Miami National Signing Day 2014: Position-by-Position Analysis
National signing day 2014 did not bring any surprises for the Miami Hurricanes, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Overall, the 'Canes brought in 26 new players, nine of whom are already on campus for the spring semester. Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post notes head coach Al Golden enjoyed signing day, as he saw all previously committed recruits sign with Miami.
Now that the dust has settled on the first day that college prospects could officially sign their national letters of intent, breaking down the signees by position is finally clear.
Was Golden simply coach-speaking, or should the Hurricanes' fanbase be content with the rounded, balanced class despite missing out on a couple of big names?
Brad Kaaya—4-star pro-style QB; 6'4", 215 lbs; West Hills, Calif.
Malik Rosier—4-star dual-threat QB; 6'2", 205 lbs; Mobile, Ala.
Brad Kaaya is one of the top players in the class, and he will contend for the starting job immediately. Unfortunately, he was unable to enroll early, so expecting a redshirt season from the California quarterback is not a stretch.
With that being said, his outstanding touch, arm strength and pocket presence will aid him in his battle with Kevin Olsen in future years.
Malik Rosier brings a true dual-threat option to the Hurricanes after running for 1,275 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior. He will occupy a very useful role, providing the speed and acceleration combination that Olsen and Kaaya lack.
Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel notes that Rosier plans on playing baseball at "The U" as well, per Golden.
In football, however, it's a safe bet that Rosier will redshirt during the 2014 campaign.
Joseph Yearby—4-star RB; 5'9", 190 lbs; Miami, Fla.
Yearby is already on campus, but he is recovering from a leg injury.
Miami should not rush him back, but his ability to see the hole, make one cut and accelerate through it is bordering on elite, so the 'Canes are eagerly awaiting his return. As a high school senior, he carried the ball 177 times, tallying 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Once he finishes his rehabilitation, Yearby will join a backfield with the outstanding Duke Johnson and a pair of reserves in Dallas Crawford and Gus Edwards.
Crawford and Edwards were less than impressive while replacing Johnson, so Yearby is entering a perfect situation to earn a backup role this season.
Braxton Berrios—4-star WR; 5'8'', 170 lbs; Raleigh, N.C.
Darrell Langham—3-star WR; 6'5", 190 lbs; Lake Worth, Fla.
Tyre Brady—3-star WR; 6'3", 187 lbs; Homestead, Fla.
Trayone Gray—3-star WR/ATH; 6'2", 210 lbs; Opa Locka, Fla.
David Njoku—3-star ATH; 6'4", 220 lbs; Cedar Grove, N.J.
There may not be a Stacy Coley in this haul, but the five new receivers help balance some areas that the current unit lacks.
A fan favorite, Braxton Berrios has ridiculous stop-and-start ability, previously posting a 20-yard shuttle time of 3.81. He can be used both in the slot and the backfield, which will allow the Hurricanes to run an uptempo style and create mismatches for the defense by moving him around.
Tyre Brady and Trayone Gray—assuming he qualifies—are electric once the ball is in their hands.
As a senior in high school, Brady caught 39 passes for 600 yards and 14 touchdowns. Gray, who is considered more of an athlete than a receiver, ran for 1,121 yards and 11 scores while throwing for 807 yards and nine touchdowns.
Right away, David Njoku and Darrell Langham will be the biggest targets for the quarterbacks. Between the two, there is potential for a two-headed red-zone threat, considering thet about six inches taller than most cornerbacks.
Physically, Njoku is better suited for the collegiate ranks—conceivably as a tight end in the future—whereas Langham needs to add weight to become an every-down receiver.
Chris Herndon—3-star TE; 6'4", 230 lbs; Norcross, Ga.
Ryheem Lockley originally committed for the 2013 class and did not qualify, but he kept his pledge for most of the 2014 cycle. However, he ultimately flipped to Marshall and left a single tight end in the Miami class.
Chris Herndon, a high school teammate of 5-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter, comes to the 'Canes listed at 6'4" and 230 pounds. He is a physical tight end who has decent hands and finishes hard after catching passes by running through a final opponent.
Clive Walford, Beau Sandland and Standish Dobard return, so Herndon may see time on special teams initially. During his second year, though, he will have a better opportunity for offensive reps because Walford's and Sandland's eligibility expires following the 2014 season.
KC McDermott—4-star OT; 6'6", 300 lbs; West Palm Beach, Fla.
Trevor Darling—4-star OT; 6'4", 327 lbs; Miami, Fla.
Nick Linder—3-star OG; 6'3", 273 lbs; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
KC McDermott receives a ton of hype, possessing an outstanding frame and showing excellent all-around blocking ability for both run and pass plays. An early enrollee, he is a serious candidate to earn a starting job next season, and he has the makings of an elite offensive tackle.
Trevor Darling, another early addition, needs to clean up his footwork and body positioning, which will likely send him inside as a guard for now. However, he and McDermott are poised to hold down the tackle spots in a couple of years.
As a freshman, Nick Linder will get the chance to learn the ropes behind McDermott's older brother and current center, Shane.
Linder tends to lock onto defenders to drive them off the ball, which is effective until he loses hand position. That said, he does a decent initial job of gaining leverage off the snap and consistently makes his way toward the second level to throw another block.
Another 4-star, Reilly Gibbons, was a part of this class until he flipped to Stanford shortly before signing day.
Chad Thomas—5-star DE; 6'5", 240 lbs; Miami, Fla.
Trent Harris—4-star DE; 6'2", 226 lbs; Winter Park, Fla.
Demetrius Jackson—3-star DE, 6'4", 220 lbs; Miami, Fla.
In the above video, Chad Thomas matched up with some of the nation's top offensive line prospects at The Opening. Long story short: If you did not get a chance to watch, he dominated them.
He has tons of potential thanks to his 6'5", 240-pound frame and nonstop motor. With a few technical refinements, he can become one of the conference's best ends by his junior season.
Already on campus, Trent Harris is a typical tweener who lacks prototypical defensive end size and is not quite suited to play linebacker. However, his jump off the snap and overall quickness will keep some linemen guessing and allow him to disrupt the quarterback.
Demetrius Jackson is a raw talent, considering he had not played football during his first three years at Booker T. Washington, where Thomas also starred.
Once Jackson adds muscle to his 6'4" body, he will mirror Tyriq McCord's size when he was a freshman. That season, McCord was used as a speed-rusher in passing situations, and Jackson would be a perfect fit for the same role.
Anthony Moten—4-star DT; 6'4", 292 lbs; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Calvin Heurtelou—3-star DT; 6'3", 304 lbs; Spring Valley, N.Y.
Michael Wyche—3-star DT; 6'4", 315 lbs; East Los Angeles, Calif.
Courtel Jenkins—3-star DT; 6'2", 294 lbs; Jersey City, N.J.
Local product Anthony Moten highlights the four-man addition, and he should see playing time as a true freshman. He explodes off the ball rather well for a defensive tackle and is superb at moving, ripping or swimming his blockers.
Calvin Heurtelou has enrolled at the university and will compete with incumbent starter Olsen Pierre and a few backups, such as Earl Moore and Corey King. Heurtelou and fellow JUCO transfer Michael Wyche are far from game-changers at defensive tackle, but their presence should lessen the negative buzz around the position.
Along with Wyche, signee Courtel Jenkins will arrive for the summer semester. He will clog space, but expectations must be tempered because any major impact is probably three years away.
Ultimately, the Hurricanes upgraded the tackle spot, especially adding legitimate depth and not just warm bodies.
Darrion Owens—3-star OLB; 6'3", 216 lbs; Orange Park, Fla.
Juwon Young—3-star OLB; 6'2", 228 lbs; Albany, Ga.
Mike Smith—3-star OLB; 6'2", 210 lbs; Miami, Fla.
Terry McCray—3-star ILB; 6'2", 215 lbs; Pompano Beach, Fla.
Overall, linebacker was the Hurricanes' greatest position of need—yes, more important than the defensive line. Denzel Perryman is the lone proven player, and Thurston Armbrister is the only other with significant experience.
Darrion Owens and Juwon Young join a relatively inexperienced group of Raphael Kirby, Alex Figueroa and Jermaine Grace, who are all looking to earn a starting job during the 2014 season.
Note: Tyriq McCord will be a factor at outside linebacker opposite Perryman, but his role as an every-down player is another story.
Known for unleashing brutal hits on the field, Owens and Young are early enrollees and adjusting to the rigors of college life. While they are likely to be special teamers next season, look for one of them to best the other for a significant role as a sophomore.
Terry McCray is the most unpolished of the group, and he will sit behind Kirby for at least two seasons. McCray figures to be an inside linebacker, especially considering the young players above him on the outside.
Smith has been listed as an outside linebacker by scouting services, but he will almost certainly move to an edge-rushing role as a defensive end.
Ryan Mayes—3-star CB; 6'2", 180 lbs; Miami, Fla.
It was not a headline-worthy cornerback haul, but local product Ryan Mayes enrolled early at the university. He needs to add some weight, but he has superb height and speed for a cornerback, standing 6'2" and running a 4.50 40-yard dash, per his 247Sports profile.
The 'Canes missed out on J.C. Jackson, and Nigel Bethel flipped from The U to Texas Tech, but Miami does not need immediate help at the corners.
Tracy Howard, Ladarius Gunter, Artie Burns and Antonio Crawford are capable of manning the corners this season, while Nate Dortch and Larry Hope are waiting in reserve.
Kiy Hester—4-star S; 6'0", 200 lbs; Wayne, N.J.
Marques Gayot—3-star S; 6'1", 205 lbs; Lake Worth, Fla.
Similar to the cornerback position, Miami does not need immediate help at safety. With that being said, it does.
Deon Bush and Rayshawn Jenkins are promising defensive backs who are both entering their junior season, while Jamal Carter is a capable backup. The problem, however, is if Jenkins or Bush—who has a history of injury—gets hurt, Carter would be thrown into a starting job, and the 'Canes would need another safety to step up.
Throughout high school, Kiy Hester showed excellent closing speed, breaking up 18 passes, snagging five interceptions and unleashing some nasty hits. The Miami coaching staff should get two full seasons to groom him into becoming an all-conference safety, which he appears more than capable of accomplishing.
Conversely, Marques Gayot's style is seen more in his run-stopping and play-recognition abilities. He shows outstanding physicality at the line of scrimmage. He approached double-digit interceptions in high school, but many were results of poorly thrown passes.
Hester and Gayot both played wide receiver in high school, though, so their ball skills should not be discounted.