Recruiting Review: Wide Receivers

A year after passing up wide receivers during recruiting season, the University of Miami needed to land a couple difference makers this year. Devin Hester and Darnell Jenkins were both true freshmen in 2003 but both had signed with UM in February of 02.

Therefore, it didn't take long for UM to target some of the nation's premier wide receiver prospects. The coaches went after some of the nation's best during the spring evaluation period. Fortunately, they were able to bring a lot of them in over the summer.

Early Doucet, Cameron Colvin, and Lavelle Hawkins were three out of state prospects that were getting recruited by everyone it seemed. All three made the trip for UM's summer camp in late June.

While Hawkins was very impressive, Colvin was honored with the camp's Top Receiver award, while Doucet was named the camp's MVP.

While it was nice getting some of the nation's top players into camp, UM also attracted some of the state's top local players.

I had a chance to watch Northwestern's Khalil Jones run through all the drills on the same field as Doucet, Colvin, and Hawkins. Physically, Jones had the best build. When it came to speaking up and wanting to separate himself from the rest of the pack during drills, Jones stood out. He didn't back down.

"I had heard about some of the best receivers from all over the nation being there," Jones said of his camp experience. "I knew I had to go out there and show them what's up. Guys from Miami seem to get disrespected a lot for whatever reason. We feel like we play the best high school football in the country here and I feel like I'm the best receiver around so I wanted to go out and prove to everyone there that I can play with any of those guys."

Jones did just that. Although he didn't get a scholarship offer until after the season, it eventually happened. At 6-2 and 210, Jones has an NFL body already. He runs really well for his size and can change directions really well. He uses his size to create mismatches with opposing cornerbacks and averaged over 20 yards a catch during his junior and senior years. He's still learning how to play the position and his best days are clearly ahead of him. Perhaps the thing I like most about him is the toughness he brings. The attitude that he can compete with anyone, as he showed during UM's camp, is something you can't teach.

Three other prospects on the national level showed strong interest in UM throughout the season and vica-versa. Fred Davis, Doug Dutch, and Xavier Carter all took recruiting trips to UM before choosing other programs.

The single most important wide receiver recruit this year was probably Bartow's Lance Leggett, who has spent the last two school years playing at a private school near Dallas. At 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, Leggett has everything you look for in a receiver prospect.

The talented receiver first took an unofficial visit to UM over the summer before returning for an official visit during the early part of the regular season. He went back and forth between Florida and Miami all season and actually committed to the Gators in late December before switching to Miami in time for signing day. It wasn't easy.

"To be honest, I don't know why I committed to Florida at first," Leggett said. "I think a big reason is because everyone thought I'd be going to Miami. I just wanted to be different and plus, I thought about playing together with Chris Leak and that's something I didn't want to pass up. Then as I started thinking and I stopped hearing about all the recruiting stuff, I started thinking that maybe I made the wrong choice. It wasn't too late to change."

The talented receiver spent the Holiday break at home in Bartow and that's when things began to change.

"I used to live in Sarasota for a little while so I went down there for a few days just to chill and see some old friends," he said. "While I was there, I ran into Baraka Atkins. Talking to him, I could just tell how much he enjoyed playing for Miami. When I got home that night, I thought about how I had always wanted to play for Miami when I was a little boy. That never changed, my head just got filled with some different stuff. That's when I changed my commitment to Miami."

The UM coaches are obviously excited for the change. Leggett has it all. I found that out when I took a trip to Dallas to watch him play live back in October. For someone his size, he runs exceptionally well. He's been timed at sub 10.4/100m before and is only going to get faster. He's as explosive as any receiver I've ever seen at that age and when the ball's in the air, it belongs to him. He brings the intangibles to the table too -- mental toughness, competitiveness, work ethic, everything. His best days are way ahead of him and I think he can truly become an Andre Johnson type player here someday.

Next Review -- Tight Ends

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