With spring games over and the beginning of fall practices months away, college football coaches across the nation are trying to convince high school juniors and seniors to commit to their respective universities.
Head football coach at the University of Miami, Randy Shannon, has arguably more pressure than any other coach in the nation to sign a top five recruiting class.
Since Shannon’s 2008 recruiting class which ESPN ranked the #1 recruiting class in the nation, Shannon has struggled to bring the top talent in the nation to Coral Gables.
Ivan McCartney, Sheldon Richardson, Seantrel Henderson, Frankie Telfort, Matt Elam, and Jeff Luc all chose other schools over Miami. Shannon defended his recent recruiting struggles to the fact that several recruits were concerned with how long Shannon would be at Miami.
With Shannon’s recent four year contract extension, it's put up or shut up for the Canes head coach.
Due to Miami’s past three recruiting classes which saw a high number of commitments: 2008 (33), 2009 (19), and 2010 (20),the Canes 2011 recruiting class is going to be about quality more than quantity.
South Florida remains the “Mecca” of the high school football recruiting. Shannon will have additional pressure to make sure that the top local talent in South Florida sign with the hometown Hurricanes.
Here are the Top 10 Football Recruit Targets for the University of Miami in 2011.
Offensive linemen are always a recruiting need. The Canes took six offensive linemen in last year’s class but are looking for more and have decided that Brey Cook is their top target.
Cook, an Arkansas native, is going to be a hard recruit for the Canes to pull in.
Alabama, Auburn, and Oklahoma appear to be the teams to beat for the No. 7 OT in this class according to Scouts.com
Cook is planning on taking an unofficial trip to Miami this summer. Cook plans on committing fairly early, so if the Canes are able to get Cook to commit, it could have a huge influence on other recruits' decisions.
Randy Shannon has proven with the Robert Marve and Bryce Brown sagas that he is looking for character guys. There is arguably no one that is more of a “character guy” in this recruiting class than Wayne Lyons.
The Fort Lauderdale safety has according to Rivals.com a 4.96 G.P.A. and wants to major in engineering in college.
Besides being a stud in the class room, Lyons holds over 40 offers from every major college program and is one of the best safeties in the nation.
Safety is not a huge need for the Canes in this recruiting class, but the Canes would love for Lyons stay close to home and choose Miami.
This 6’3” 220lb defensive end is one of the most coveted recruits in Dade County. Playing for the 6A powerhouse Columbus high school, Rabasa’s recruitment has picked up lately and he now has over 20 offers.
Miami has givern Rabasa an offer and has made it clear to him that he is a high priority.
The Canes would love to get Rabasa’s commitment because of his great talent but also because his commitment could be very influential to other Cane recruits. The highly recruited wide receiver Tacoi Sumler is a teammate at Columbus and could be persuaded to sign with the Canes if Rabasa does.
Rabasa is also a close friend with Coral Gables linebacker Denzel Perryman (who is also featured in this list). Rabasa told InsidetheU.com that both players hope to attend the same college.
Canes fans will want to play close attention to Rabasa’s recruitment from here on out. His commitment could have huge implications for this year’s recruiting class.
Very few recruits had a more productive junior season than Sammy Watkins. The South Fort Myers High School athlete had 46 receptions for 1,192 yards and 14 touchdowns on offense and 50 tackles and five interceptions on defense.
Watkins will be a weapon on whatever side of the ball he plays in college.
A good thing for Canes fans is that fellow teammate; defensive back Dallas Crawford is very high on UM and almost committed earlier this year.
Canes fans will be hoping for the two to come to Miami as a package deal.
The Miami Hurricanes must have a theory about defensive ends with the first name Anthony, because Anthony Chickillo is the second one to appear on this list.
The 6’3” 225lb end with 4.8 speed is an absolute monster, and his offers reflect that. Chickillo already lists over 40 offers from almost every BCS powerhouse in the country.
The Tampa native will be one of the most sought after players this entire year and the Canes will have their work cut out for them.
But the Canes do have an Ace in the hole. Chickillo’s father and grandfather both played football at the University of Miami.
The current roster for the Miami Hurricanes is stacked with wide receivers.
Leonard Hankerson, Laron Byrd, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, and Thearon Collier are just some of the playmakers at the wide receiver position.
But the Canes have added only one wide receiver in the past two recruiting cycles (Allen Hurns).
So in 2011, wide receiver is a high priority position for the Canes. And who is the number one target for the Canes at wide receiver?
Answer: Kelvin Benjamin
The 6'6" 210lb Glades Central receiver is a complete mismatch for defensive backs. Despite his freakish size, Benjamin runs great routes and is very fluid on the field.
Getting Benjamin to commit is going to be a dogfight for the Canes because Benjamin is wanted by some of the biggest names in college football. Randy Shannon is going to have to pull out all the stops to get the Belle Glade receiver to commit to Miami.
If the title of this list was “Best Players Miami is Recruiting in 2011” James Wilder Jr. would be no. 1. This Tampa athlete is the star player for Plant High School Panthers who are the back-to-back 5A champions in Florida.
Wilder was the national junior player of the year and has a very good chance of being the number one recruit in the nation his senior year.
The 6”2” 216lb monster played running back and defensive end/linebacker last year, but wants to play running back at the next level.
One of the problems for the Canes trying to land Wilder is the fact that Miami has so many running backs on their roster. Damien Berry, Mike James, Lamar Miller, Darion Hall, and Eduardo Clements are all highly recruited running backs on the Canes’ roster.
Also Wilder’s high school coach at Plant, Robert Weiner, is the same coach who publically criticized Randy Shannon for kicking former Plant and University of Miami quarterback Robert Marve off the team. Weiner stated several times that he would not want one of his players to play for Shannon again.
The University of Miami has produced some of the best tight ends in NFL history. Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow II, and Greg Olsen all had great careers at UM and in the NFL.
Over the past few seasons the Canes have desperately been looking for the next great tight end. Jimmy Graham, a former UM basketball player turned tight end, has been the most successful tight end of late for the Canes… pretty embarrassing.
With Miami’s recent struggle at the tight end position, Miami has placed a huge emphasis on getting a great one this recruiting cycle.
The Canes have targeted Nick O’Leary as their man.
The West Palm Beach native is the #3 tight end in the nation according to Scouts.com. The Dwyer high school tight end lists over 30 offers and has Miami near the top of his list.
Having O’Leary’s commitment would be a huge win for the Canes but it will not be easy. Ohio State which is one of O’Leary’s favorites is his grandfather's alma mater, legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus.
Calling Denzel Perryman the number two target for the Hurricanes is really a disgrace. The way it should be is that the number player on this list should be 1A and Perryman should be 1B.
You never want to say a recruit is a “must-have” for a school because there are so many factors that go into college recruiting. But Perryman is the closest thing to a “must-have” recruit for the University of Miami.
Coral Gables High School, where Perryman has been a star inside linebacker since his freshman year, is less than two miles from the University of Miami campus.
Perryman received his first college offer during the spring of his freshman year from the University of Miami.
The 5’11” 217lb linebacker also attends the same high school as former All-American linebacker for the Miami Hurricanes Jonathan Vilma who recently won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints.
Over the past few seasons, the Canes have desperately been searching for a star at the linebacker position, especially with the bust of linebacker Arthur Brown. If Perryman does not commit with the Canes, Randy Shannon will have a lot of explaining to do.
Every Miami Hurricane fan has known about Teddy Bridgewater since his sophomore year when he led Miami Northwestern Bulls to the state 6A final. The Bulls ended up losing the game to Sanford Seminole which was led by the three headed monster of Ray Ray Armstrong (UM), Andre Debose (UF), and Dyron Dye (UM).
Bridgewater has been the starting quarterback for Northwestern since Jacory Harris graduated and enrolled at UM… and the comparisons have never stopped.
Bridgewater is more athletically gifted than Harris was at his age, but Harris was a better passer. Some colleges have been skeptical about Bridgewater playing QB at the college level and have mentioned the possibility of him playing WR.
The 6’3”, 185lb quarterback with 4.5 speed has stated that he wants to play QB at the next level and that Miami has always been recruiting him at quarterback.
Reports have stated that Bridgewater would like to play in the SEC Conference which would bode poorly for the Canes, but Miami should be a finalist for the Teddy Bridgewater sweepstakes.
Quarterback is a top priority for the Canes recruiting class in 2011. The dream situation for Randy Shannon and Canes fans is to have Jacory Harris’ predecessor at UM be the same player who replaced him at Miami Northwestern.