Miami is on its way to one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, and David Wilson and the DieHards.com team are in the eye of the storm to help you track the Hurricanes. Read daily notebooks here at 10 a.m. ET Monday through Friday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Miami recruiting news.
Dan Mullen seems to be a good rebound for Florida
Florida has found a familiar face to serve as its new coach and the early reviews of Dan Mullen’s hire out on the recruiting trail have been overwhelmingly positive. Miami will once again have its work cut out of it to beat out the Gators on the recruiting trail.
The Hurricanes aren’t competing much with Florida in the Class of 2018 – only 4-star Miami safety commit Gurvan Hall plans to visit the Gators – so the 2019 class seems more likely to be affected by Mullen’s hire.
Zach Abolverdi of SEC Country, our sister site, checked in with a number of Florida commits and targets after the hire was made, including Frank Ladson. The 4-star wide receiver from South Dade High School in Homestead, Fla., remains committed to the Gators, although he visited Hard Rock Stadium for the Hurricanes’ wins against then-No. 13 Virginia Tech and then-No. 3 Notre Dame. The junior likes the Gators sticking with a coach who knows the Sunshine State.
“I’m excited,” Ladson said. “I’ve been hearing good things about him and what he’s done in the past for UF.”
For most of the recruits who have stuck by their recruitment, like Ladson, what will ultimately matter is which assistant coaches stick around. Dontae Lucas, a 4-star guard from Miami High School, told DieHards the same thing earlier this month when asked if Florida was still near the top of his list despite the coaching uncertainty.
Although Lucas said the No. 2 Hurricanes are now his favorite – the junior also visited for the wins against the Hokies and Fighting Irish – he told Andrew Spivey of GatorCountry.com he’s encouraged by the hiring of Mullen. Still, the assistant coaches will be most important.
“Don’t know much about him, but [I know] he has a offensive mind. Great luck for Florida,” Lucas said. “I hope guys like [on-campus recruiting director John Herron, defensive backs coach Corey Bell and defensive coordinator Randy Shannon] stay on me more now. It could be a possible commit.”
Mark Richards, a 4-star athlete from Wellington (Fla.) High School, also singled out Shannon as a coach he would like to see stick around.
Ahmmon Richards’ younger brother seems to be favoring Miami early on, although he does hold an offer from the Gators and visited Auburn on Saturday. The junior told Adam Lichtenstein of the Palm Beach Post he’ll still consider Florida no matter how Mullen’s staff shakes out.
“I want to see who he hires on his staff and who he keeps. I’m just going to keep my options open and I’ll pay some mind to them,” Richards said. “I hope he keeps [Shannon], but if he doesn’t, I’ll just get to know [another coach] because you commit to a school, not a coach.”
The Gators are something of a long shot to land 5-star running back Noah Cain, who only received an offer in October. The junior from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is, however, one of the most coveted prospects in the state as the nation’s top-ranked running back, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
A native of Louisiana, Cain may offer a slightly less biased insight into Mullen and what players around his age. He gave his take to 247Sports’ Blake Alderman.
“I don’t really know much about Dan Mullen,” Cain said, “but I know that offense he ran at Florida was real good.”
But the most interesting response probably came from 4-star wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, who previously named the Gators his favorite. Although the senior from American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla., isn’t strongly considering Hurricanes, he did attend the Notre Dame game and apparently doesn’t like the latest developments in Gainesville, Fla.
“I know he had a great past at Florida,” Schwartz said, “but looking at what his offense did this season they weren’t a great pass, so I don’t know how this will pan out.”
Renato Brown finds success during first season at DL
Renato Brown never really was a defensive lineman during his first two high school seasons at Oxbridge Academy Foundation, Inc., in West Palm Beach, Fla. This fall, the 3-star tackle wanted to change that.
The junior arrived at Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington during the spring and immediately had a question for coach Tino Ierulli: Could he give defense a shot?
Ierulli worried conditioning would be an issue. Brown wasn’t concerned.
“Coach,” he said, “that won’t be a problem.”
That was enough for Ierulli.
“A kid like that with that size and strength,” Ierulli told DieHards on Monday, “at the high school level you can’t trap him into one position.”
During his first season at Palm Beach Central, Brown lived up to his promise. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound prospect started at both left tackle and defensive tackle for the Broncos, and his rapid two-way success was enough to catch Miami’s attention. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz became convinced Brown could succeed on the defensive line and in September he secured a commitment from the in-state lineman.
Brown wrapped up his first season as a full-time defensive lineman earlier this month and it was a promising debut campaign. In nine games for a playoff team, Brown racked up 42 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss and 2 sacks, plus an interception and a forced fumble.
“His size and his athleticism with a kid that big,” Ierulli said, “I thought he’d best fit as a defensive lineman because he’s so big and powerful, and quick across the line.”
Brown’s raw tools made him useful right away and working with a former Hurricanes defensive lineman helped him progress throughout the fall. Mike Lawson, who played for Miami during the 1990s, is now the Broncos’ defensive line coach and used some of experience to mold Brown. The defensive tackle became more than a bull-rusher, adding better hand usage to become a reliable weapon in the middle of Palm Beach Central’s defense.
The next step for Brown will be continuing to improve his fitness while he becomes more polished. Brown weighed in at 308 pounds Monday and Ierulli hopes to get him down to 290 by the start of next season.
It shouldn’t be an issue. Brown is spending this winter playing varsity basketball for the Broncos.
Is Miami out of the running for 4-star T Michael Tarquin?
Once upon a time, the Hurricanes appeared to be an early frontrunner for Michael Tarquin. The 4-star tackle out of Belleview (Fla.) High School visited the Hurricanes early during the process and was even in Miami Gardens, Fla., for the Hurricanes’ thrilling win against Georgia Tech earlier this fall.
If the visits are any indication, though, then Ohio State has certainly vaulted to the top of his list. While he’s not ruling out Miami yet, Tarquin told 247Sports Bill Kurelic he has a new top 2 and it doesn’t include the Hurricanes.
“[Ohio State and Oklahoma] both have great programs that have my interest,” Tarquin said.
The 6-5, 290-pound junior previously told DieHards he hopes to make a decision by the end of his junior year. New NCAA rules will allow him to take official visits during the spring and once those are complete he hopes to make a commitment. The Sooners and Buckeyes will both get official visits, and it’s still possible he’ll take one to Coral Gables, Fla. Tarquin also previously listed South Carolina among his top group.
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