Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Team Recruiting Countdown: No. 3 Miami Hurricanes

No. 3 Miami Hurricanes (ACC No. 1)

2008 Haul: 33 signees, 8 Athlon Consensus 100

Scouting Report:

Randy Shannon played defense for the Hurricanes when he was winning championships for The U, so it is no surprise that he is building his championship hopes on defense first. This is one of the top defensive classes in the nation, if not the best.

Four defensive lineman, six linebackers, six defensive backs and a couple of athletes that could play either offense or defense are headed to Coral Gables. Marcus Forston (Miami, Fla.), who anchors the D-line, is the top defensive tackle in the nation and is already practicing with the Canes this spring. This is bad news for ACC O-lines everywhere. Jeremy Lewis (West Palm Beach, Fla.) will also add some needed depth.

The top linebacker class in the nation is headlined by Arthur Brown (Wichita, Kan.). The tackling machine is followed closely by a group of speedy, versatile prospects. Jordan Futch (Miami, Fla.), Marcus Robinson (Homestead, Fla.) and Sean Spence (Miami, Fla.) all have the athleticism to play safety if needed. They can all run and they can all hit. The days of the fast, aggressive, attacking Miami linebackers is sure to continue into the near future.

As mentioned, team needs may push a few of those linebackers into different roles. Even without any help from the backers, the defensive back class is very strong. Brandon Harris (Miami, Fla.) may be the most ready to play cornerback in the entire nation. C.J. Holton (Crawfordville, Fla.) and Vaughn Telemaque (Long Beach, Calif.) are two playmakers that Shannon adds to his secondary. Athletes Davon Johnson (Miami, Fla.) and Travis Benjamin (Belle Glade, Fla.) could both find themselves knocking down passes instead of catching them. Both are lightning fast and are more likely to play offense.

With the departure of Kyle Wright (NFL Draft) and Kirby Freeman (Baylor), the quarterback position at Miami is very thin. Redshirt frosh Robert Marve has a leg up on winning the job, but this class certainly affords Shannon options. Miami landed three passers in this class. The athletic, state champion Jacory Harris (Miami, Fla.), the huge 6-foot-7 Taylor Cook (Altair, Texas) and appropriately named prep passer Cannon Smith (Chatham, Va.) all head to Coral Gables with hopes of dethroning Marve.

One of the stalwarts of Miami championship teams was offensive playmakers on the outside – Andre Johnson, Michael Irvin, Santana Moss, etc. This wide receiver class should make up for recruiting misses in Lance Leggett and Ryan Moore. Aldarius Johnson (Miami, Fla.) and Tommy Streeter (Miami, Fla.) are the top two talents and are used to playing together as they have been on the same offense all through high school (Northwestern HS). Davon Johnson is an absolute burner and Travis Benjamin will remind Miami fans of the smaller slot receivers (Moss, Parrish). Thearon Collier (Miami, Fla.), LaRon Byrd (Boutte, La.) and Kendall Thompkins (Miami, Fla.) add a ton of depth to the wideout corp.

Depending on the line of demarcation, 20 prospects out of the 33 total hail from South Florida. 12 of those 20 hail from Miami (not counting Hollywood or Homestead). Further still, seven of those 12 Miami based kids played ball together at Northwestern High in Miami. Shannon pulled off a clean sweep of the state champions, landing all seven of them.

Top Prospect: Marcus Forston – DT – Miami, Fla. (6-2, 293) AC100 No. 11

For a prospect that is 6-2, Forston looks to have a squatty build that is ideal for defensive tackle. It is this thickness that makes him such a powerful force up the middle. He gets great push up the middle and shows the ability to play all three downs from his tackle spot. Against the run, he holds his ground very well, using great lower body strength to control the line of scrimmage.

Forston is not just a big, lumbering 300-pounder, though. He has quick feet and shows great quickness and burst coming out of his stance. He also uses refined hand technique to manipulate blockers. His above-average athleticism also give him the ability to flow down the line and help on outside plays — a rare commodity for a run-stuffing, hulking defensive tackle.

Forston, much like UNC’s Marvin Austin last year, absolutely dominated the line at the U.S. Army All-American game. He will be the linchpin of the Miami defense for the next few seasons.

Best of the Rest:

Arthur Brown – LB – Wichita, Kan. (6-1, 216) AC100 No. 7
Aldarius Johnson – WR – Miami, Fla. (6-2, 195) AC100 No. 30
Brandon Harris – CB – Miami, Fla. (5-10, 175) AC100 No. 47
Ramon Buchanan – DB – Melbourne, Fla. (6-0, 195) AC100 No. 66
Marcus Robinson – LB – Homestead, Fla. (6-2, 220) AC100 No. 73
Jordan Futch – LB – Hollywood, Fla. (6-3, 205) AC100 No. 86
Sean Spence – ATH – Miami, Fla. (6-0, 190) AC100 No. 88
Davon Johnson – ATH – Miami, Fla. (5-11, 170) 
Tommy Streeter – WR – Miami, Fla. (6-5, 200)
C.J. Holton – S – Crawfordville, Fla. (6-2, 195)

Sleeper: Travis Benjamin – ATH – Belle Glade, Fla. (5-10, 150)

This kid is VERY small, but he packs a punch. Benjamin is lightning quick and gets to full speed in no time. He could be very dangerous in a slot receiver roll or as a cover corner. He has great change of direction ability and wonderful athleticism. He also could be a dangerous return man. He is very similar in build to that of Roscoe Parrish or Sinorice Moss.

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