Here are the latest confirmed signees for the 2004 football recruiting class. We will update this list as we confirm new papers have been received. Confirmed signees include Willie Williams, Bobby Washington, Lance Leggett, Andrew Johnson, Dwayne Hendricks and Charlie Jones among others. Last update: <b>1:50 pm.</b>
CanesTime's take are insights provided by our Recruiting Editor Mike Bakas who has followed all of these prospects from the beginning of their recruitment to Miami.
CanesTime's Take: When I began reviewing film of some of the top out of state prospects way back in the spring, Anderson is one that really stood out. At 6-3 and 260 pounds, he had the look of a big time defensive line prospect. The first thing you look for is the quick first step and the ability to create penetration in the backfield. Anderson's good at that. He has amazingly quick feet for someone his size and his long arms will really help him – especially if he eventually makes the move inside. He's still learning and his best days are clearly ahead of him.
CanesTime's Take: Every year it seems like UM offensive line coach Art Kehoe can go into other parts of the country and find hidden gems. This year it was Strongsville, Ohio's Josh Kerr. He's not as big as some say (measured at 6-3 1/2 and 260 on his visit to UM). Here's a kid that plays with tremendous balance and toughness. He played with a concussion one night and can nearly stand on a medicine ball during strength training. Kerr has quick feet and brings a lot of athletic ability to the position. Can play guard or tackle at the college level.
CanesTime's Take: At 6-foot-7, Campbell is clearly one of the tallest kids UM has recruited in the last couple years. It doesn't stop there. He averages 27 points per game in basketball and was an all-state performer on the football field as a senior. He is Colorado's all-time sack leader on defense and is a nightmare to cover while playing offense – especially when inside the red zone. Campbell will need a year or two to bulk up but he has everything you look for in a prospect and the Hurricanes have to be very excited about his upside.
CanesTime's Take: A four-year starter at one of the state's most successful prep programs, Ponder broke onto the national scene in the spring of his junior year. He has tremendous football IQ. He's a tremendous athlete that also participates in varsity basketball and track. After losing Willie Williams from last year's team, Pace's defense looked for a leader so they turned to Ponder. The result? Ponder and his defensive cohorts helped lead the Spartans to the Class 3A state championship. Mo Sikes is a former Pace standout that enjoyed a nice career at UM and Ponder's following in those footsteps.
CanesTime's Take: Whenever the University of Miami goes outside the state of Florida to recruit a defensive back it generally puts up a flag indicating how much they really like the kid. An even bigger flag comes up when those out of state skilled players get offered scholarships at a time when the Canes are still involved with many of the state's top prospects in Florida. Kenny Ingram was available, SirDarean Adams was out there for the taking, Trevor Ford, and the list goes on and on. Armour is a tall, physical kid with a build similar to Mike Rumph's at that age. Hopefully for UM fans, he'll be the type of player Rumph was here.
CanesTime's Take: A lot of kids fly under the radar for whatever reasons every year and Rutledge was one of them this year – primarily because it was just his second year of playing organized football. I first saw him at the NIKE Camp at UM during the spring when he impressed the O-Line coaches with his smarts and quick feet. I saw him again at UM's camp and I knew he had the attitude needed when he fought back after getting hit in the nose. He was outstanding as a senior. He has the 90+-inch wingspan, the footwork, and the mental toughness to develop into a Bryant McKinnie type of player at UM.
CanesTime's Take: A sleeper from the state of Georgia, Hill comes from one of the most successful programs in that state. He was a major reason why his team won the state championship this past season. A first team all state pick as a tight end, Hill caught two touchdown passes in the state game and made people believe that he's one of the state's best prospects. He's got a body that has a lot of room to fill out. He's a gamer, a mentally tough kid that's willing to compete with the best.
CanesTime's Take: Every year there seems to be a few kids that can play a number of positions with the best of them. Timmons is one of those kids this year. He's lined up at running back, wide receiver, defensive back, and on special teams throughout his career at Columbia High in Lake City. With tremendous speed and natural athletic ability, Timmons has a big upside. He often got overshadowed by teammate Rashaun Jones and may not have the instincts like Jones, but you'll have a hard time finding a better all-around athlete than Timmons anywhere in the state this year.
CanesTime's Take: Coming off an impressive junior season at Columbia, Jones was widely regarded as one of the state's top players. He had outstanding performances against some of the state's top seniors in 2002, including Lincoln's Antonio Cromartie. Then over the summer of his senior season, he went to Miami's camp and lined up against national recruits such as Lavelle Hawkins and Early Doucet. The result? Jones proved why he's one of the state's best. After a big senior year at Columbia, Jones ended the recruiting process by picking the Hurricanes.
CanesTime's Take: Another example of how important the summer camps can be every year is the story of Tyrone Byrd. The talented offensive lineman from Texas didn't even hear from UM during the spring of his junior year. He wanted to change that so he showed up for camp and after impressing the UM coaches for three days, he returned to Texas and received an offer from the Hurricanes a short time later. At 6-5 and 255 pounds, he can run like a tight end. He'll need to spend the first couple years in the weight room bulking up but Byrd's very agile and can play guard or tackle at the college level.
CanesTime's Take: In the summer of 2001, the University of Miami summer camp was loaded with good linebackers. Among them were Central's Ali Highsmith and Northwestern's Leo Waiters – both of who would later sign with the Hurricanes. However, the best one on the field that week may have been rising junior James Bryant. Two seasons later, Bryant's one of the best in the entire country. He's close to 240 pounds and can run laterally extremely well. He's a tough, competitive kid that should fit in very well here. He was clearly one of the best linebackers on the field at the Army All-American Game.
CanesTime's Take: The University of Miami has made a habit of recruiting quality defensive linemen from the state of Texas over the years. Damione Lewis enjoyed tremendous success during the late 90s and the Canes are hoping that Kellen Heard can have similar success. At 6-foot-6 and 350 pounds, Heard is huge. However, he's a tremendous athlete. He runs as well as any big man I've ever seen. He averages over 20 points per game in basketball. While some believe he may grow into an offensive tackle someday, he's one heck of a defensive player and has a tremendous attitude.
CanesTime's Take: A massive, two-gap run stuffing type of player. I hate making comparisons but he has a lot of Vince Wilfork in him. He doesn't have Vince's natural combination of rare strength and quickness but he's very comparable. Dixon dominated as a junior when he was around 300 pounds. He let his weight get up around 350 before the season before cutting back to around 320 during the season. He finished as a first team All-Dade pick. He's a big time run stuffer and moves like a 275-pound kid.
CanesTime's Take: One word – wow! I generally don't get too caught up in throwing out comparisons but if there's a Randy Moss look-alike at this age, it's Lance. At 6-4 and 180 pounds, he has everything you want in a wide receiver prospect. He's a 10.39 100m kid and kids that size aren't supposed to run that quickly. He's a big play kid who can dominate a game. Throw him a jump ball and forget about it. He can change the image of a game as well as any wide receiver I've ever seen. To this day, Andre Johnson's the best wide receiver prospect I've ever seen at that age. Lance Leggett is very close to being at that level. The sky's the limit. He's the type of player that, after spending four years with Curtis Johnson, can become a top five pick someday. He's that talented.
CanesTime's Take: A staple at the University of Miami over the last 20 years has been the ability to recruit players that aren't afraid of competition. Those are the guys that generally make the biggest impact. After getting early commitments from two of the nation's top backs – Jones and Washington – UM was facing an uphill battle finding a third kid to join the mix. Meet Derron Thomas, who doesn't concern himself with any of that type of stuff. Thomas is extremely explosive and has the ability to hit the home run every time he touches the ball. He's a tremendous pass catcher out of the backfield as well, having caught over 30 balls as a senior.
CanesTime's Take: I remember watching Killian's season opener last year against Central, which featured players like Bryan Pata and Ali Highsmith on its front seven. Washington, a junior at the time, had no running room. However, you could tell the way he fought and the way he competed and the way he continued running hard that he had something special. Pata and Highsmith both saw it too as they both believe Bobby's the best running back they've ever faced – Pata still believes that even after a year in college. Washington has all the tools. He's gone for over 1,500 yards for two straight years in Dade County. Although not quite as fast, Washington's running style compares favorably to that of Willis McGahee.
CanesTime's Take: Da Predator, as he was nicknamed after his junior year at Monsignor Pace High, has it all as a prospect. When I first saw Williams as a sophomore at Pace, I saw a kid playing defensive end that had everything you looked for in a prospect. Then as a junior, he played linebacker and had over 160 tackles before being named first team all state. After sitting out the first six games of his senior year at Carol City, the show was on. He completed his prep career with a dominating performance against Edgewater in the Class 6A state title game, where he broke the arm of Edgewater's starting quarterback on a nasty hit and tackle. He reminds me a lot of Lavar Arrington at this age and he certainly has the tools to become a big time player at the next level.
CanesTime's Take: One of the top defensive line prospects in the state of New Jersey, Hendricks is a kid that Greg Mark identified very early in the recruiting process as a priority. Hendricks is a kid that was high on UM all along. He made an unofficial visit to UM in September and confirmed his final decision in late January. Many people talk about this kid playing tackle but he's clearly an end prospect and has plenty of speed and quickness at 245 pounds. He was a factor in the All-American Game played in early January.
CanesTime's Take: Every year one major sleeper from south Florida emerges at the end of the season. Romeo Davis is that player this year. At 6-2 and 190 pounds, Davis had a decent junior year but nothing special. People said he was too light, people said he wasn't fast enough, etc. Then he showed up at UM's summer camp and blew away defensive coordinator Randy Shannon and the UM coaches with his toughness, athletic ability, and ability to make plays and be around the ball. He had a big senior year and became a full qualifier. Davis, who wrestles in the 189-pound weight class, is quite the athlete. The last linebacker UM signed who competed in that weight class was Ray Lewis.
CanesTime's Take: If there were a more complete running back prospect anywhere in the country, I'd love to see him. I first saw Jones as a sophomore at South Dade when he made people realize that he was soon going to become one of the state's best backs. Despite playing with a bum shoulder as a junior, Jones still hit the 1,500-yard mark and did so in impressive fashion. He looks a lot like Clinton Portis running the ball, the way he's able to make people miss and find holes when they don't seem to be there. Jones was banged up for most of his senior season but he's clearly a big time kid with a huge upside.
CanesTime's Take: A local product from Northwestern High School, Jones is the type of recruit that has separated UM from the rest of college football in recent years. Not real highly rated by all the magazines and web sites, Jones has what it takes. Here's a kid that came out to UM's camp on day two after he found out that some of the nation's best receivers were in town (Lavelle Hawkins, Early Doucet, Cameron Colvin, etc). He came out and proved he's capable of playing with the big dogs. Mental toughness and physical upside are his strengths.
CanesTime's Take: After not recruiting St. Thomas Aquinas High School for several years and watching players like Nate Salley (Ohio State) and Tony Brown (Tennessee) go away for college, the UM coaches changed their tune in recent years. Mark Gent, Anthony Wollschlager, and Tavares Gooden have inked with UM in recent years and now it's Reddick. At 6-1 and 190 pounds, he has the right physical makeup to be an in-your-face type of cornerback prospect. He's a big hitter with lots of athletic ability. Reddick projects as a free safety at the college level and is very comparable to current UM safety Greg Threat.
CanesTime's Take: As I think back to the summer of 2001, I remember watching a young running back that I thought was a senior at the time. He was very impressive and appeared to have some big time ability. As I found out later in the camp, it was a rising junior named Andrew Johnson. Two seasons later, Johnson has emerged as one of the nation's top running back prospects. One of the fastest players in the entire nation (10.4 100m), Johnson is a rock solid 200 pounds and has the ability to go between the tackles or make things happen in the open field.
CanesTime's Take: A former teammate of Baraka Atkins at Booker, Zellner played on both sides of the ball at the prep level. He doesn't have the same frame of Atkins but the motor and quickness coming off the ball are very similar. He has a lot of upside and projects as a defensive end at the college level. UM got in the mix midway through the year and when they reviewed his final senior tapes, they began getting all over him.
CanesTime's Take: While most of the talk in the central Florida area when it came to defensive linemen was surrounding Edgewater's Aaron Jones, who picked Florida State over Miami. However, Oak Ridge's Joe Joseph quietly put together one heck of a senior year. With a tremendous first step, Joseph is being brought in at UM to play tackle. He has the body to be close to 300 pounds some day and he is very raw. His best days are way ahead of him and he's clearly a kid to watch down the road.
CanesTime's Take: A massive offensive line prospect that comes from the same Junior College that sent Bryant McKinnie to UM a few years ago. McMeans didn't get a lot of recruiting attention out of high school and therefore joined the Marines. After a few years of training, he returned to school and started playing football. It didn't take him long to make a big impact. After two years of Juco ball, McMeans arrived at UM in late December to begin practicing with the team. He'll have three years to play two but the coaches are excited about him and he'll compete for playing time in the spring.
CanesTime's Take: A year after landing Kyle Wright, the nation's top prep quarterback prospect last year, the UM coaches were likely to have a tough time following up on that. It didn't take long. Freeman, a Texas product, was one of just two quarterbacks offered by the Hurricanes before the season. He came to UM's summer camp and worked out in front of the coaches for two days and that was enough. He left town and a day later got a scholarship offer. He's very accurate and is a tremendous leader. Like the teams Wright and Kenny Dorsey had in high school, all Freeman's teams do is win. That's what you want and that's what has UM coaches so excited.
CanesTime's Take: Like Kerr, St. Pierre is a talented offensive line prospect that Art Kehoe found when most other major Div. 1 programs couldn't. Every summer Kehoe works a summer camp held in Toronto and it features many of the best players north of the border. It's where he found players like Sherko Haji-Rasouli, Brett Romberg, and Joe McGrath in recent years. St. Pierre is a very smart and tough kid that is already enrolled into school. When I first spoke to him following his scholarship offer from the Hurricanes, he sounded like a little kid on Christmas. He'll come into the program knowing he's the underdog, he'll work really hard, and should develop into a very good player here under Kehoe.