Advertisement

Analyst assesses Hurricanes’ 2024 commitments on defense. And a roster update

For feedback on the Miami Hurricanes’ two-dozen-plus nonbinding commitments for the 2024 class, we solicited input from recruiting guru Larry Blustein, who has watched all of these players in person or on tape.

His thoughts on the commitments on defense, who can sign as early as mid-December:

EDGE RUSHERS

UM has commitments from four-star edge players Marquise Lightfoot (Chicago-based), Elias Rudolph (Cincinnati-based) and Booker Pickett (Tampa-based). Three-star Alabama-based Cole McConathy also is committed to Miami.

Blustein said Pickett is “strong, athletic, gets off the edge real quickly. All those kids on the edge will have a really decent advantage as long as [defensive line coach] Jason Taylor stays there. Look at all the guys Jason has worked with at St. Thomas; [Alabama’s] Dallas Turner will be a first-round pick. He’s worked with these defensive ends and edge rushers and he taught them technique. He gets in there and that will be a difference. Jason is a really good teacher, a patient guy.”

As for Lightfoot, “he’s going to grow into a really good prospect,” Blustein said. “A quick, smart guy. I talked to one of the people who played against him who said this kid’s [motor] goes from the beginning to the end of a game....

“Elias Rudolph didn’t play this year, but he came down from Ohio in the spring for a jamboree in Palm Beach and 40 colleges were there and all offered him. He’s an impact player but skinny. You put 40 pounds on him, and he’s going to be another NFL guy. He’s very athletic, the No. 3 player in Ohio” at one point.

As for McConathy, Blustein said he has “good size, a crazy first step and long.”

Roster update: Even with Jahfari Harvey entering the transfer portal, UM is deep in edge players, with Akheem Mesidor (a junior), Nyjalik Kelly (a sophomore), freshman phenom Rueben Bain, freshman Jayden Wayne, redshirt freshman Cyrus Moss and highly regarded freshman Collins Acheampong.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

UM has one elite commitment in five-star Justin Scott (who flipped from Ohio State to Miami last week) and another very good one in four-star Blountstown, Florida-based Artavius Jones, who flirted with FSU but seems strongly committed to Miami.

Three-star Miami Columbus prospect Daylen Russell can play end or tackle.

Scott, a football and basketball player at St. Ignatius in Chicago, is the 10th ESPN 300 defensive lineman to sign with Miami since Mario Cristobal was hired in December 2021.

Scott “has really active hands and feet, sheds double teams easily and then can use power and speed to get in the backfield to be really disruptive,” said Rivals recruiting analyst Adam Gorney.

Blustein said of Scott: “I’ve watched him and he is one of the best in the country. He is one of those elite players that comes in — like a [Rueben] Bain — that makes a major splash. Quick and very athletic.”

Blustein said he has watched Blount “since eighth grade. When Blountstown went to the state [finals], they played Madison County and the head coach at the time, Bo Johnson, said to me, ‘There are some good kids on this team but we have this ninth grader and he’s as good as you are ever going to get.’

“When he committed to Miami, I called the coach and I said, ‘You called it.’ He said, ‘I don’t want the credit.’ The coach said he’s a [monster] on the field. One of Miami’s top recruits. He will chase your butt down and now he’s pretty big, too. He can progress quickly. And an intelligent kid.

“For a small town, Blountstown has three power five kids,” with others committed to Texas A&M and Florida.

As for Russell, Blustein said: “He’s an instinctive guy. He’s serviceable where he makes plays, great reaction time, has passion for the game. Against Western, he was [around the ball] almost every play. Very good player. Will probably play tackle eventually. He plays inside more now anyway.”

Roster update: With Leonard Taylor III turning pro, that would leave UM with four veteran defensive tackles: Jared Harrison-Hunte, Thomas Gore, Anthony Campbell and Ahmad Moten, plus freshman Joshua Horton.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

UM has three pretty good — but not elite — three-star inside linebacker commitments: Miami Central’s Vincent Shavers, Alabama-based Cam Pruitt and Toronto-based Nino Francavilla, who was previously a high-school center in Connecticut.

With Pruitt, the “first thing I saw about him is he was out of position,” Blustein said. “But I saw more and more film. If this guy ever finds his way, he will be pretty good. Very quick, very strong, needs to spend time learning the technical side of the position and working with the coaching staff and looking at film.”

Shavers is “going to be a quality kid down the line but has got to grow and learn more technical” stuff, Blustein said.

Roster update: Francisco Mauigoa, Wesley Bissainthe and K.J. Cloyd are the top returnees. Corey Flagg Jr. entered the portal and Keontra Smith’s eligibility is up.

There are also young players Bobby Washington, Raul Aguirre, Malik Bryant and Marcellius Pulliam. Aguirre and Pulliam could be the closest to contributing.

SAFETIES

Four-star Class of 2024 Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna safety Zaquan Patterson is committed and should push for immediate playing time.

Blustein makes clear that Patterson is a “big get, could be another Kam Kinchens. If Alabama or Ohio State or Michigan [make a run, it wouldn’t be surprising]. He would be the best of what they have if Kinchens or James Williams leaves.

“He’s physical, versatile, can play the run, can drop back in pass coverage. He’s an enforcer, played at the varsity level since eighth grade. Has got leadership qualities.”

Two three-star 2024 safeties are committed: Louisiana-based Dylan Day and Toronto-based Isaiah Thomas.

“The Thomas kid from Toronto played for Clearwater,” Blustein said. “Good player. Has a lot to learn. He’s a project, good size, very good talent. Might take a couple of years…

“Day can have an impact right away. Big time kid. Like a throwback kid — athletic, quick, strong. Always around the ball, knows how to read routes, doesn’t get faked out.”

Roster update: James Williams announced Tuesday that he’s turning pro. If Kinchens does the same (as expected), then Markeith Williams, Jaden Harris, Kaleb Spencer and Brian Balom would be the only safeties left. Cornerback Jadais Richard also can play safety. And veteran safeties likely will be added in the portal.

CORNERBACKS

Two three-star 2024 cornerbacks from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas are committed: Ryan Mack and Romanas Frederique.

Blustein said Mack — whose father Rod Mack was a UM linebacker in the 1990s — is “a lot better than people give him credit for, maybe a little undersized. From a technical standpoint, he knows the entire secondary as well as anybody. Since little league when he played for the Ravens, he has been a dude.

“He reminds me, as a player, of Terrell Buckley. Long arms, good recovery speed. Terrell was kind of short but had long arms and recovery speed.”

Blustein said he watched Frederique previously at “Deerfield and thought he’s going to be pretty special. He went to St. Thomas and fit in there. He’s got a lot of potential. Athletic kid, longer, can run. He will be an asset, I think. He’s a kid you won’t be able to plug and play right away. But I think he’s going to be a shining star” eventually.

Roster update: Four veterans remain: Daryl Porter Jr. (UM’s top cornerback this season before a November injury), former UCF starter Davonte Brown, freshman Damari Brown (Davonte’s brother) and sophomore Richard.

Freshman Robert Stafford and junior college transfer Demetrius Freeney also are on scholarship. And more cornerbacks likely will be added in the portal.