Miami Football: Analyzing Hurricanes' Top 5 2015 Recruiting Targets
Al Golden and the Miami coaching staff has reeled in 247Sports' No. 13 recruiting class in the nation, including a pair of 4-star running backs.
But instead of focusing on committed players—whether the program is "The U" or elsewhere—this piece will analyze top undecided targets.
Factors taken into account are potential, the Hurricanes' current depth chart and a recruit's perceived ability to immediately contribute. Conversely, the likelihood a given athlete commits to Miami does not exclude anyone.
The prospects are separated based on offense and defense, not ranked in a particular order.
Note: All recruit information courtesy of 247Sports.
Torrance Gibson, Quarterback
Torrance Gibson is determined to be a quarterback in college, and he could be a very good one. The 5-star completed 55.5 percent of his passes, throwing 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions as a junior.
As seen in the accompanying video, Gibson has ridiculous athleticism and is extremely confident with the ball in his hands. And that's why he could be an elite wide receiver.
Gibson stands 6'4" and weighs 200 pounds, and he has showcased a fantastic vertical leap, soaring over defensive backs and high-pointing footballs.
Sending him out wide alongside Stacy Coley and catching passes from Brad Kaaya is certainly an intriguing thought, but one that will likely remain solely in imaginations. Ryan Bartow of 247Sports (subscription required) notes Gibson is highest on Tennessee and Auburn.
The American Heritage superstar will be recruited hard by many teams until signing day, and Miami is definitely one of those programs.
Devonaire Clarington, Tight End
Devonaire Clarington fills a position of need and is a prospect who lives in South Florida. In other words, Miami is all over the tight end.
Of course, calling him a tight end is somewhat misleading because Clarington typically gets split out as a receiver. As seen in his highlight video, he does most of his damage by simply running past outmatched cornerbacks, and that won't happen in college.
The Hurricanes' depth chart suggests they need Clarington on the inside, and he can easily add muscle to a slender 6'6", 220-pound frame. His film shows a singular offensive play with a hand in the dirt, but Clarington also lined up at defensive tackle and doesn't shy away from contact.
While this recruiting battle has long been considered a two-school duel between Alabama and Miami, the Tide recently received a commitment from No. 2 TE Hale Hentges. Clarington is officially Golden's to lose, but the 'Canes must hold off LSU, too.
The versatile 4-star is not a project by any means, but he's nowhere close to a finished product.
Kahlil McKenzie, Defensive Tackle
Last year, Golden and Co. took a step in the right direction by bringing in Calvin Heurtelou and Michael Wyche, but the JUCO transfers are merely stop-gaps. The Hurricanes must sign defensive tackles who will develop into legitimate threats on the line.
It will take some serious work to entice him, but Kahlil McKenzie represents that type of talent. A 6'4", 309-pound defensive tackle, the 4-star has racked up an impressive 74 tackles (18 for loss, 12 sacks).
McKenzie is capable of overpowering defenders when he keeps his legs moving, but he gets caught at the line of scrimmage when standing up too soon. Granted, McKenzie is rarely pushed backwards and often disrupts the pocket.
According to Ryan Callahan of 247Sports (subscription required), McKenzie list The U as his No. 7 school, but he's long had a personal connection to 'Canes assistant Jethro Franklin.
"Miami is really, really interesting because their defensive line coach, I've known since I was 3 years old. We have a great relationship. I mean, Miami is a great school—the tradition that's there—so that's a big school for me."
If Golden somehow manages to steal McKenzie, he would be the biggest heist in the 2015 class.
Jaquan Johnson, Safety
Playmaker, thy name is Jaquan Johnson.
As a junior at nearby Killian High, the 4-star forced a handful of fumbles, recovered three, returned two for touchdowns and tacked on an interception.
Johnson ordinarily lines up at safety—his preferred collegiate position, according to Safid Deen of The Miami Herald—and excels at closing running lanes quickly. He is adequate in coverage and has decent ball skills, plus he anticipates very well from the secondary.
According to David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required), Johnson said: "Miami likes my versatility. They feel like they can move me around at safety or drop me down and play nickel some times. They say I can make plays no matter where I line up and I like that."
Johnson simply finds the ball, and that's exactly what the Hurricanes need after Rayshawn Jenkins and Deon Bush graduate following the 2015 campaign.
Tim Irvin, Athlete
Forget the family ties, Tim Irvin is a solid player in his own right.
Offensively, Irvin displays superb vision and has an explosive first step as a running back and receiver. Per David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required), Irvin said Miami has considered utilizing him everywhere—even special teams.
They like me as a defensive back and a player that can really help on special teams, but Coach Coley says he likes me in the slot too. It is nice to know that they respect my ability that much that they want me as a player on both sides of the ball.
If the Hurricanes wants to use Irvin at safety, though, he needs to improve his play-recognition abilities. Irvin tends to look lost for a moment and that causes him to be arrive at the ball slightly late.
The nation's 18th-best athlete measures in at only 5'9" and 186 pounds, so being in the right position to make plays is paramount to negate his small stature.