For Miami, there were no major surprises on National Signing Day. And that was pretty much okay.
The Hurricanes may not have been able to steal away any players at the last minute, but coach Al Golden and his staff were able to do something a little bit more impressive: they hung on to a crop of longtime verbal commitments, many of whom could have an impact shortly after arriving on campus.
“When you’re in a game like that, and you’re in the lead, you have to continue to stay aggressive,” Golden said. “We stayed aggressive. Having nine guys in [as early enrollees] helped. We were only working off a pool of 17. That was huge, having those nine guys in at mid-year…the reality of it is, when you look at this group, we had a lot of guys that everybody wanted. And that’s the thing that we’re excited about. In years past, we haven’t been in that business to the extent that we were this year. That’s a reflection of moving the program forward.”
For Golden, it was also the first National Signing Day since the end of the NCAA investigation into the actions of former booster Nevin Shapiro. Wednesday, he said there was no doubt being able to recruit without that uncertainty looming over his program made a difference.
“My coaches will tell you, there are some homes that I left in December and I felt like I left something. You know, you feel like you leave your cell phone or you left something. I kept saying, ‘I feel like I left something,’ and then I realized I didn’t spend three quarters of the time there explaining the NCAA thing,” Golden said. “It just felt good, for the first time since I’ve been here, it felt really good to just go in and say, ‘Okay, let me tell you about the University of Miami. Here we are. We’re a small, private institution. We’re No. 1 in the state, no. 45 in the country. Man, that felt good. It felt good to talk about our classroom size, the types of curriculum we have, the campus itself, the community surrounding the campus, our football program, our tradition, all the things we want to talk about that really have been eclipsed because whatever coach just left or whatever coach came after, all they were talking about is ‘Miami, the NCAA, they’re dead.’ The majority of your time was spent on that. It feels good. It feels good.”
Here's a closer look at the recruiting class.
FIVE IMPACT PLAYERS
• Chad Thomas, DE, 6-5, 229, Miami/Booker T. Washington High
With size, speed, and the ability to move well considering his long frame, Thomas briefly considered a late flip to Alabama, but decided on Miami where coaches who are impressed with his explosiveness and his pass rush abilities say he can have an immediate impact.
• Brad Kaaya, QB, 6-4, 213, West Hills (CA)/Chaminade College Prep
Was 23-3 as a starter at Chaminade and earned praise from Miami coach Al Golden for his ability to lead teammates and win games. Passed for a school-record 3,855 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior. Has a big arm and has played both under center and in the shotgun.
• Anthony Moten, DT, 6-4, 292, Fort Lauderdale/St. Thomas Aquinas
One of the nation's top-rated tackles, Moten will help add much-needed depth to Miami's defensive line. Finished with 40 tackles, including 12 for loss, and six sacks. Was described as being "ready made" by Miami coach Golden.
• Michael Wyche, DT, 6-4, 330 Norfolk (VA)/East Los Angeles College
Another player that can come in and give Miami immediate help up front, Wyche is big, strong, fast and because he's a junior college transfer, will come in with a mature frame that can help him compete for immediate playing time.
• Kc McDermott, OL, Wellington/Palm Beach Central High
Early enrollee is already on campus and according to Golden, has made strides in the weight room. Younger brother of current Hurricanes lineman Shane McDermott, he can play both OT positions.
REST OF THE CLASS
Braxton Berrios, WR, 5-9, 181, Raleigh (NC)/Leesville Road
Tyre Brady, WR, 6-3, 180, Miami/Carol City