Grading the Class: Defense

The Hurricanes signed 28 players last week 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, on the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive Ends: B
The Canes went into the 2009 season with eight defensive ends on the roster and only one of them was a senior so the target number was probably just one, maybe two if they were able to get the right kids.

Not a whole bunch of kids were offered early in the process. Five-star Corey Lemonier, a local standout, was offered as a junior. He never showed much interest, in the Canes, stating he wanted to get away from the Miami area for college. The next one offered was Michigan's William Gholston, who never showed much interest. Another Michigan product, C.J. Olaniyan, was offered in April but never showed much interest. The next local product offered was David Perry, who landed an offer from the Canes in the spring.

Unlike the other kids offered early, Perry grew up a Miami fan so he was considered the most likely of the group to commit to the Canes. He later did, during the early part of his senior season.

Georgia's T.J. Stripling was offered in early May and never showed much interest. A third local product, Booker T's Lynden Trail, was offered in May but as a tight end. He later confirmed that Miami didn't recruit him nearly as hard as Florida, the school he inked with last week.

At the time of Perry's commitment during the season, the Canes didn't seem to be in the mix for many other D-end prospects and seemed OK with getting only Perry.

They only needed one and they got one who they offered early in the process so that's considered a success. Not being able to get even a visit out of all those other kids wasn't good but I'm not sure how much of a priority it was anyway. However, it's never good when the No. 1 defensive lineman from Dade County, a kid who was offered as a junior, doesn't sign with you or even take an official visit to the school.

Defensive Tackles: D
The Canes went into the 2009 season with eight defensive tackles on the roster, with just one being a senior. They seemingly wanted to sign three more in this year's class.

Things got off to a great start at the position, as both Todd Chandler and Louis Nix committed to the Canes back in November of 2008. They were two of only a few players offered as a juniors and both planned to play for the Canes. At that point, Miami probably just needed to recruit the elite kids and hope to land possibly one more. Others with offers as juniors were Ego Ferguson and Jeffrey Whitaker. Both players stayed interested in Miami all the way until the end. Whitaker picked Auburn a few days before signing day, stating the Canes finished second. Ferguson signed with LSU on signing day, stating the Canes finished in the top 3.

At least four others were offered during the spring -- Shariff Floyd, Dominique Easley, Brandon Willis, and Michael Thornton. Floyd and Easley never showed much interest and ended up signing with Florida. Thornton showed some interest but never visited and later signed with Georgia. Willis took an official visit here but ended up signing with North Carolina.

Things started changing towards the end of the season at this position. The Canes stopped recruiting Chandler, who later signed with USF. Then Nix flipped his commitment to Notre Dame in late November. At that point, the Canes went on a nationwide search for top notch DT prospects who were still uncommitted.

Three kids they targeted first were Ronald Powell (Florida), George Uko (USC), and Bjoern Werner (Florida State). None of them showed much interest, however, and never visited.

With about a dozen DT prospects having been offered by December, the Canes didn't have any commitments and didn't appear to be in great shape with anyone. That's when they turned to a couple sleepers. Local product Delmar Taylor was offered in late December and committed soon after. Then Jeffrey Brown, a lightly recruited wrestling standout, was offered and committed to the Canes after visiting the school in late January.

Losing Chandler should not negatively impact their grade here since it was their decision. Losing Nix, however, meant the Canes lost one of their top targets from the beginning. That hurt. Only getting one (Willis) of the several DT prospects offered from the spring through the end of the season to take a visit here was not good either.

The Canes finished up by getting two very lightly recruited players at a position of need -- two players who were offered after their senior seasons finished.

Linebackers: B-
The Canes went into the 2009 season with nine linebackers on the roster with one being a senior. One of those nine (Kylan Robinson) had never played and another (C.J. Holton) was a recent convert from safety so there wasn't a whole lot of depth at the position. The Canes definitely made recruiting linebackers a priority this past recruiting season.

A few elite prospects were offered by the Canes during their junior seasons. Christian Jones and Jeff Luc were offered from in-state and players like Jordan Hicks (Texas) and Khari Fortt (Penn State) were offered out-of-state. Hicks and Fortt never showed much interest.

In February Tyrone Cornileus was offered out of the state of Georgia. He showed strong interest from the beginning and became an early commitment for the Canes.

Several other LB prospects were offered during the spring -- Kevin Nelson, Demetre Baker (Georgia), Josh Shirley (UCLA), Travis Williams, and Zach Allen (Wake Forest). The Canes were able to get all five on campus for some type of visit. Nelson committed over the summer, causing Luc (FSU) to look elsewhere.

Javarie Johnson was offered not long after Miami's summer camp and he committed to the Canes in the early part of the season. Miami went into the 2009 season with commitments from Nelson and Cornileus.

Williams and Johnson jumped on board during the middle part of the season. With four LB commitments, the Canes weren't done. They were still seriously chasing after Jones (FSU) and Shirley.

Johnson wasn't admitted for the spring semester at Miami in early January and therefore enrolled at Maryland instead. With that, Miami was down to three commitments and so they went out of state to offer a couple more. First was Kelvin Cain from California, who committed on the spot. Next was Jimmy Gaines from New York, who also committed on the spot. Both were very lightly recruited in their respective parts of the country.

With five LB commitments on board by late January, the Canes still wanted either Jones or Shirley. Jones decided to drop the Canes before taking a visit to the school, while Shirley visited but decided to stay home in the end and ink with the Bruins.

Getting three players who were offered early in the process, including one (Cornileus) who enrolled for spring, was a major plus. Not getting Jones or Shirley and instead signing two late offers hurts the grade some, however.

Cornerbacks: B+
The Canes entered the 2009 season with just five cornerbacks on the roster, two of which were seniors, so this position was a major priority.

Several players were offered around the same time during the spring, including all four kids who signed with the Canes -- Keion Payne, Devont'a Davis, Kacy Rodgers, and Jeremy Davis.

Some of the others who held early offers from Miami were Jaylen Watkins (Florida), Terrence Brooks (FSU), Terrence Mitchell (FSU), Tony Grimes (Ole Miss), Jonathan Mincey (Auburn), and Corey Brown (Ohio State). Grimes showed the most interest of that group but the Canes stopped recruiting him over the summer.

Davis was the first to commit, during the spring, before Rodgers did so over the summer. Right around the same time Rodgers committed, Raheam Buxton did the same. The Canes stopped recruiting the local standout, however, by the end of the season. By that time, the Canes had added commitments from Davis and Payne.

The Canes did a nice job filling the needs at the corner position and got four kids who had early offers. None of the four, however, were able to enroll for spring and none had offers from Miami before the spring.

Safeties: NA
The Canes went into the 2009 season with seven safeties on the roster and two of them were seniors. Signing one would be a plus but was never made a priority.

Matt Elam and Alec Ogletree, the nation's two top-rated players at the position, were offered during their junior seasons. Neither showed a whole lot of interest, however. Elam signed with Florida and Ogeltree with Georgia. Jon Dowling was offered in the early part of 2009 but never showed much interest and later signed with Florida.

With the elite safety prospects off the board, the Canes offered Greg Dent from Palm Beach County in the spring and then Jacksonville's Desmond Cooper in the early part of the summer. Cooper made a commitment to Wake Forest not long after that.

Dent actually committed to the Canes in the early part of the season but switched his pledge to FSU a short time later when the Noles offered.

After he was off the board, they never seemed to go after any other safety prospects.


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