Canes Off to Hot Start

Barely two months after National Signing Day, the University of Miami is off to a hot start on the recruiting trail. They've landed some major commitments and appear to be well ahead of the game.

For years now, I've been saying that Randy Shannon is UM's best recruiter. When other assistant coaches were getting that title, it was Shannon who was doing the most recruiting damage.

I remember thinking to myself how much of an impact he could have if he ever became a head coach. Well, in January that became a reality. After a strong finish to last year's class, Shannon and his staff full of good recruiters have gotten off to a very fast start.

"Now as head coach, he's gonna get some players who in the past wouldn't have gone there," said incoming freshman wide receiver Leonard Hankerson."

This is my seventh year of providing recruiting coverage for the Hurricanes. While times have changed, the Hurricanes have never been this aggressive this early.

Over 20 players just from inside the state of Florida claim early scholarship offers from the Canes. Florida has been doing it that way ever since Ron Zook began building them into a powerhouse. Pete Carroll began that approach when he took the job at USC. Mack Brown's been doing it that way for years at Texas.

Lock 'em up early seems to be the way to go these days.

"They're trying to lock everyone up early on this year," said Miami Northwestern offensive lineman Brandon Washington, who committed to the Hurricanes in March. "I think one of the reasons why a lot of players from down here went to play other places is because UM just didn't show them enough love until it was too late. That's one thing with Coach Shannon, he makes sure you feel wanted and that's why they're getting so many guys."

Ely's Patrick Johnson, who will likely be a five-star prospect and someone who will be as heavily recruited as any player in the state, didn't feel like waiting.

"They wanted to get it done and I was all about that," he said. "I think this will be a great class because Coach Shannon is targeting all the top players from around here."

The Canes have gotten early commitments in recent years. Dave Howell was an early commitment and ended up quitting football. Emmitt Tatum was an early commitment and ended up inking with Florida A&M. QUarterbacks Pat Devlin and Nick Fanuzzi were early commitments and ended up inking with other programs.

While some may wonder about the status of this year's early commitments, these guys are rock solid.

"They've had players back out on them before," said Pahokee defensive tackle Micanor Regis. "I don't think that'll happen because they're getting guys who really want to come."

Thanks to an aggressive coaching staff full of excellent recruiters, the Hurricanes have done a tremendous job of identifying the top players from around the state. They're doing an excellent job of trying to build the fence around South Florida.

The month of May, used by college coaches to initiate phone calls and to visit the high schools of key prospects, will be huge for the out of state recruits. May is usually when you find out which kids are seriously interested and which ones aren't.

While there will certainly be some out of state recruits in this year's class and while some in-state players will wait until the very end to make their decisions, I have a feeling a few things are going to happen on the recruiting front this year.

One is that only the best of the best from outside Florida will even get a look and two, I wouldn't be surprised if most of this year's class is wrapped up by the end of summer.

Shannon and his coaches are putting a major emphasis on getting kids in front of them. Several key players made stops in to watch spring practice. Many key recruits were invited to watch the annual spring scrimmage.

"I saw so many recruits out there," said Chaminade linebacker Jordan Futch, who claims over 20 offers including one from the Hurricanes. "In the past, it seemed like Miami didn't show as much interest. Look how many players got away. Coach Shannon's from down here. He knows how important it is to recruit the top players from down here. It seems like everyone is responding."

The Hurricanes currently have five commitments -- Washington, Regis, Johnson, Palm Beach Lakes standout Jeremy Lewis, and Junior College All-American Justin Thompson.

Expect that number to grow quickly in the coming months and expect Shannon and co. to continue their recruiting excellence as we move forward.

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