Because of that, recruiting tight ends became a big priority for the Class of 2013. They were able to land an early commitment from Standish Dobard from Louisiana. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Dobard is long, athletic, and a major pass-catching threat. He's one of the nation's premier prospects at his position. He won't arrive here until the summer, though, so his chances of making a big impact are a bit smaller than someone who could enroll in time for the spring semester.
Enter Pierce Junior College standout Beau Sandland. At 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds, Sandland emerged as the nation's premier Juco tight end prospect this year. He was extremely productive at the Juco level, has a tremendous amount of athletic ability, has soft hands, and is a very physical football player. He plays with attitude. He is a difference-maker type of a talent. And he has already graduated, and is set to enroll next month.
Every school in America that was interested in taking a Juco tight end this year had offered him. He took visits to schools like Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Arizona State in addition to Miami. Earlier today, Sandland signed with the Hurricanes.
Pairing him with Walford immediately gives Miami's offense a major boost going into the 2013 season. Since he'll go through spring football with the team, he will likely be able to play a big role as the second tight end.
Having two pass-catching weapons at the tight end position will provide match-up nightmares for opposing defenses over the next two seasons. Factor in Miami's speed on the perimeter with guys like Phillip Dorsett and Herb Waters and it has a chance to really open up the offense.
With Miami having so much speed on the outside, a quarterback who throws an accurate deep ball, and a play-caller who loves taking shots down the field, things really open up down the middle of the field. Miami's November opponents designed their defenses around not getting beaten deep by the Canes. That enabled Walford to have a very productive finish to the season.
Now, you're talking about throwing another major weapon in the mix down the seam. That's going to create a lot of headaches for opposing defensive coordinators. It will give Stephen Morris another weapon in the passing game.
The Canes are going to sign a small class in 2013, with the total number expected to be around 17-18. However, it's hard to imagine the Canes will sign a player more capable of making such a big impact in 2013 than Beau Sandland.
It's also worth noting that Arizona State was clearly in the driver's seat to land him a few weeks ago. The Sun Devils showed they love getting their tight ends involved in their offense. They were a lot closer to home for Sandland and his family. When the tight end took his visit here a few weeks ago, he didn't know much about the program and, quite frankly, didn't have a whole lot of interest.
A great weekend visit changed all of that. Al Golden and Brennan Carroll did a great job of recruiting him, and changing his mind.
In the end, it's a great addition for the Hurricanes to its 2013 recruiting class.
With commitments now from Sandland, Dobard, and Jeremy Kerr, the Canes are likely finished at the tight end position with this year's recruiting class.