Grading the 2003 Recruiting Class

When Randy Shannon took over as head coach at the University of Miami last year, the overall talent level was way down compared to what this program is used to. What exactly happened since the championship season of 2001? Earlier this week we reviewed the Class of 2002 and today we look at the Class of 2003.

Quarterbacks: The Hurricanes identified Kyle Wright, who was's No. 2-rated quarterback prospect in America, very early in the process as the guy they wanted at quarterback. After having landed two California quarterbacks in recent years, including their starting quarterback at the time (Ken Dorsey) who was a Heisman candidate, they pulled out all the stops to land Wright. He took several unofficial visitd during the season before making a commitment to Miami around the start of the season. For whatever reason, Wright never lived up the hype at Miami. Personally, I think a lot of it had to do with having four different offensive coordinators in five years here. The reason I say that is because there wasn't much improvement from his first start at Florida State in 05 until the last at the end of the 2007 season. Still, he was a three-year starter who helped the Canes win some key games during his time here. While he may not have lived up to the hype, he was at least average during his UM career. Grade: C

Running Backs: The Canes needed a good one and they got the top player they targeted from day one -- Ely's Tyrone Moss, who broke several Broward County rushing records as a senior. Moss committed to the Hurricanes towards the end of the season and came in as a four-star recruit. After a promising start to his college career, he was up and down after that, struggling with injuries and his weight later in his career before getting passed on the depth chart by younger players. Grade: C

Wide Receivers: After signing four the year before, the Canes didn't make wide receiver a priority for the Class of 2003. They still tried landing one, however, it didn't work. Tampa Jefferson's Andre Caldwell was recruited heavily before inking with Florida (where his brother went), Dwayne Bowe was recruited for awhile before the Canes dropped him. Louisiana's Craig Davis actually committed to the Hurricanes briefly before swicthing his pledge to LSU. When the Canes didn't have any prospects late in the process, they briefly recruited Orlando's Mike Walker, who was a late prospect after an outstanding senior season at Edgewater High. He wasn't offered and inked with UCF instead. One thing's for sure -- the Canes targeted the right players in 03. Bowe had close to 1,000 yards in the NFL this season; Walker was a third-round draft choice; Davis became an NFL receiver; and Caldwell will likely get drafted this April. Unfortunately for Miami, they didn't have enough backup plans and failed to sign a receiver in a move that would ultimately hurt them down the road. Grade: D- (because of the excellent evaluations, which is half the recruiting battle, that were made)

Tight Ends: After signing two the year before but not getting the benefits at tight end from them (Eric Winston was switched to the offensive line and Curtis Justus was still injured), the Canes needed at least one and they got it in the form of Junior College transfer Kevin Everett, who had originally signed with Miami coming out of high school in Texas. However, the biggest news for the Canes came in August when Notre Dame's Greg Olsen decided to transfer after being in South Bend for just a short amount of time. Olsen transferred to Miami in August and ended up becoming a first round draft pick. Sure, he didn't sign with Miami out of high school but the Canes recruited him well enough to be his first choice after he left Notre Dame. Everett became a very solid tight end here and became an NFL tight end. Grade: A-

Offensive Linemen: After signing just two players here the year before, the Canes needed to load up. They signed four -- local players Andrew Bain and Cyrim Wimbs (who paved the way for Tyrone Moss's record-breaking season), Estero's Derrick Morse, and New Jersey's John Rochford, who was Miami's second commitment in the spring of his junior year. It seemed like a solid, yet unspectacular, group at the time. Wimbs was never a difference maker and never challenged for a starting spot. Bain started his last couple seasons and had a decent career. Rochford was the team's long snapper early in his career before becoming the team's starting center as a senior. Morse was the best of the bunch, becoming an All-ACC lineman at guard for the Canes. The Canes nearly missed on several players. Five star linemen Jordy Lipsey said Miami finished second to Virginia and Texas five-star Ofa Mohetau said the Canes finished second to BYU. Those two didn't have great college careers as their recruiting ranking would indicate but two players who came to Miami's camp and were very interested at one time did -- Notre Dame's Ryan Harris and Boston College's Gosder Cherilus. Harris is now in the NFL and Cherilus, who never got offered by the Hurricanes despite spending three days at camp, is projected to get drafted fairly well in April's draft. The Canes also brought in Arron Sears on the final recruiting weekend of the year for a visit but he inked with Tennessee instead and is now playing on Sundays. Grade: C

Defensive Linemen: The Canes signed five the year before and still needed to load up and that they did. Dave Howell was the first commitment in the Class of 2003, just days after National Signing Day in 2002. After a short time at Miami, he quit the team. The Canes also landed a commitment from the nation's top-rated defensive tackle prospect, New Jersey's Nate Robinson, who never showed up and was a non-factor as a college player at Akron. Local standouts Bryan Pata and Eric Moncur were also part of this class. Pata had a solid career before his life tragically ended. Moncur has had a solid career and will have a chance to showcase his skills to the NFL in 2008 for the Canes. The Canes actively recruited Louisiana teammates Kirston Pittman and Vegas Franklin, getting only Franklin, who had a solid senior season and a decent career. Defensive end Kevin Williams, who was offered after summer camp in 2002, was committed for most of the year but ended up going to Auburn, where he later quit. The Canes had Northwestern's Clifton Dickson committed until the last minute, when he switched his pledge to FSU. After being impressive there early in his career, he was kicked off the team. With Dickson's last-minute switch, the Canes ended up giving an offer to a 4th member of Ely's senior class, defensive tackle Teraz McCray, who ended up becoming the most productive player in this entire D-Line class. Evaluations weren't very good on the D-Line for the Class of 2003 and the production level wasn't real strong as a group. Grade: D+

Linebackers: It was a strong year for linebackers in South Florida and with no linebackers on the roster from the previous recruiting class, the Canes needed to load up. They landed Tavares Gooden from St. Thomas Aquinas, Ali Highsmith from Miami Central, Glenn Cook from Chaminade, and Leo Waiters from Northwestern. Waiters never stepped foot onto campus, nor did Highsmith, who some say will be a first round draft pick in April after a strong career at LSU. The Canes lost those two players due to grades. Gooden had a solid career and will likely get drafted late in April, while Cook is hoping to finally put together a strong season in 2008. The Canes battled neck-and-neck for Earl Everett, who inked with Florida and had a solid career there. Norland's Antwan Barnes wanted to play at Miami but was never offered. He's now playing in the NFL. With the losses of Highsmith and Waiters (and Nate Harris from the year before), that meant the Hurricanes had a total of two linebackers in their last two recruiting classes. Grade: D

Defensive Backs: After signing five cornerbacks in the previous class, landing one there wasn't a priority. Getting a couple safeties was, however, and the Canes did just that. Chaminade's Jon Beason and St. Augustine's Willie Cooper both inked with the Hurricanes after growing up Florida State fans. Cooper had a solid career on special teams but was never a regular starter for the Canes. Beason ended up playing linebacker for the Hurricanes, got picked in the first round of the draft, and was the second leading tackler this year among NFL rookies. LSU's Daryl Johnson was committed briefly before switching his pledge to LSU. Grade: B

Special Teams: The Canes wanted to recruit a punter and offered two of them -- Brian Monroe and Eric Wilbur. Wilbur signed with Florida and Monroe, who had an up-and-down college career, with Miami. Grade: C

Overall: The Canes landed their top target at quarterback and running back and those were the headliners. They signed 10 linemen -- seven of which became starters at Miami. There weren't a whole lot of recruiting misses -- especially in-state. Eight players from the previous class never enrolled or quit the team and that was a very high number. It was only four from this class (Howell, Robinson, Highsmith, and Waiters). Three of them are playing in the NFL (Everett, Olsen, and Beason) while two others are likely on their way (Moncur and Gooden while Pata was likely on his way as well). Still, from top to bottom, it's hard to have a case that this class was any more than above average at Miami, even though it was a little better from top to bottom than the 02 group. Grade: C+

Biggest Losses: There weren't many, actually. Sure, getting Earl Everett would have been nice but he was located closer to Gainesville anyway. None of the four players from South Florida who are now in the NFL (Highsmith, Bowe, Barnes, and Dillard defensive end Stanley McClover) can really be considered losses since three of them didn't have the grades to get into Miami and one had to be dropped from the recruiting board at the time for other reasons.

2003 Recruiting Class List

Grading the Class of 2002

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