Job Well Done

After firing four of his assistants after the Peach Bowl, UM head coach Larry Coker knew that recruiting with just half his coaching staff in place wasn't going to be easy.

Instead of going into a panic and bringing in guys without doing all of his homework, Coker gave recruiting duties to associate athletic director Pete Garcia and strength & conditioning coach Andreu Swasey. For the final 30 days of this recruiting season, UM was playing with one hand tied behind its back.

The result?

From top to bottom, this is an outstanding recruiting class. The only commitment prior to the Peach Bowl who didn't sign with the Canes on Wednesday is Pat Devlin, who committed to Penn State because of what many believe to be the releasing of Dan Werner. However, it's my understanding that he took a couple other trips to Penn State prior to Werner's release. Therefore, I think Devlin going to Penn State is because of many other reasons than Dan Werner not being here.

So if you're keeping track, the coaches did an outstanding job of keeping the entire recruiting class together. Assistant coaches Mario Cristobal, Curtis Johnson, and Tim Walton were a major reason for that.

Cristobal, UM's ace recruiter, seemed to be involved with nearly every kid at some point in the process. Whether it was C.J. Spiller, who was previously recruited by Don Soldinger, or Ian Symonette, who picked UM over LSU at the end of the month, Cristobal was all over the place.

"I really like Coach Cristobal," said offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, who picked UM over Florida State and Florida at the final hour. "He has a lot of energy and he's real passionate about football and UM."

Shannon seemed to be in on nearly every defensive recruit in this class. When Vernon Hargreaves was fired, gone was Colin McCarthy's main recruiter for most of the year. It didn't matter, as Shannon finished the job with what is one of UM's top recruits.

Coker is involved with recruiting all the kids. Whether it's a weekly phone call or an in-home visit after the season, he was directly involved with every kid in this class. His relationship with the players is often overlooked.

"Me and Coach Coker and real tight," said Ryan Hill, who many consider the top defensive recruit in this class. "He jokes around a lot and know hows to keep things loose. But he gets serious when he has to. All the players talk about how much they like playing for him. Everyone likes him and that's important to recruits."

So while UM may have been short-handed in regards to numbers, the coaches busted their tails to get things done. They did a tremendous job of keeping the class together and then went out and landed Daniel Stegall (who was recruited by new UM coach Todd Berry), Graig Cooper, Kylan Robinson, George Robinson, Symonette, Franklin, Joel Figueroa, and McCarthy after the four other coaches were let go.

Regardless of how this class ranks in the eyes of the experts and regardless of which kids got away and regardless of whether or not UM met their needs accordingly, one thing's for sure -- nobody can knock the efforts of these guys and the excellent job they did in the final month of this recruiting season. It doesn't happen like that often and these guys deserve major credit for a job well done.


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