most Important Commits
McDermott is touted as one of the best linemen in the nation, considering the brother of current Miami center Shane McDermott is the No. 3 offensive tackle according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
After being invited to the Elite 11, Kaaya soared up recruiting boards and received more offers from big-name programs. But Miami offensive coordinator James Coley noticed Kaaya early and had already secured a commitment from the California quarterback before his emergence onto the national scene.
A Miami Central product, Yearby shares his high school's backfield with 5-star prospect and current Florida commit Dalvin Cook. Yearby projects to fight for second-string carries as a true freshman, challenging Crawford and Edwards immediately upon arrival.
At 6'4" and nearly 300 pounds, Valentine is a big-bodied interior lineman who will clog the trenches and disrupt runs, allowing Miami to accrue more tackles for loss.
Thomas is the country's third-best weak-side defensive end, according to the 247Sports composite. The 6'5" end plays for powerhouse Booker T. Washington alongside fellow Miami commit Demetrius Jackson, and the duo is pounding quarterbacks this season.
Additionally, don't sleep on Darrion Owens, a prime safety-to-linebacker candidate, bringing a pension of huge hits and utter disdain of ball-carriers.
Check out the full list of Miami commitments in the 2014 class.
|2014 Miami Verbal Commitments|
Most Important Targets
The Hurricanes may have 27 committed players, but the coaching staff is far from content, staying in contact with some top prospects around the nation.
|2014 Miami Targets|
|Dalvin Cook (committed to Florida)||5||RB||5'11"||190|
|Sony Michel (committed to Georgia)||4||RB||5'11"||205|
|J.C. Jackson (committed to Florida)||4||WR||5'10"||180|
|Ermon Lane (committed to Florida)||4||WR||6'3"||193|
|Cory Johnson (committed to Kentucky)||4||DT||6'3"||287|
|Jojo Robinson (committed to FSU)||3||ATH||6'0"||175|
Miami's top targets include local running backs Dalvin Cook and Sony Michel, though the prospects are committed to Florida and Georgia, respectively.
Golden and Co. is looking to secure a commitment from wide receiver Johnnie Dixon, but "The U" is battling Alabama and Ohio State for the 4-star wideout's eventual services.
247Sports' David Lake (subscription required) dished on many of the 'Canes targets in a recent recruiting buzz piece. Lake notes Miami is still pursuing committed recruits like Michel, Cook and Lane while setting up official visits for other prospects to fill its class.
Nothing is official until signing day, but the Hurricanes' coaching staff has done a fantastic job recruiting for the 2014 cycle.
And with the NCAA in the rearview mirror, things are looking up for Miami.
Follow Bleacher Report CFB and NBA Featured Columnist David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR