Miami football was down for a couple of years, but with Al Golden at the top of the program and a couple of strong recruiters on the coaching staff, the Hurricanes are back in the polls and ready to take the next step back towards relevancy.
The Hurricanes' current 2014 recruiting class comes in at No. 5 on 24/7Sports' composite team rankings. That's the best class of any ACC school, with Miami just ahead of Florida State (No. 7) and Clemson (No. 15).
A big reason why Miami has a top-five class is due to the sheer number of athletes they're planning on signing. The Canes currently have 29 players committed, and there's a chance another recruit or two could join before National Signing Day. And even as other schools add more prospects, Miami's class has a strong chance to remain in the top-10.
A handful of recruits have given their pledge in the last month or so, including four-star safety Kiy Hester. Hester is a product of Montvale, NJ, and committed on Dec. 15. He's regarded as a top-250 prospect nationally and the 17th-best safety in his class, according to 24/7Sports. He also played some wide receiver in high school. Marques Gayot, a three-star safety out of Lake Worth, Fla., also committed to the Hurricanes on Dec. 13.
As for the rest of the class, there is absolutely no shortage of talent on both sides of the ball.
Kc McDermott, a four-star offensive tackle out of West Palm Beach, is a top-50 prospect nationally and one of the best offensive linemen in the 2014 class. At 6'6 and 285 pounds, he has the size and technique to potentially play as a true freshmen. McDermott will block for four-star running back Joseph Yearby, who has been committed The U since February. He's another top-100 prospect from Miami Central High School and could see some early playing time behind Duke Johnson. The coaching staff went out west to potentially find their quarterback of the future; Brad Kaaya, a four-star pro style QB out of California, committed to the Canes in May. He'll need to work on his throwing technique and accuarcy before seeing the field in college, but he's got the big frame and arm strength you can't teach.
On the defensive side of the ball, Travonte Valentine, Anthony Moten and Trent Harris are all four-star defensive line prospects from the state of Florida. Valentine and Moten, who are both top-150 recruits, project to play defensive tackle, while Harris will be more of a pass rusher at defensive end.
Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst: There is a lot to like about Miami's class, which is almost completely finished.
The first thing that jumps off the page is the size. 8 of Miami's best 11 recruits, and 15 in all, are linemen or linebackers. That's a big deal. Miami's cornerbacks and receivers are at the level of a top BCS team. But its big men under Al Golden have not been, and particularly on the defensive side of the football. Al Golden and his staff have addressed these needs.
And the Hurricanes might not be done at defensive tackle, either, having recently offered Edgar Cerenord, of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage. Cerenord is undersized at 6'0 and 290 pounds, but has longer arms than one would expect relative to his frame, and plays with good power, leverage and motor.
I expect this Miami defense to be much improved within two years thanks to the excellent bigs being brought in on that side of the football.