Manny Diaz, in his first season as a head coach, is on the brink of a top ten recruiting class. Currently the class ranks eighth overall according to 247Sports and second in the ACC, trailing behind Clemson. The Hurricanes to date have 22 commits and are closing in on solidifying a solid class. Of Miami’s 22 commits, 13 of those are on defense.
After already focusing on the offensive side of the 2020 recruiting class, the defensive players will be the main focus and how they may contribute. Six of the 13 players committed on defense should also be early enrollees which should help long term. Here is a look at Miami’s 2020 defense recruiting class.
Miami’s 2020 Defense Recruiting Class
The Hurricanes have their third defensive line coach in three years but that hasn’t stopped their productivity. Last season Miami led the nation in tackles for loss and that has helped Miami with recruiting defensive lineman. As of now there are six defensive lineman that committed in this class.
The most recent commitment may be one of Miami’s bigger fish in Chantz Williams. The six foot four 238 pounder from Jacksonville, Florida publicly announced on July 20th. Miami has been recruiting him since his freshman season dating back to when Mark Richt was still the head coach. Williams is the number four ranked player at his position and rated 85th overall nationally. He will be an early graduate and is someone who can have an immediate impact at Miami with his ability to rush the quarterback.
Romello Height is listed by many recruiting services as an outside linebacker but will more than likely become an end at Miami. At six foot five and 216 pounds, he holds the frame to carry at least 250 plus pounds. As another early enrollee, the Hurricanes will bulk him up during the spring semesters. With Miami set to graduate two defensive ends this season and potentially a third may leave early, Height could play early.
At ACC Media Days, Diaz was asked a question about recruiting the state of North Carolina. He mentioned that defensive lineman from that state are disruptive. Ironically enough Quentin Williams fits that type. At six foot three and 234 pounds Williams is another end that is ultra quick.
The defensive tackle position was one that Diaz singled out from his first day as one that has to produce for the defense to thrive. Just last season Gerald Willis had 18 tackles for loss and was an All-American. Willie Moise is in the same mold of another interior defensive lineman that is slippery and uses his hands very well.
The Hurricanes have a few commits that project as defensive tackles in Elijah Roberts and Tre’Von Riggins. Roberts is six foot three and 267 pounds while Riggins measures at about six foot two and 273 pounds. Riggins has dealt with some injuries the past two seasons but is finally healthy for his senior campaign. Roberts has been on Miami’s radar for quite some time and even after decommitting from Miami, he eventually would settle on Miami.
Miami decided to start three freshman in 2016 and they’ve all started since then. Now although that will help the Hurricanes this year, that also leads a huge void for next season. Diaz has been aggressive with recruiting replacements for their departures and has three players already committed. Tirek Austin-Cave, Alvin Mathis and Corey Flagg are the new trio of linebackers set to enroll at Miami next year.
History could repeat itself as all three will graduate high school early, just like Miami’s current trio. Austin-Cave is a hyper active linebacker from Camden, New Jersey that totaled 162 tackles last season. In addition to football he also doubles up as a track athlete where he runs indoor track. In the 55 meter dash he posted an impressive 6.57 time.
Flagg hails from Houston,Texas and plays for North Shore High School that was named national champions by MaxPreps. He was the starting middle linebacker on that team where he recorded 144 tackles in his junior season. Mathis is a sideline to sideline linebacker for Largo high school and will allow the Hurricanes some versatility at the position.
The ‘U’ is getting some well needed help in the secondary from this class. Within the secondary are versatile and taller athletes that can match up with elite receivers. Perhaps the biggest prize in the secondary is Jaiden Francois from South Dade high school. Miami showed interest in him before many bigger schools showed interest. Last season as a junior, Francois led Miami-Dade county in interceptions with 12 of them.
A teammate of his at South Dade high school, Keyshawn Washington, is also committed. Miami is recruiting him as a defensive athlete. There is a belief he can play in the box but he has also shown the ability to play safety. Washington is a taller athlete at six foot three but he isn’t the only tall athlete. Justin Hodges at corner is six foot one and had four interceptions last year. Daran Branch is from Louisiana and will be playing safety, his ability to tackle in open space makes him a very intriguing prospect for the ‘Canes.
Defense Recruiting Class Main Photo:
MIAMI, FL – APRIL 13: Head coach Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes coaching during the annual Spring Game at Nathaniel Traz-Powell Stadium on April 13, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)