Miami Football Recruiting: Al Golden Setting 'Canes Up To Survive

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 12: Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden looks on during a game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Al Golden is doing a great job keeping Miami afloat with all the limitations on the 'Canes' program.

Seventh Floor Blog, SB Nation's excellent Miami Hurricanes property, has stepped up its recruiting coverage recently. And for good reason, as Miami's recruiting has improved of late. Safety Deon Bush and edge rusher Tyriq McCord pledged to the Hurricanes on Saturday during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Both players had some impressive offers, and while there is thought that some of those offers were no longer valid because the teams extending them no longer had space, that they elected to offer them is impressive in and of itself.

Here are the Seventh Floor's thoughts on the pickups over the weekend. I should add that Jacoby Briscoe has the potential to be a stud. He has all the physical talent in the world, but has not consistently put it together. He did dominate in the state title game, however. Robert Lockhart really did Virginia Tech wrong after the Hokies stuck with him throughout his whole academic saga. But Virginia Tech's loss is Miami's gain over a division foe.

Average Star Ranking Among Top 15-Ranked Recruiting Classes
Team 247 Sports Scout.com
Alabama 92.12 3.7
Texas 91.42 3.72
Florida State 91.33 3.93
Florida 91.16 3.79
Oklahoma 91.05 3.56
Notre Dame 90.76 3.65
Michigan 90.21 3.63
LSU 90.1 3.52
Ohio State 89.63 3.74
Texas A&M 89.52 3.33
Clemson 88.25 3.4
South Carolina 87.61 3.17
California 86.68 3.5
Miami (Fl) 86.29 2.97

The Hurricanes currently have 31 commitments, which is inflating their recruiting class overall ranking to much higher than the true talent level.

Depending on the recruiting service, between 61 and 78 percent of Miami's recruits are rated three stars or fewer. That's way out of whack with what is seen with the other programs with a top recruiting classes.

According to Scout.com and 247Sports.com, Miami by far the lowest average star rating per prospect of any top-15 ranked class. (Note: Scout and 247 Sports used because Rivals.com was unavailable.)

Essentially, Miami's class is rated highly because of quantity, not quality.

But even though the talent level in Miami's class isn't that of an elite class, the 'Canes are still doing a good job.

The key to evaluating Miami's recruiting is to grade on a curve.

No, Miami is not competing with the likes of Florida and Florida State for the top in-state talent. But Miami has significant obstacles to overcome. Most notably, the enormous NCAA investigation involving booster Nevin Shapiro, concerning hundreds of thousands of dollars of improper benefits flowing to student athletes. That uncertainty looms over the program. It's on the mind of most kids considering the 'Canes. Will the NCAA extend Miami's bowl ban? Just how many scholarships will Miami lose?

Miami was also one of the most veteran teams in the ACC this season and lost 20 scholarship seniors, as well as underclassmen starters Lamar Miller, Tommy Streeter, Brandon Washington, Marcus Forston and Olivier Vernon, who jumped early to the NFL.

And despite the lack of a stadium to call their own, looming NCAA sanctions, and zero momentum from Al Golden's first year which saw the 'Canes lose six games for the third time in the last half-decade, Miami is surviving.

There are a few things working in Miami's favor.

First, the departures mean that the 'Canes have plenty of scholarships to offer. It also means the ability to sell immediate playing time to prospective recruits. That's something the in-state 'Noles cannot do at most positions.

Florida State's lack of room is also helping Miami as the 'Canes have picked up several players at which Florida State did not have space.

And while the timing of the NCAA investigation has created a lack of certainty, opening the 'Canes up for a lot of negative recruiting on the trail, the sanctions won't hit Miami until after national signing day so, the 'Canes are free to take an enormous class, which should help lessen the impact of some of the sanctions.

And Miami is doing just that, packing the class with 31 prospects. At least one prospect is not expected to qualify, but Miami looks to land at least three more, giving the 'Canes a class of 33+ signees.

Again, weathering the storm that will be NCAA sanctions and the coming down years has to be the priority for Golden.

Miami is not acquiring the level of talent needed to compete with Florida and Florida State (see above). But the 'Canes do need to stay in the "Big Three" in the state, at least in the collective mind of recruits. That means not becoming completely irrelevant and slipping to the level of a USF or a UCF.

Through one year, Golden is managing to out-recruit USF and UCF by a wide margin. That will only get more difficult in the coming years with UCF joining the Big East and the coming NCAA sanctions. But with this enormous class, Miami could have the talent to hold them off both in-state start ups on the trail during the down period.

And assuming the sanctions don't last too long, Miami could bounce back strong in, say, 2016 or 2017. Golden has a contract extension that runs through 2019, and he knows that in order to have a strong team sometime during this contract, he'll need to keep Miami above water in the middle part of the decade.

So how will Miami close out the class that will keep it afloat during the hard times? The Seventh Floor has you covered:

"In the vein of nabbing recruits from other schools, we start off with two kids who are currently committed to in-conference rivals but are seriously considering the Canes.

The first is a 3 star CB who as of now is committed to Georgia Tech, but says that after the events of this weekend he will be visiting Miami. Antonio Crawford has said that it's not 100% official he will visit the Canes, but that he is going to talk about it with his coach. He says that he got an offer after the Canes coaches saw him cover UM commit Malcolm Lewis during state championships. He runs a 4.4 40 and would help out almost immediately if he decides to switch allegiances.

The second guy that is currently committed, and may be a bit of a tougher flip is 4 star safety P.J. Williams (Player Profile). He is currently committed to FSU, but has said that he is considering the Hurricanes. He is a soft verbal to FSU right now, but has stated that he will visit them on Jan. 14th, and if that goes well, then he will be locked up with them. If that visit does not go as well as planned, then the door will be open for the Canes and USF. Obviously with our depth at safety, any help is good help, and the added sting of stealing a recruit from FSU would be great.

...

The second lineman is a three-star kid out of New Jersey, Ryan Brodie . He has listed Miami as one of his potential choices, and will visit the Canes in the last week of January. He is getting heavy pressure from Rutgers and UConn, but Miami is a serious contender due to him knowing Golden well from his days at Temple. The Canes have a great shot at landing this kid, so hopefully his visit goes well enough to convince him to come down south.

There are a couple of guys on the radar to help out in the defensive backfield, which has thinned a bit after last year. First up, we have DJ Abnar (Player Profile) who is listed by Rivals as an athlete, but played DB in high school. A three-star kid out of Tallahassee, he has said that he is hoping for an offer from the Canes, and has a huge advantage in getting one thanks to his cousin, Duke Johnson. He is a bit on the shorter side, standing only 5'8", but has the speed to make up for it."

That's just a snippet of the kids Miami is still pursuing. Can the 'Canes land Williams or Young? It's not likely. But that they have continued interest from those players is a good sign for the program.

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