Grading the Class: Offense

The Hurricanes signed 28 players yesterday and so it's time to take a closer look at how well they did. Instead of trying to evaluate the recruits, lets take another approach. Lets see how the Canes did at each position, based on who was recruited and when, to see how well the coaches did.

Five-star, two-star, whatever. Lets throw those out the window for right now since we don't know how the kids were rated by the coaching staff.

We do know, however, when the kids were offered scholarships. We do know, for the most part, how many players at each position were targeted. We do know who some of the key misses were.

Using that information lets break things down, by position, starting on the offensive side of the ball.

Quarterbacks: C
When the recruiting period started last year the Canes had four quarterbacks on scholarship. Jacory Harris seemed to be the man of the future. Taylor Cook and Cannon Smith were backups. And A.J. Highsmith had just signed but was already being talked about as a future safety. That's why the Canes began last recruiting season with the idea of signing one top flight quarterback.

New offensive coordinator Mark Whipple and the coaching staff went searching for that guy. Jake Heaps (BYU), Scout's top-rated prospect at the position, was offered early on. Blake Bell (Oklahoma) was offered early on and so were Dallas Lloyd (Stanford), A.J. Derby (Iowa), Andrew Hendrix (Notre Dame), and Joe Brennan (Wisconsin).

When several of those kids decided to go elsewhere, the Canes turned to their top local prospects in Stephen Morris. He was offered in August and committed a short time later. Once he committed, the recruiting of quarterbacks stopped -- even after Smith and Cook transferred right before the season started.

The Canes needed one and got what appears to be a Plan B kid based on the timing of the offers at the position. The first Plan B kid offered, however, accepted the offer. And Miami was his best offer. Randy Shannon mentioned how Jacory Harris being such a young starting quarterback may have hurt some but that didn't seem to negatively impact schools like Oklahoma and Stanford from getting elite players at the position. It's also a positive that Morris was able to enroll early for the spring semester.

Running Backs: B
The Canes signed two good ones last year and had five guys returning for next season before factoring in the recruits this year.

Eduardo Clements is a local product and was offered way back during the first part of his junior season. Obviously, he was made a priority by the UM coaches from day one and they were able to get him. Darion Hall, who grew up an FSU fan and was offered by the Noles early in the process, also signed and it appears he was the second most heavily recruited running back in the state by the Canes this year. However you want to slice it, the Canes got the two running backs they seemingly wanted most from inside Florida this year.

Several out of state running backs were offered early on, including Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina), Mack Brown (Florida), and Jordon James (UCLA). None of those kids showed any interest and the Canes, still looking for a third back, decided to offer Storm Johnson midway through his senior season. He accepted the offer not long after and became the third back in this class.

While the Canes got the two backs in-state they wanted most, they weren't able to land an elite out-of-state kid (early offer) but they did land a quality back (midway offer) to join the mix.

Fullbacks: A
With just two fullbacks on the roster at the beginning of this past recruiting season, the Canes seemingly had to sign one. Maurice Hagens was offered during the spring and committed over the summer, fulfilling that need. He's a big, strong, athletic kid who ran for over 1,500 yards two straight seasons in Tampa.

Wide Receivers: C
While the Canes weren't going to be losing any receivers after the 2009 season, they recruited like they wanted to sign a couple. That could be since they didn't sign anyone at the position last year. Based on the number of early offers that went out and the fact that they still actively recruited and visited others, even after they landed a summer commitment from one, the Canes appeared to want at least two.

Allen Hurns is the only one they signed and he was a summer offer, following his performance at their summer camp. A local product, Hurns signed with his dream school so it probably didn't take much to convince him to be a Cane.

A lot of high profile kids were offered very early in the process -- Kyle Prater (USC), Christian Green (FSU), Chris Dunkley (Florida), Kenny Stills (USC), Ivan McCartney (West Virginia), Kadron Boone (LSU), James Louis (Ohio State), Quinton Dunbar (Florida), Shawn Corker (Texas Tech) -- but all signed elsewhere.

Dunbar actually committed to Miami in the spribg but when he opened his recruitment back up the Canes seemingly went in another direction and stopped recruiting him. One of Michaelee Harris' (Louisville) coaches told me he would likely have picked Miami but his grades were a little low. Quadarias Mireles (Ole Miss) is a local product offered by Miami at the end of the season but was later dropped by the Canes because of his academic situation.

McCartney was the most likely of the group to come here but in the end he chose to leave town. He's not yet qualified.

Getting someone you offered before his senior season and someone who was able to enroll for the spring semester (Hurns) is a big plus. Not getting a second receiver that Miami seemingly wanted is a nagative. The biggest surprise, perhaps, was the fact that Miami was only able to convince two of the early offer kids to visit here (Hurns and McCartney).

Tight Ends: C-
One of Miami's biggest recruiting needs going into the process, the Canes were set to return just one (true freshman Billy Sanders) to next year's roster and signed just one in last year's class. Senior Richard Gordon ended up getting redshirted, which added another roster spot for next season. Getting three or four seemed like an ideal number and that's what Miami did, including a Juco prospect. They did a nice job addressing the number.

Many of the nation's most heavily recruited tight ends were offered early on by the Canes -- Gerald Christian (Florida), C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa), Kevin Haplea (Penn State), and Brian Vogler (Georgia). None of those kids showed much interest and all ended up elsewhere.

The first action of the year at tight end came in the early summer when local product Clive Walford was offered. He was new to the game and was lightly recruited when he committed to the Canes. Walford, who received the earliest offer of the four who signed, landed an offer when the elite guys (early offers) were showing no interest. Andrew Tallman was the next to get an offer, which came in mid-summer and he committed in the early part of the season.

With two commitments in the early part of the season, the Canes seemingly wanted more. Chase Ford went out and had a very strong season in the Juco ranks and was offered towards the end of the season. He was a late offer because he was an unknown early in the process and the Canes needed to dip into the Juco ranks.

With three in the mix at the end of the season, the Canes still wanted more. They went to California to target two players -- Christian Thomas (USC) and Asante Cleveland. They decided to pursue Cleveland strong and the one-time Washington State commitment, whose fathed played in the NFL, picked the Canes on Wednesday.

They signed four, which was good. Two got midpoint offers (Walford and Tallman) and two got late-season offers (Ford and Cleveland). None of the four were heavily recruited by a whole lot of other BCS programs, however, and none of the four were able to enroll for the spring semester which seemed like something that would have been a major priority the entire recruiting season.

Offensive Linemen: A-
The Canes are set to return 11 offensive linemen in 2010 and lost three to graduation. Even after signing five in last year's class, the Canes made this position a major priority right from the beginning and did a nice job filling the spots with quality players.

Brandon Linder appears to be the biggest catch, as he received the earliest offer of the six who signed and was the most heavily recruited by other programs. Malcolm Bunche, who started school already, is a kickback from last year's class, after he spent a season at a prep school. Shane McDermott, who was offered in the spring, has already started school.

Jonathan Feliciano, Tavadis Glenn, and Jermaine Barton were all offered by the Canes in the spring so they were key prospects for Jeff Stoutland's unit.

While the Canes landed six players who they made early offers to and two of them are already enrolled in school, they did seem to want to sign one more top flight prospect. Seantrel Henderson (USC) and Shon Coleman (Auburn) both took official visits even after the Canes had six commitments. Others, like Arie Kouandijo (Alabama), were still being recruited late in the process as well.

The numbers are there. The quality (early offered kids) seems to be there. The diversity (centers, guards, and tackles) is there. Not being able to pull in another elite kid latel however, brings the grade down just a slight bit.

What are your thoughts? How do you grade this year's class? Talk about it on the PREMIUM RECRUITING BOARD.


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