Carrying the momentum of three consecutive top-10 recruiting classes, expectations were higher than ever during the Randy Shannon Era, as 2010’s National Signing Day approached, with the Hurricanes in play for several undecided four and five-star prospects who could serve as crown jewels to an otherwise solid yet unspectacular class.
Once the dust had settled, however, UM was left with a class that was more blue-collar than blue-chip. So, sure, to the casual observer, the 2010 class was a disappointment. To the informed fan, on the other hand…well, why don’t we wait until these guys take a snap?
While many have become infatuated with star ratings as some sort of be-all and end-all to a player’s potential, the simple truth is that plenty of highly-touted high schoolers fail to reach their expectations, while several under-the-radar prospects blossom into stars.
It should be no wonder, then, that the day before National Signing Day, university officials announced that Arthur Brown (a one-time can’t-miss prospect) had left the University of Miami to return home to Kansas. Meanwhile, just four days after NSD, the New Orleans Saints, led by former Hurricane (and former two- or three-star recruit) Jon Vilma, topped the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
In fact, the most successful Hurricanes recruiting classes seem to benefit most from two factors that have nothing to do with star ratings: the number of prospects signed, and the number who arrive in January.
This year’s Canes class totals nearly 30-strong (don’t hold your breath for the nation’s top unsigned prospect, Seantrel Henderson), and is especially strong in numbers at three need positions: linebacker, defensive back, and offensive line.
Just as encouraging, six players will be enrolling early; some of whom, like quarterback Stephen Morris and center Shane McDermott, will have the chance to take meaningful reps due to the hand injury of Jacory Harris and graduation of AJ Trump, respectively. In years past, enrolling early, learning the playbook, and getting a head start on college weight training has benefited the likes of Sean Spence and Mike James, among others.
What also cannot be forgotten is the continuity going into 2010. The Hurricanes return both coordinators for the first time in Shannon’s tenure, the talent level of the upperclassmen is no longer surpassed by that of the freshmen, and Miami—despite a difficult non-conference schedule—will be in the hunt to play for their first ACC Championship.
While all these factors point to fewer true freshmen having a significant impact on the upcoming season, it also will allow those players to develop naturally, which is a much-needed approach after years during which many young Hurricanes were forced into featured roles due to a diluted pool of talent.
The success of the greatest Hurricanes teams has always been predicated upon a competitive depth chart. Going into 2010, it appears the Hurricanes are putting together the depth necessary for history to repeat itself.