For all the turmoil Miami has had to endure in recent years -- coaching changes, sanctions both self-imposed and NCAA-mandated -- the Hurricanes have made out well on the recruiting trail. Al Golden and his staff are signing a class that ranks among the top 20 nationally in 2014; it's one of the best groups in the ACC.
This Miami class has 26 members, including one five-star and seven four-star prospects.
Nine members of Miami's class elected to enroll in January, giving them a a head start to learning the ins and outs of a major-college program. Consensus four-star running back Joseph Yearby is the highest-ranked player in this group, and he played his high school ball right in Miami. The speedster was ranked as the No. 7 player at his position and the No. 44 player overall. Here's SB Nation recruiting analyst Bud Elliott on Yearby:
The first thing that jumps out about Yearby is his body control. He is able to make excellent cuts off of either leg, which is difficult to do. He accomplishes this by having great balance and a low center of gravity. With that low center of gravity, body control and balance, Yearby is able to make cuts at full speed, leaving defenders grasping at air.
The ability to cut at full speed is truly a special one, and for Yearby it is particularly important because he is more quick than fast. That's not to say that he is slow -- he's not by any measure, but he's also not likely to join a college track team any time soon.
He'll be joined by four-star offensive tackles KC McDermott and Trevor Darling. McDermott is another in-state get for the Hurricanes, and is considered a top 50 player in 2014 and top 5 player at his position. He had scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Michigan and Oklahoma. Our Miami blog, State of The U, interviewed McDermott about his decision and much more last summer.
Darling was not quite as highly regarded, but is still a consensus top 10 offensive tackle. He played his high school football at Miami Central High, and chose the hometown Hurricanes over Florida State, USF, and West Virginia. arling stands 6'4 and weighs 327 pounds already, so he could have the size to contribute early on the Hurricanes' offensive front. He was ranked as the No. 14 player in the state of Florida for 2014 and No. 93 recruit nationally.
The other early additions to the Hurricanes are wide receiver Braxton Berrios, defensive end Trent Harris, linebackers Juwon Young and Darrion Owens, JUCO defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou, and cornerback Ryan Mayes.
Signing day highlights
Wednesday looks to be a big day for Miami, in part because class-headliner Chad Thomas will officially be in the fold. Thomas is considered the No. 3 weak-side defensive end prospect in the class and the No. 26 player overall. The benefits of being in south Florida paid off again here -- Thomas played for Booker T. Washington High School in Miami. He had his pick of schools, including Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Florida and Notre Dame. More on Thomas from Elliott:
Thomas is a defensive end with a lot of potential. At this point, he is a better prospect than a high school player. Thomas is 6'5 and listed at 230 pounds, but seeing him recently, it's clear he is continuing to put on good size. He could easily be 240 pounds come August of 2014. Thomas is very long, and his frame has room to eventually play north of 260 pounds.
Thomas has good quickness off the football and often shoots the inside gap. He quickly closes distance between himself and the quarterback or running back. Thomas often times the snap and shoots into the backfield before the opposing offensive lineman can react.
Chaminade High (Calif.) quarterback Brad Kaaya might be a key piece to Miami's offense moving forward. The four-star pro-style quarterback is ranked seventh at his position and 141st overall. He signed with the Hurricanes over USC, UCLA and Maryland.
Defensive tackle Anthony Moten is another four-star kid on the way for Miami. Moten is regarded as the No. 15 player at DT and a top-200 player nationally. He previously committed to Florida before reopening his recruitment in July. Moten also held offers from Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and South Carolina.
Overall, Miami's class is balanced between offense and defense. The Hurricanes added 14 players to the defensive side -- including seven defensive linemen -- and 11 to the offense. Three-star athlete Trayone Gray could play on either side of the ball.
There are a few targets remaining for the Hurricanes in the 2014 class. Four-star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine is largely thought to be headed to LSU, but he's also considering Miami. There's also a group of players committed to other schools who the 'Canes are trying to flip -- four-star Florida wide receiver commit J.C. Jackson, four-star Florida State athlete pledge Treon Harris, four-star Georgia defensive tackle commit Lamont Gaillard and four-star Florida State defensive end pledge Lorenzo Featherston.