Miami Football: Ranking the Hurricanes' Top 10 Recruiting Targets for 2015
The Miami Hurricanes are pursuing some of the nation's top prospects in the 2015 class, but a certain group of players represents the most important targets.
For the first time, Al Golden and his coaching staff will not be handcuffed due to an NCAA investigation, though a few scholarship reductions loom ahead.
Regardless, the South Florida recruiting scene is absolutely loaded with talent, especially at running back, wide receiver and in the secondary.
Odds are Golden does not get all of these players, but snagging any majority of them would give the 'Canes their best big-name class in recent history.
Note: All prospect information and rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
10. Tarvarus McFadden, Cornerback
247Sports' Composite Ranking: No. 2 S
Though he may be the second-highest-rated prospect on the list, Tarvarus McFadden kicks off the rankings.
David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required) says McFadden enjoyed junior day at Miami, and the safety discussed the defensive scheme with the staff.
"I got to meet the coaches and talk to them one-on-one," McFadden said. "They talked about the schemes and coverages that they like to run. They run a lot of man coverage. That is what I like."
The Miami coaches are pressing hard, so if McFadden commits to another program, it's clear he simply wanted to head elsewhere. And there's nothing wrong with that.
9. Da'Vante Phillips, Wide Receiver
247Sports' Composite Ranking: No. 6 WR
Wide receiver Da'Vante Phillips has played alongside current Miami players, so the Miami Central wideout has a solid connection with the Hurricanes.
Last season, Phillips recorded 47 receptions for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns, bringing his high school total to 100 catches, 1,658 yards and 22 scores.
Peter Ariz of CanesInSight notes Phillips appreciates the way offensive coordinator James Coley is recruiting him, saying, "It's not like he's just coming at you and saying 'I want you, I want you.' He actually explains why he wants you and how you'll fit in the offense."
Phillips would have a great opportunity to contribute immediately, as Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott run out of eligibility following the 2014 campaign.
8. Tyrek Cole, Cornerback
247Sports' Composite Ranking: No. 5 CB
Tyrek Cole hails from nearby Miramar, where Ryan Williams, Tracy Howard, Malcolm Lewis and Jermaine Grace also played high school ball.
Cole is currently committed to Florida State, but the 'Canes are not backing off the excellent cornerback. Over the last two seasons, Cole has registered 74 tackles, four interceptions and 32 pass breakups.
As the staff does with many prospects, Golden and Co. are using location as a key in Cole's recruitment. Per Lake (subscription required), "They were telling me that it would be great to stay home and help bring Miami back."
Cole eventually choosing any of FSU, West Virginia or Miami would not be surprising. Similar to Cole, if he decides to join a different university, it won't be due to a lack of trying by the staff.
7. Torrance Gibson, Quarterback
247Sports' Composite Ranking: No. 1 DT QB
Left-handed quarterback Torrance Gibson dominated the 2013 season, leading his American Heritage team to a rout in the state championship.
Gibson had a fantastic year, completing 55.6 percent of his attempts and racking up 1,789 yards and 19 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He also ran for 1,063 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Lake (subscription required) writes Gibson said, "None of the coaches show me the kind of attention that coach Al Golden does. He does it every day. That just shows me how he wants me as a quarterback and how bad he wants me at Miami."
The 5-star QB is coveted by programs all over the country, and the Hurricanes will likely remain near the top of his list throughout the recruiting process.
6. Jordan Cronkrite, Running Back
247Sports' Composite Ranking: No. 24 ATH
Miami is searching for at least one elite running back in the 2015 class, and Jordan Cronkrite certainly fits that billing.
As a junior at Westminster Christian, Cronkrite averaged 11.8 yards per carry and scored 15 touchdowns.
Lake (subscription required) notes the depth-chart situation is attractive to Cronkrite, who said, "This is supposedly Duke's last year, so I could come in and play right away. It would be just me and Joseph Yearby."
Gus Edwards will have something to say about that, of course, but the Hurricanes are working toward having a three-headed monster available every year. While Cronkrite cannot fully replace Duke Johnson, he's a step in the right direction.
5. Devonaire Clarington, Tight End
247Sports' Composite Ranking: No. 2 TE
The Hurricanes are in dire need of a tight end. Clive Walford and Beau Sandland will be seniors, and prospectively, Standish Dobard is practically the only returning player for 2015.
Champagnat Catholic High School's Devonaire Clarington is easily the top tight end on the Miami recruiting board this cycle. At 6'6", Clarington is a massive target, and he hauled in 46 passes for 890 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.
According to Luke Stampini of 247Sports (subscription required), Clarington loves that he can visit the campus regularly because it's so close, and "it's awesome...everything is great."
Clarington may not be the highest name on this list, but based on team needs, he very well could be the most important.
4. Shawn Burgess-Becker, Safety
247Sports' Composite Ranking: No. 7 ATH
Despite projection as a safety, Burgess-Becker told 247Sports' David Lake that Miami is recruiting him as an athlete and not just a safety. As a junior, he recorded 20 receptions for 518 yards and five touchdowns on offense, making 72 tackles and five interceptions on defense.
Lake (subscription required) says that Miami is in the athlete's top two and that Burgess-Becker "likes [the 'Canes] a lot. They are close to home and they are one of the schools you dream about playing for as a kid."
And standing at 6'1" with stellar ball skills, Burgess-Becker would be an absolute treat to watch playing center field in the Hurricanes secondary.
3. Brandon Wimbush, Quarterback
247Sports' Composite Ranking: No. 5 DT QB
A 4-star quarterback from New Jersey, Brandon Wimbush is definitely a more polished passer than Gibson. Last season, Wimbush completed 52 of 80 passes, tossing eight touchdowns and three interceptions while adding 237 yards and two scores on the ground.
Wimbush is teammates with 5-star cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick, so if this duo ends up being a package deal, the St. Peter's Prep tandem should be the one Hurricanes fans are begging for.
Wimbush has family in South Florida, which has allowed him to visit campus three times already. Additionally, Nate Adelson of 247Sports (subscription required) reports Wimbush said the Miami coaching staff once told him he was No. 1 on the board.
Should he attend Miami, the 6'2" quarterback would be behind Kevin Olsen and Brad Kaaya. However, Wimbush is a better runner than either gunslinger, so he would provide another style of play under center.
2. Calvin Ridley, Wide Receiver
247Sports' Composite Ranking: No. 4 WR
Long story short, Calvin Ridley makes things happen.
Ridley tallied 41 receptions, gaining 1,131 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns, as a junior. And no, that's not a typo—he averaged an insanely impressive 27.6 yards per catch.
The speedy receiver's penchant for creating big plays is clearly attractive to Miami. David Lake of 247Sports notes the receiver said, "They like how I can get down the field and they said they could get the ball to me quick so I could make plays after the catch. They want me to come and have an impact for their offense."
Ridley has "Want" written all over him, and the prospective combination of Stacy Coley and Ridley is rather exciting.
1. Jaquan Johnson, Safety
247Sports' Composite Ranking: No. 19 ATH
Ball-hawk instincts, punishing hits and the ability to force fumbles are just a few reasons why Jaquan Johnson tops the most wanted list for Miami.
Johnson has tallied 181 tackles and 13 interceptions throughout his high school career, largely due to playing both man and zone coverage at an above-average level.
Johnson is an elite talent, so Miami will pursue him until signing day. Plus, if he were to be another factor in Irvin committing to the 'Canes, what else can you ask from a prospect?