January Recruiting Update: LB's

National Signing Day is less than a month away and the Hurricanes are hoping to finish strong with their 2013 recruiting class. Lets take a closer look at where the Canes stand at the linebacker position.

The Hurricanes played with nine linebackers to start the 2012 season. One (Ramon Buchanan) missed most of the season due to injury. Another (Jawand Blue) redshirted, while several others missed time due to injuries or suspension.

The Hurricanes lose Buchanan to graduation, and Gionni Paul is no longer a part of the team. That means the Hurricanes return just seven linebackers to the 2013 roster. An upgrade is necessary, both in quality and quantity.

Alex Figueroa committed to the Hurricanes following a weekend visit to the school last month, and has already enrolled in school. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Figueroa was a prep school player who will be able to go through spring football with the team. He was lightly recruited, but a player the coaches seem to really like considering the timing of his scholarship offer. Getting him in for the spring semester was a bonus, too.

The top remaining target appears to be five-star Matthew Thomas. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, the Booker T. Washington standout helped lead his team to a state championship on the field this season. He's an elite level athlete who is well coached, and likely ready to step onto the field early in his career and make an impact. Thomas visited Alabama last week, and the Tide seems like the top competition for Miami. He also plans to see Florida State, USC, and Georgia before making a final decision.

Another local player to keep a close eye on is Miramar's Jermaine Grace. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Grace is very fast and athletic, and made a lot of plays as a senior. Miami offered him very early, and he's been favoring the Canes from day one. He plans to take visits to schools like Tennessee, Louisville, and Texas A&M before making a final decision. Miami seems to be in great shape here, though.

Even if the Hurricanes are able to sign all three of the players mentioned above, which is very possible, don't be surprised if a fourth linebacker stays in the mix. The most likely option for that fourth spot right now appears to be Yannick Ngakoue. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Ngakoue is a three-star player from the Washington, DC area. He visited Florida State last weekend, and is set to see South Carolina this weekend. He's a one-time Maryland commitment. He's scheduled to see Miami next weekend, but there's a good chance he'll make a commitment sometime next week and not even make his scheduled visit to Miami. In other words, he's a longshot.

The Hurricanes have been recruiting five-star Reuben Foster throughout the year, and he's talked about taking a late visit here. The one-time Alabama and Auburn commit is looking at those two schools along with Washington, LSU, and Miami. A visit has not yet been set, and landing him will be extremely difficult for the Canes.

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