Miami Hurricanes Football Recruiting: 2017 National Signing Day Player Tracker

The Miami Hurricanes have signed a consensus top 15 class. It includes a few four star prospects and players that have flipped from Alabama and Michigan. The future looks bright at the U.

Jeff Thomas

Wide Receiver/Kick Returner, East St. Louis, Il, East St. Louis High School, 5’10 175, 4*

At 5’10, 175, Thomas is going to have to add bulk to his frame. This is not uncommon for 17 and 18 year old kids moving up a level. Thomas’ speed and play making ability are his strength. The MVP of the Under Armour All-America game comes from the same high school that produced the father of former Hurricane Kellen Winslow, Hall of Fame Tight End Kellen Winslow Sr.

Thomas was a signficant get for the Hurricanes. The fact that Mark Richt and his staff are getting players over more currently established programs like Alabama and Michigan means the U is on the way back. Richt mentioned the importance of restoring the swagger at the U when he spoke with Zagacki and Bailey on ACC extra’s National Signing Day Special.

Robert Burns

Running Back, Miami, FL-Gulliver Prep) 5’11 216 4*

Burns attended Gulliver Prep in Miami, the same school as current Miami wide receiver Dionte Mullins. Like Mullins, he was selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game. He is likely to push for playing time right away. The Hurricanes are thin at running back. They return 1,000 yard rusher Mark Walton, Sophomore to be Travis Homer and Trayone Gray who is coming off a knee injury.

N’Kosi Perry

Dual Threat QB, Vanguard High School, Ocala, FL, 6’4 185, 4*

Analysis: N’kosi Perry broke a 20 year old Vanguard High School record and surpassed Daunte Culpepper in the process. The record was shattered when Perry completed his 57th career touchdown in 2016.

The talented Dual Threat Quarterback finished his career with an impressive 5127 passing yards, 64 passing touchdowns, 494 yards rushing and another 20 touchdowns with his feet.

Perry is the established #1 overall recruit on Miami’s board for 2017. He brings an added dimension that quite simply the Hurricane haven’t seen in a very long time or maybe ever.

Cade Weldon

Quarterback, Thomas Jefferson High School, Tampa, FL, 6’3 204, 3*

Analysis: Son of Florida State and NFL QB Casey Weldon, Cade Weldon’s inherent QB DNA was obviously hereditary. The the first thing I notice while watching Weldon pick apart secondaries to the tune of 3135 yards and 19 touchdowns, is how meticulously in rhythm he is.

There are no wasted steps. When he reaches his final step in his drop he has a very definitive decision matrix and the ball is out ON TIME. This is not a very replicated trait among most high school quarterbacks and that is where his Dad’s tutelage has paid dividends.

Waynmon Steed

Linebacker, Miami Central High School, Miami, FL, 5’11 203 3*

Analysis – When former Canes watch Steed on film, they will think of former Miami Hurricane Sean Spence. Considered undersized by many, Steed makes up for it with his raw strength and speed. Much like Spence, this Hurricane contains side line to side line speed.

Steed is great at filling the hole downhill in the run game. However, Steed maybe limited in the 2017 season due to knee injury. The linebacker played his whole senior season with a partially torn ACL. Steed has already had surgery to repair the knee and has begun the rehabilitation process.

Steed has dealt with other injuries. He missed his entire Junior season in 2016 with a torn labrum. He was one of the earliest commits in the 2017 class. Steed commited to the U in Debruary 2017 while Al Golden was still the Head Coach.

Due to his injury and the returns of the Hurricanes entire linebacking corp from 2016, its will be hard for Steed to get on the field in 2017. He could be a redshirt candidate this upcoming season. He should become a solid backup when he recovers fully.

Miami Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz added his insight about Steed on HurricaneSports:

Bradley Jennings, Jr.

Linebacker, Sandalwood High School, Jacksonville, FL, 6’1 231 3*

Analysis -A son of a former Florida State Seminole linebacker of the same name, like fellow recruit Cade Weldon, Jennings Jr. broke the family tradition and headed down south to enroll early for the Miami Hurricanes.

The linebacker has good patience and explodes to the ball. Much like Steed, Jennings Jr. possesses sideline to sideline speed and the ability to stay clean to make tackles. Generates explosiveness and strikes ball carriers. Will provide solid depth behind current linebackers on roster.

DeAndre Wilder

Linebacker, Carol City High School, Miami, FL, 6’3 202, 4*

Analysis – The highly scouted outside linebacker was coveted by major programs all across the national scene. Wilder will have to make the transition to playing in a 4-3 scheme. In high school, Wilder was a 3-4 OLB and pass rusher in high school so he is an hybrid type.

He contains excellent speed and gets up field to the ball. Plays fast and aggressive which allows some cases of over-pursuing. Wilder does a good job of beating blocks to ball. Do not be surprised to see Wilder on the field this season in some form of capacity. Catch his film here.

Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz analysis and Wilder’s Bio on HurricaneSports are here:

D.J. Johnson

Defensive Line, Burbank High School, Sacramento, California,, 6’5 240, 4*

The highly rated commit’s best asset is his pass rushing ability with his speed. Needs to improve on shedding blockers in the run game. Best attribute is his first step towards the line scrimmage which helps win many of his battles.

Obviously needs to gain weight and needs to work on pad level when engaging offensive tackles. The ESPN Under-Armour All American will battle for playing time in deep, deep defensive line for the Miami Hurricanes. Check out his film here:

Defensive Line Coach Craig Kuligowski analyzed Johnson and his official bio from Hurricane Sports follows.

Jonathan Garvin

Defensive End, Lake Worth Community High School, Lake Worth, FL, 6’4 229, 4*

One of the steals for Miami in the 2017 class. Finished his senior season with 25 sacks. Although he stands at 6’4, Garvin plays much longer than his frame. Uses great leverage with his strength against offensive lineman.

Garvin contains a good motor and physical tools that help him get to the football. A little light for a defensive end at this stage and maybe a red-shirt candidate. However, Garvin will make a big splash in years to come for the Hurricanes.

Corey Gaynor

Center/Guard, Parkland, Fla, 6’4 285, 3*

Gaynor is part of an impressive offensive line in the class of 2017. The O-Line was the weakest part of the offense in 2017. Mark Richt and offensive line coach Stacy Searles have to be given a lot of credit for building a great line in this class.

Jonathan Ford

Defensive Tackle, Dillard High School, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 6’5 275, 3*

Ford is a defensive prospect who is a bit of a ‘tweener at this stage and needs to continue to develop and find his fit and with some work could develop as a swing player. If he can add the needed mass his best will likely come as a 34 DE or DT. We don’t see at this stage an ideal early contributor as needs to continue to develop, but tough defender that can grow into productive contributor at Power-5 level.

Kai-Leon Herbert

Offensive Tackle, American Heritage High School, Planation, Florida, 6’5 285, 4*

Analysis- Herbert is an athletic tackle who will back-up returning tackles Tyree St. Louis and Trevor Darling. Herbert helped lead American Heritage to their third 5A state championship in the last four seasons. They finished 2016 14-0 for the first undefeated season in school history.

The consensus scouting report seems to be that he has excellent foot work to go with great length. His body is still developing. The coaching staff is probably looking forward to getting Herbert into the weight room.

Herbert has increased his nastiness throughout his prep career. It will be interesting to see which side of the line he will wind up on. With Navuaghn Donaldson part of the class, it’s likely Herbert plays right tackle

Amari Carter

Defensive Back, Palm Beach Gardens High School, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, 6’2 188, 4*

One of the most important signings in the Miami Hurricanes 2017 class is Amari Carter. Carter, an early enrollee, looks to battle for the starting strong safety position. Carter brings the wood and is head-hunting tackler. He contains the potential to start this year because he is an early enrollee. Not much experience is front of him on the depth chart. As fans have seen last year, early enrollees make a significant impact due to extra practice time in the spring, a full off-season of conditioning, and a chance to learn the playbook.

Derrick Smith

Safety, Trinity Christian Academy, Jacksonville, FL, 6’2 200, 3*

Safety Derrick Smith is one of the steals for the Miami Hurricanes for the 2017 class. He continues the pipeline of Jacksonville to Miami in the state. He earned his offer at Miami’s popular Paradise Camp.

Fits the mold of the philosophy of Manny Diaz of being a physical tackler, shows athleticism by playing wide receiver in high school. Hard hitter, likely projected to be a strong safety. Breaks on the ball well and has above average speed. Will come in for a bid for playing time.

Trajan Bandy

Cornerback, Columbus High School, Miami, Florida, 5’9 180 4*

Bandy is one of the highest regarded players in Miami’s class of 2017. With the departures of four key players from the secondary in 2016, Bandy will push for playing time and becoming a starter in 2017. He is a consensus four start prospect that is rated around the 50th best player at his position. He is also a consensus top 300 player overall. Could be the next great defensive back at Miami.

Jhavonte Dean

Cornerback, Blinn College and Homestead, Fla., South Dade High School, 6’2 185 4*

Dean will likely take Corn Elder starting cornerback slot. The Miami native will return home after playing two seasons at Blinn College in Texas. He is a consensus four star prospect. Dean chose Miami after initially giving Nick Saban and Alabama a verbal commitment.

Zach Feagles

Punter, Ridgewood High School, Glen Rock, New Jersey, 6’2 210, 2.5*

Feagles should me a familiar name. He is the son of former Miami and 22 year NFL veteran Punter Jeff Feagles. Feagles is a three star prospect via ESPN and Scout and a two star prospect according to 247Sports and Rivals.Com. He is ranked as the nation’s seventh best punter according to Kohl’s Kicking. Feagles is going to have to improve on a 36/1 average during his high school career.

Mike Harley

Wide Receiver/Kick Returner, St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fl, 5’9 160, 4*

One of the most important signings in the 2017 class. Harley flipped after previously giving West Virginia a verbal commitment. Will team with fellow signee Jeff Thomas and current Miami Hurricane Wide Receiver Ahmmon Richards to give the Hurricanes a formidable threesome at WR for at least the next two seasons. Harley is a consensus four star wide receiver. He has tremendous speed and should give the Hurricanes a burst on special teams with Thomas and current ace punt returner Braxton Berrios. Attended the legendary St. Thomas Acquinas in Fort Lauderdale. Harley caught three touchdowns in the Florida Class 7A Championship game.

Zalon’tae Hillery

Offensive Line, Glynn Academy, Brunswick, Ga., 6’6 287, 3*

Hillary adds to what appears to be a stellar offensive line class by Mark Richt and offensive line coach Stacy Searles. A three star prospect that is in the consensus top 50 at his position. Played in high school with fellow Miami Hurricanes signee DeeJay Dallas.

Evidence Njoku

Wide Receiver, Wayne Hills High School, Cedar Grove, New Jersey, 6’6 196, 3*

The brother of former Miami Tight End David N’Joku, bring a lot of the same attributes as his older brother. Might be a candidate for a redshirt season just like his older brother was. Was ranked the tenth best player in the state of New Jersey according to ESPN. Showed his athleticism by returning kickoffs as a Junior. Will bring provide great size and at 6’6 should be a great red zone target for offensive coordinator Thomas Brown and Mark Richt. Consensus three-star player.

DeeJay Dallas

Athlete (Likely DB or WR), Brunswick, Ga., Glynn Academy, 5’10 205. 4*

An early enrollee, Dallas has already shown leadership skills as he helped the coaching staff to recruit others. A multi talented Quarterback in high school he is listed as an athlete. Likely is bound for either defensive back or wide receiver. With Miami’s thin depth at running back they could try him to back up Mark Walton. A four star consensus prospect. Dallas was also a return man in high school. Was a high school teammate of his future Miami teammate Za’Lontae Hillery

Navaughn Donaldson

Offensive Tackle, Miami Central High School, Miami, Florida, 6’6 335, 4*

Donaldson is an early enrollee and one of three top 100 recruits with Jeff Thomas and D.J. Johnson. He is a massive 6.5.5 335. He is likely going to have to lose weight and re-shape his body. Projected as a left tackle that could wind up on the right side. Will battle with signee Kai-Leon Herbert in the future at tackle. The Hurricanes currently have Tyree St. Louis and Trevor Darling at the tackle spots. A consensus four star and top 100 prospect. Played in the Under Armour All-America game with future teammate and top 100 signee Jeff Thomas. Was a preseason All-American by USA Today. Played with fellow Hurricanes early enrollee Waynmon Steed.

Zach Dykstra

Offensive Line, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Spirit Lake High School, 6’6 305, 3*

Dykstra is a consensus three star offensive line prospect who was a good signee for the Hurricanes over instate schools Iowa and Iowa State, plus Vanderbilt. He will provide good depth on the offensive line and on special teams.

Brian Polendey

Tight End, Denton, Texas, Guyer High School, 6’6 220. 3*

Polendey is rated asan excpetional blocker who can be a good receiver against the right matchup. Adds desperately needed depth at tight end. A consensus three star prospect. A consensus top 25 player at his position. Polendey grew up in Washington state before finished high school in Texas.

Mark Richt and his staff did a great job in their first full year recruiting cycle. Appearing with Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. on Miami’s flaghship station WQAM yesterday, Richt said he considers four years a full recruiting cycle.

They also discussed the dividends that getting in the youth camps with the seventh and eight graders will pay in the years to come, plus the success of the Paradise Camps. Richt stressed the importance of the perception that the U is on its way back.

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