Ones who got away: 4-star Trent Taylor committed to the Hurricanes last February, one of the first 2012 commitments for Al Golden and his staff. When the news broke about the Nevin Shapiro scandal, Taylor flipped his commitment to Tennessee and never re-considered the Canes. After Vernon announced he was leaving, the Canes made a strong push for Junior College All-American Denico Autry, who took an official visit to Miami. Unfortunately for the Canes, he inked with Mississippi State instead. The top prospect down the stretch in January was four-star Leonard Williams, who was all set to make an official visit to Miami with his family but a family illness put an end to that. He canceled the visit and ended up signing with USC.
Best part about this class: Getting Dwayne Hoilett in for the start of spring was key because it gives Miami a much needed body at the defensive end spot for spring drills. Jelani Hamilton and Tyriq McCord were recruited nationally and provide different styles. Hamilton is a strongside end who brings a lot of size and strength, while McCord is a pass-rushing specialist off the edge. O'Donnell (and Hoilett and Hamilton) was at one of Miami's summer camps back in June so the coaches were able to see him work and compete up close and personal.
Most concerning thing about this class: With just three defensive ends coming back, it would have been nice getting more than one of the four incoming players in time for spring football. Hamilton missed his entire senior season with a knee injury. Losing Taylor hurt because he was one of the state's premier defensive end prospects and enrolled for the spring semester at Tennessee.
On the field: Hamilton put his name on the recruiting map as a junior when he helped lead St. Thomas Aquinas to the state title game. He finished the year with 29 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and four sacks. His senior season ended very early due to a knee injury.
The recruiting process: Hamilton emerged as the top prospect at one of the state's premier schools following his junior season so he got a lot of recruiting attention in the spring. Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and several others joined Miami by offering scholarships to him at an early stage. Hamilton committed to Miami in late June and never wavered from that or took any other recruiting visits.
As a prospect: At 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, Hamilton was described by his St. Thomas coaches as one of the school's best ever defensive linemen. That's saying a lot, too, considering how many quality players the school has produced over the years. Hamilton knows the game very well. He already has ideal size and has enough strength to match up pretty well early in his career. If he's able to recover fully from his knee injury in time, he should be able to see time right away on Miami's defensive line.
On the field: Hoilett finished his junior season with 52 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and one fumble recovery as a senior while playing both defensive end and outside linebacker. He was a part-time starter as a junior.
The recruiting process: Hoilett started getting BCS level offers during the spring of his junior year. Rutgers, UConn, West Virginia, Minnesota, and Wake Forest were just some of them. He camped at Miami in June, earned an offer from the Canes, and committed a short time later. Following his summer commitment, Hoilett never wavered or visited any other schools.
As a prospect: At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Hoilett has a tremendous amount of athletic ability. He can run like a linebacker and change directions extremely well, too. By not being a full=-time starter as junior, Hoilett didn't get a lot of early recruiting attention. If he's able to add strength and weight, as expected, he should become a quality pass-rushing prospect down the road.
On the field: McCord was a pass-rushing specialist at Jefferson High in Tampa. He finished his junior season with 21 sacks, as he helped lead them to the state championship. As a senior, he had 59 tackles, 11.5 sacks, and three caused fumbles. Following the season he played in the U.S. Army All-American Game.
The recruiting process: McCord landed several major scholarship offers, including one from Miami, in the spring of his junior year. He was recruited nationally and took other recruiting visits to Georgia and South Carolina before making his commitment to the Hurricanes at the US Army Game on January 7. He later visited USC but remained strong with his pledge to the Canes.
As a prospect: He was one of the state's premier pass rushers in the 2012 class. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, McCord has a tremendous combination of size and athleticism. He can really run. He's similar in size to Hoilett but brings even more athletic ability and pass-rushing skills to the table. He was recruited nationally for a reason and brings a lot to the table as a prospect.
On the field: O'Donnell finished his senior season at Central Bucks West High in Pennsylvania with 40 tackles and 4.5 sacks. As a junior, he had 43 tackles and four sacks.
The recruiting process: O'Donnell started getting recruited by Golden and his staff when they were at Temple. He had an early offer from them, Syracuse, and West Virginia. He camped at Miami in June, earned an offer from the Canes, and committed a short time later. He never wavered on that commitment or took any other visits.
As a prospect: O'Donnell already has ideal size at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. He plays with a good motor and makes a lot of plays because of how much he hustles on the field. He has the frame and work ethic to continue getting a lot bigger and should make a solid strongside defensive end prospect down the road.
Looking Ahead: The Hurricanes have already sent out several scholarship offers to 2013 prospects at the defensive end position. Three in-state prospects with early offers are STA's Joey Bosa (6-4/250), Tampa Hillsborough's Jordan Sherit (6-3/230), and Jacksonville Sandalwood's Demarcus Walker (6-4/250). Sherit has already been to Junior Day and has a great relationship with Chickillo and incoming defensive tackle Earl Moore. A few national prospects already have offers, too, such as Garrett Sickles (6-4/230) and Alquadin Muhammad (6-3/230) from the state of New Jersey.