With only about a half dozen scholarship offers given to defensive ends this past recruiting season, it didn't seem like Miami made it a priority. They ended up signing one.
R.J. Washington and Corey Liuget were claiming offers back on National Signing Day of last year. Washington, however, made a February commitment to Oklahoma and never considered the Canes after that. Those appeared to be the only two offers out to defensive ends heading into the May evaluation period last year.
Chancey Aghayere (LSU) said Miami offered him in April but he never considered the Canes much. Just a couple days after Toby Jackson told Scout.com on May 16 that Miami was his favorite team growing up, the Canes sent him an offer. That made three offers. Meanwhile, at least three others had emerged (but didn't have offers) -- Andrew Smith, Jeremy Longo, and Nicholas Perry. During the first month of June, Smith had a strong performance at Miami's camp but still had no offer. Longo took an unofficial visit to Miami and left without an offer. A few days later, he committed to Georgia. Jackson committed to Georgia on June 3.
So heading into the start of the season, there appeared to be four main targets at defensive end -- Liuget, Perry, and Smith. Smith received an offer a few games into his senior season and committed on the spot. He said his other offers at the time were from Troy, Indiana, Western Michigan, and FAU. He was one of the least heavily recruited players in this year's class.
The Canes continued recruiting Jackson and the three mentioned above. In addition, other names were starting to emerge. Junior College standout Markus White was having an outstanding season and Miami started recruiting him. Milford Prep standout Mikhail Marinovich was starting to get recruited by Miami as well. Perry, meanwhile, was having a record-setting season in Detroit so the Canes offered him late in the season. Booker T's Jonathan Jackson, fresh off a state title game in which he had three sacks, was now appearing on the radar as well. Unfortunately, Liuget made a commitment to Illinois following an official visit there in October. Miami kept recruiting him.
So heading into the offseason, it looked like the Canes had seven main targets at defensive end -- Smith (a strong commitment who never took any other visits) Liuget (an Illinois commitment), Perry, T. Jackson (a Georgia commitment), White (who originally signed with Rutgers out of high school), Marinovich (who didn't have an offer), and J. Jackson (no offer). Marinovich and Toby Jackson both visited Miami in mid December -- Marinovich left without an offer and committed to Syracuse a short time later while Jackson seemed to have more interest in Miami than ever before. Meanwhile, White committed to Florida State in early December and eliminated Miami from consideration.
Following an excellent performance in one of the national all-star games in Miami, Keith Wells began hearing from Miami in early January. He didn't land an offer and was never asked to visit, he told CanesTime.com. In addition, T. Jackson had eliminated Miami and was focusing on SEC schools. J. Jackson still had no offer from Miami, while Liuget still didn't have a visit scheduled to Miami.
By February 1, Smith was still committed and it looked like the Canes still had three others still on the radar -- Liuget, Perry, and Jackson. Jackson never ended up getting offered and signed with FIU. Perry visited the last weekend but announced for USC on National Signing Day. The toughest part, however, was not landing Liuget. He was a priority from day one from a Dade County school and never even took an official visit to Miami. Smith signed with Miami as the only defensive end in this year's class so you can be sure defensive end will be a priority next year.
The Hurricanes needed defensive tackles badly in this year's class and they landed three of them. It looks, however, as though they wanted more.
The biggest priority from day one was Marcus Forston. He was a local player who established himself as one of the state's premier players as a junior. He claimed an offer from Miami during his junior season, as did Micanor Regis. Regis committed to Miami in March and never considered or visited anyone else. He claimed over 30 offers at the time, including Florida State, Florida, Clemson, and South Carolina.
Jeremy Lewis landed an offer from Miami in late February and committed a little over a month later. He had offers from Florida, Tennessee, LSU, North Carolina, and several others. Knowing Forston was still uncommitted, the Canes weren't done there. They offered and landed a commitment from five-star Juco All-American Justin Thompson in early April.
So heading into the May evaluation period, the Canes had commitments from three defensive tackles and they were expecting to land a fourth in Forston. That didn't stop them from finding others. Brandon Thompson claimed to have received an offer from the Canes in May and Moses McCray said he was starting to talk to the Canes, but didn't have an offer.
The commitment list changed twice during the summer. Forston (who was as heavily recruited as any other defensive tackle prospect in the entire country) committed on July 26 and was firm with it -- he never considered or visited anyone else after that. Meanwhile, Thompson backed off his commitment to Miami. He told CanesTime later that other schools were recruiting him a lot harder, which is a pretty good indication that Miami backed off him (due to grades). Brandon Thompson took an unofficial visit to Miami over the summer but soon eliminated the Canes from consideration.
So heading into the season, the Canes had commitments from Forston, Regis, and Lewis. They weren't done. They continued recruiting McCray into the season but later stopped. He ended up signing with Florida State. With Thompson no longer in the mix as a Juco transfer, they looked at a few other options -- Alex Ford and Terrance Cody. Both players were briefly recruited by Miami but they weren't offered by the Canes and neither of them visited Miami.
By the time January rolled around, one of the three commitments was considered a soft one and one was already enrolled in school. Forston started school in January, while Lewis was taking all of his other visits (he took visits to Florida, Tennessee, LSU, and UNC in addition to Miami). The Canes didn't bring in any other DT prospects for visits in January and Lewis ended up honoring his commitment in the end. The Canes finished with three defensive tackles -- all of whom had offer sheets that were extremely impressive.