Al Golden's First Recruiting Class Set for Big 2014

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2014

Phillip Dorsett missed half of his junior season, but he is preparing for a great senior year.
Phillip Dorsett missed half of his junior season, but he is preparing for a great senior year.Associated Press

A 7-5 regular season capped by a deflating overtime loss to South Florida in 2010 sealed Randy Shannon's fate as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.

Shannon was fired, and the school proceeded to hire Al Golden, the man who rebuilt the Temple football program.

Golden managed to scrap together his first recruiting class at "The U," though some quarterback named Teddy Bridgewater slipped away from the 'Canes.

The 2011 cycle was not necessarily kind to Miami, considering nearly half the commits are no longer on the team. But the Hurricanes have high expectations for the remaining redshirt juniors and fourth-year seniors.

What Happened to the 2011 Class?

Golden and his coaching staff signed 20 prospects during the 2011 class, including one 5-star, three 4-stars, 11 3-stars, three 2-stars and two players with no rating.

As is the case with any recruiting class, they have had varying impacts on the team.

Miami 2011 Recruiting Class
PlayerPositionStarsRole on Team?
Anthony ChickilloDE5Starter
Kevin GroomsATH4Did not qualify
Jalen GrimbleDE4Transferred
Dallas CrawfordCB4Key reserve
Denzel PerrymanOLB3Starter
Ricardo WilliamsDE3Transferred
Gionni PaulOLB3No longer on team
Olsen PierreDE3Starter
Phillip DorsettWR3Starter
Antonio KinardOLB3Did not qualify
Thomas FinnieDE3No longer on team
Eddie JohnsonOLB3No longer on team
Corey KingDT3Reserve
Matt GoudisK3Starter
Rashawn ScottWR3Starter
Dalton BottsP2 (JUCO)Graduated
Junior AlexisDT2Transferred
Hunter WellsOT2Reserve
Darius SmithDTNR (JUCO)Graduated
Thurston ArmbristerSNRStarter
247Sports Composite

Eddie Johnson, Gionni Paul and Thomas Finnie each were on track to be major contributors by the 2014 campaign. For various reasons, however, the trio is no longer with the program.

Kevin Grooms and Antonio Kinard did not qualify, while Jalen Grimble, Ricardo Williams and Junior Alexis each elected to transfer. Junior college additions Dalton Botts and Darius Smith ran out of eligibility.

Broken down, there are just 10 remaining players out of the 20 who committed in 2011. With that being said, seven of the 10 are starters, one is a key backup and the final two are reserves.

Down 2013 Season Leaves Room to Improve

Rashawn Scott injured his shoulder as he made this impressive one-handed catch.
Rashawn Scott injured his shoulder as he made this impressive one-handed catch.Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

During the 2012 campaign, wide receivers Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott combined for 93 catches, 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns.

But last year, the tandem played in just 12 games, hauling in 16 passes for 310 yards and two scores after Dorsett took a helmet to the knee and Scott landed awkwardly on his shoulder. Really, it is extremely difficult for Dorsett and Scott to regress from a disappointing, injury-hampered 2013 season.

Defensive end Anthony Chickillo and defensive tackle Olsen Pierre have consistently been on the field, but their impact is rarely felt in key games.

Chickillo typically performs well against lower-level competition, but talented run-blockers on Florida State and Duke kept the third-generation Hurricane away from the football. Similarly, Pierre contributed his single tackle for loss during the season opener and was a non-factor for most of the year.

Linebacker Denzel Perryman had a breakout season, racking up 108 tackles, including 5.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Fellow 'backer Thurston Armbrister appeared in every game, tallying 33 tackles and tying Perryman with the third-highest mark on the team with 5.0 tackles for loss.

Though the aforementioned numbers are nothing to scoff at, both Perryman and Armbrister can improve relatively easily.

Last year, Dallas Crawford gained 729 yards from scrimmage and scored 13 touchdowns, and despite his switch to the defensive backfield, the athlete will be present in multiple facets of the game.

After earning the starting job, kicker Matt Goudis broke a school record, connecting on 57 consecutive extra points. While he is also challenging Ricky Carroll to handle punting duties as well, Goudis will continue his impressive streak in 2014.

Ready for a Big 2014 Season

Miami must replace Allen Hurns' record-breaking season, and Dorsett enters 2014 as the No. 2 receiver behind Stacy Coley. When opposing secondaries get burned by Coley once, they must focus attention on the outstanding sophomore.

Save for maybe cornerback Artie Burns, Dorsett is the fastest player on the Miami roster.

Prospective quarterback Ryan Williams does not throw an outstanding deep ball, but Coley will dominate the 10- to 15-yard routes, which are Williams' strength.

Add Dorsett's excellent speed and Scott's big-play ability to the picture for an entire season, and the Hurricanes can spread the field while achieving better results than the downfield bombs by Stephen Morris produced.

Miami needs its veteran linemen to step up, and Chickillo has the size to be dominant, but it's a matter of putting it together on game day. Pierre, Golden's first commit at Miami, needs to shed blocks better to disrupt flow in the backfield.

An impressive haul in 2014 helps the future, but the seniors must excel during the upcoming season. Oh, and a much-improved senior year would help the duo for the 2015 NFL Draft.

Anthony Chickillo only has one more collegiate season, and he has a lot to prove.
Anthony Chickillo only has one more collegiate season, and he has a lot to prove.Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

A first-team All-ACC honoree in 2013, Perryman is one of the conference's top returning defensive players. Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post notes Perryman is moving inside, and the move lessens the burden on the 'Canes needing another young linebacker to step up.

His play-recognition ability and quick first step is a key to the Miami defense improving, because Perryman will be called upon to offset some freshman and sophomore mistakes.

Expecting Armbrister to become a Perryman clone on the outside is unfair, but the senior made 16 of his 33 tackles during the final four games last season.

Armbrister will have more teammates gunning for his position, and he must become more disruptive in rushing situations to keep the starting job. And if the end of the 2013 campaign was any indication, Armbrister will do just that.

Per Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami HeraldGolden called Crawford "a top-22 guy." Though the South Fort Myers High School product will not accumulate the stats he did last year, Crawford will lead the special teams unit, which is an important under-the-radar role.

Largely because of his constant effort, Dallas Crawford is fan favorite.
Largely because of his constant effort, Dallas Crawford is fan favorite.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Goudis did not earn many headlines, but as a kicker, it means he was converting regularly—and more importantly, not missing critical attempts.

The seven starters, plus Crawford, who were signed in the 2011 class have obviously important roles for the 2014 season.

From spreading to the field to tracking down opposing skill-position players, they are set for a big season. Now, it's a matter of working, preparing and performing on a weekly basis—and the last has eluded the group for three seasons.

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.


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