2012 Class Analysis: Linebackers

The Hurricanes had a need at linebacker and they filled it nicely by signing four in the 2012 class. Lets take a closer look at that group.

Coming Back: The Hurricanes return six linebackers from the 2011 roster -- senior Ramon Buchanan (107 career tackles); juniors Jimmy Gaines (59) and Kelvin Cain (32); sophomores Denzel Perryman (69) and Gionni Paul (4); and redshirt freshman Eddie Johnson. Buchanan is a multi-year starter and should compete for All-ACC honors in 2012. Gaines will likely be the man in the middle, while Perryman was one of the best young freshman linebackers in all of college football. Cain, Paul, and Johnson will likely be the backups.

Ones who got away: Keith Brown committed to the Hurricanes midway through his junior season. However, the 4-star local standout switched his pledge to Louisville in January. There, he'll be able to play with his brother (Lamar Atkins, who was never recruited by Miami). Reggie Northrup committed to Miami over the summer but switched his pledge to Florida State on National Signing Day. Five-star Josh Harvey-Clemons visited Miami late in the process but decided to stay home and sign with the Georgia Bulldogs.

Best part about this class: This is a very athletic group. Raphael Kirby and Josh Witt are considered top notch athletes who can really run. Gabriel Terry is a state champion caliber wrestler. Getting Kirby away from SEC country was huge. Kirby and Witt both enrolled for the spring semester, which was very important.

Most concerning thing about this class: With the exception of Terry, all the linebackers are under 6-foot-1 and that's a minor concern -- especially considering two of the three from the 2012 class are under 6-feet. Two one-time commitments here ended up elsewhere at a time when the Canes were still recruiting both (although Brown to Louisville was expected because of his brother and Northrup to FSU because of the long history they have at First Coast High in Jacksonville).

Jawand Blue
On the field: Blue had over 100 tackles as a junior at West Boca High and was a first team all-county selection as a senior, despite missing a few games.

The recruiting process: Blue landed spring offers from schools like West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Minnesota, and South Florida before making a commitment to the Hokies. He remained pledged there until National Signing Day. The Hurricanes offered on that day and he inked with the Canes without ever taking an official visit to the school.

As a prospect: Blue has tremendous football instincts. He is always around the football. He plays faster than his 40 time would indicate because of those things. He understands the game very well and is a lot like Sean Spence in that regard. He does, however, lack ideal size and speed. At 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, Blue runs in the 4.7 range. Still, he was very active in high school and brings a lot to the table as a prospect because of his ability to get to the ball.

Raphael Kirby
On the field: Kirby put his name on the recruiting map as a junior, when he had 118 tackles and 18 for loss. As a senior, he had 121 tackles, 23 for loss, and 18.5 sacks. He played in the US Army All-American Game in January.

The recruiting process: Kirby was recruited nationally in the spring of his junior year. He had scholarship offers from programs like Georgia, Florida, Clemson, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He committed to the Canes in May and never took any other official visits.

As a prospect: At 6-feet and 215 pounds, Kirby lacks ideal size but he's a tremendous athlete and he plays with pretty good instincts. He can run with just about anyone and is an explosive tackler when he gets there. He's a kid who can be a three-down linebacker and those are just a few of the reasons why he was recruited nationally. He's considered the best prospect of the four.

Gabriel Terry
On the field: Terry played his junior season in Nebraska before transferring to Palm Beach Central High for his senior year. He finished this past season with 58 tackles and six sacks while playing mostly defensive end. He was the MVP of the Nike all-star football game in south Florida after the season, registering 2.5 sacks and a blocked punt.

The recruiting process: Terry was lightly recruited and didn't have any other BCS offers when he committed to the Canes in November. A lot of that is due to him coming from the state of Nebraska and he didn't attend any camps or combines during the offseason down here. He never visited any other schools after his Miami commitment.

As a prospect: Playing mostly off the edge and rushing the passer, Terry is the biggest linebacker of the four at 6-foot-2 plus and 210 pounds. He's long and lean and really fires off the ball. The size and athletic ability and toughness are there and you just hope that he'll be able to make the smooth transition to playing in space a lot at the college level.

Josh Witt
On the field: Witt led a very good Cypress Bay defense with 108 tackles, 14 sacks, and eight caused fumbles. He played on the edge, in coverage, and did many things for them.

The recruiting process: Witt landed scholarship offers from schools like West Virginia and Minnesota in the spring before getting offered by Miami following one of their summer camps in June. He committed right away, never wavered, and never took any other visits.

As a prospect: At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Witt has a tremendous amount of speed and athleticism. He dropped into coverage a lot in high school and was able to match up with just about anyone at that level. He also showed the ability to make a lot of plays in the box. He knows the game very well, he carries a tremendous work ethic, and has a lot of the physical tools you look for in a major college linebacker prospect.

Looking Ahead: After signing seven linebackers in the last two classes, linebacker won't be a huge need for the 2013 class. The Canes will likely want to sign a couple premier players though. The most targeted player might end up being Booker T's Matthew Thomas, a 6-4/215 outside 'backer with a tremendous amount of ability. The Canes, along with many others, have already offered. The Canes have also offered guys like Daniel McMillan (a teammate of Northrup, who is already committed to Florida) and Reuben Foster (a five-star prospect from Georgia, who is already committed to Alabama).


Canes Time Top Stories