Miami Hurricanes

Blowing It Down

By: Robert Craft news services

Meet rock bottom. Square one. That’s good news or bad news depending on your viewpoint.

Maybe it had to sink like this to inspire the type of reform the Miami Hurricanes are set to see.

But after two decades of mediocrity, it is time.

Welcome to the nuclear reboot.

The season ending loss to Pittsburgh ended too many weeks of opponents throwing upside-down U’s. A tweet sent out by Pittsburgh’s athletic department Saturday night ridiculing UM for kicking a field goal to avert a shutout says it all.

The entire state of being is really bad right now. It stinks. It’s a character tester. Just don’t play the blame game: the list runs too deep and it is irrelevant in today’s discussion.

Does it matter if a roster devoid of impact talent is Manny Diaz’ fault? Or Blake James’ fault. Does Al Golden still get blamed for not firing Mark D’Onofrio?

Does Mario Cristobal get his hand slapped in year one for everything not going perfectly after arriving 12 months ago and staffing an entire football program in a few short weeks.

It is time to look forward, not backward. The rear-view mirror is absolutely horrifying. Rip that thing off the dashboard and smash it into sand, it’s time to embrace the change.

The disastrous 2022 football season is over, but you won’t recognize the Miami Hurricanes come September. Miami hired Cristobal to build a championship team, and his job really starts now. This minute. This second. Time’s ticking.

All was not a waste of time in 2022. Cristobal laid a foundation of expectation. He solidified the University investment in football and was the driving force behind the NIL operations that now exist behind the scenes.

Cristobal can’t be happy about what he found at Miami, or anything else that went wrong this year in this season of hell. It has been a whirlwind, but as far as I know, his agent is not trying to find him a new job.

He wasn’t a candidate at Auburn.

Cristobal must embrace the challenge of the fix here and the work involved. The bottom line is that the Hurricanes will have about 40 new players next season. That’s half a roster.

It is harsh. It is cold. The roster purge is about to take place, which could result in as many as 25-30 players with eligibility left sent to the transfer portal, it is also very necessary for the rebuild. Put simply there is no other way out. Miami fans have been riding and watching the merry-go-round and rollercoaster for two decades.

There will be exit meetings with Cristobal and his staff in the next few days that will result in many more departures by choice or (in some cases) not.

Every one of the 85 roster spots is a valuable commodity right now. Each player will have to prove his worth this year to own one of the spots going into the new year.

This is an unprecedented opportunity for Miami to fix its football program if it can land the right replacements. NCAA rules give new head coaches 18 months to make unlimited roster changes.

Current NCAA rules also allow unlimited signees and transfer additions as long as a program stays under the 85-man roster limit.

Miami didn’t hire Cristobal and pay him $8 million a year because it thought that the program was going to be playing for the national title this year. Cristobal was hired for his recruiting prowess and to push the team in that direction in years to come.

There are lots of good college football teams, but what made Miami “The U” was the SWAGGER!!

Cristobal may make the Canes an ACC contender again, but I’m not sure the SWAGGER will follow!!!

The Miami Sprinkles

By: Robert Craft news services

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

At his lowest point of his time at Miami, Mario Cristobal, down three touchdowns to Middle Tennessee State (the 2022 edition of 2019’s FIU debacle) he decided to welcome a quarterback controversy.

And there it was, at the 7:55 mark of the third quarter, “finally” in the minds of the freaked-out fans in attendance- screaming and chanting for Jake Garcia; Cristobal benched Tyler Van Dyke and brought Garcia into the action.

You can’t make this drama up. Garcia came in absolutely on fire. He threw a 39-yard pass in stride to Keyshawn Smith (Smith also had a kickoff return for a touchdown).

Garcia was one of the few Hurricanes to show individual skill progress this week. Thad Franklin scored on a one-yard run the very next play and Miami was down 31-17 with 6:08 left in the third quarter.

The Garcia show continued to some degree for the remainder of the game – he finished 10-19 for 169 yards – but by now we all saw; it was not enough.

Miami lost 45-31 to Middle Tennessee State in a complete, utter and embarrassing organizational failure. This loss negated much of the hard work Mario Cristobal and his staff have put in since arriving in December.

Teams lose a game like this, and frankly, it ends up not being the end of the world- as long as they bounce back. Texas A&M lost to Appalachian State at home and then beat Miami and Arkansas.

If the Hurricanes rally to still win the Coastal, this nightmare will be washed away. Right now, however, the nightmare is piercing the soul of fans wondering if that will happen because of the way the week has evolved.

Here’s some real talk: Van Dyke really is the same guy who had six 300-yard games to end the 2021 season. Nothing else from 2021 to now is the same. Absolutely nothing, and dealing with that has been the key component in this mass decline of QB performances.

New head coach. New offensive coordinator. New offensive system. Best receivers from last year, Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley, gone without suitable replacements.

Even with the encouraging improvement Saturday of Key’shawn Smith and Frank Ladson, it’s not working.

All the quarterback talk has masked the fact that Miami seemed to have nothing in the tank at the line of scrimmage. Some will call that an excuse, but these were the same guys who got pushed around last week against Texas A&M.

The issue in the game was that the passing game wasn’t there. Chemistry and depth are the main receiver issues. That’s compounded by a new offensive system by Gattis, not to mention, it is still quite early in the season.

The cloud looming above Coral Gables is the Gattis offense. Let’s see if it’s a good fit for Van Dyke or if the transfer portal is on the horizon.

So far, through four games, the answer seems to be leaning toward the second option.

That, however, can change quickly if Van Dyke can get things back on track with the rest of the offense.

It doesn’t get any easier for Miami, who begins conference play with North Carolina after a bye week.

Luckily, the Hurricanes will avoid heavy hitters like Clemson and Pittsburgh until the final weeks of the season, yet nothing is guaranteed for Miami after losing to Middle Tennessee State.

Is this the most embarrassing loss in modern Miami history?

Hurricane Warning

By: Robert Craft news services

Following a humbling defeat at the hands of Appalachian State, Texas A&M dropped all the way to No. 24 in the AP Poll this week.

You won’t hear Miami Hurricanes Coach Mario Cristobal talking much about that, not before Miami makes a ‘business trip’ to College Station this weekend.

The first-year Miami head coach harped on that term repeatedly in his press conference on Monday ahead of Saturday’s big road game.

Miami, of course, has been excellent through two weeks. The Hurricanes have smashed both Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss.

Neither will present the kind of challenge Texas A&M will, but the Aggies have not been firing on all cylinders so far this season. The Hurricanes are aware of that, yet seem primarily focused on themselves this week.

Cristobal was quick to heap praise on the Aggies, even though their starting quarterback Haynes King has struggled mightily (even Jimbo Fisher stated there may be a quarterback change).

To that end, Cristobal simply needs to show players A&M’s recruiting results.

Even if the talent hasn’t gelled just yet at Texas A&M, it’s clear the Aggies have it in spades. Texas A&M’s 2022 recruiting class ranked No. 1 nationally.

Whatever happens Saturday, one thing is sure: Cristobal will learn a lot from Miami’s business trip.

The Miami Hurricanes have won 5 of their last 7 road games. Tyler Van Dyke is completing 73.9 percent of his passes for 456 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

Xavier Resterpo and Michael Redding III have combined for 248 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, while Brashard Smith has 6 receptions.

The Miami Hurricanes ground game is averaging 241 yards per contest, and Henry Parrish Jr. leads the way with 217 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Defensively, Miami is allowing 10 points and 286.5 yards per game. Corey Flagg Jr. leads the Miami Hurricanes with 10 tackles, Jacob Lichtenstein has 1 sack and James Williams has 1 interception.

The Texas A&M Aggies have won 5 of their last 6 home games. Haynes King is completing 64.7 percent of his passes for 461 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Ainias Smith and Evan Stewart have combined for 290 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, while Yulkeith Brown has 4 receptions.

The Texas A&M Aggies ground game is averaging 99.5 yards per contest, and Devon Achane leads the way with 108 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Defensively, Texas A&M is allowing 8.5 points and 256.5 yards per game. Antonio Johnson leads the Texas A&M Aggies with 17 tackles, LT Overton has 1 sack and Jardin Gilbert has 1 interception.

Neither team looked great last week, but I’ll chalk some of it up to both clubs looking ahead to this game, which has playoff implications.

With that said, there’s some real concern for the Texas A&M Aggies, who haven’t gotten any offense going through 2 games. Texas A&M can’t run the ball and is 102nd in total offense and 102nd in scoring offense.

The Miami-FL Hurricanes have one of the better quarterbacks in the country, and he currently has a top-20 rushing attack supporting him.

Texas A&M is currently 86th in run defense. Miami will steal this game on the road.

Miami 27   Texas A&M 17


Category 5

By: Robert Craft news services

The University of Miami ended the 2021 season with 7 wins. They’re entering 2022 with new coaching staff.

So, as I look at this year’s schedule for the Hurricanes, it’s not hard to predict that this team can … and perhaps should be… a 10-win team.

The three tough games? Texas A&M, Clemson and Pittsburgh, putting those in order of toughness.

If you believe in the oddsmakers, Miami’s No. 3 in the conference at +700 to win the ACC behind Clemson -150 and Pitt + 450 (per

With that said, here’s how I see this year shaping up:

* Bethune-Cookman, Sept. 3: Easy win. 1-0 record.

* Southern Miss, Sept 10: Easy win. 2-0 record.

* Texas A&M, Sept. 17: This is a team that beat Alabama last year but went on to lose four games but with a great defensive front and receiver room this is going to be a very tough road game for Miami. Texas A&M wins by 14, Miami leaves College Station with a 2-1 record.

* Middle Tennessee State, Sept. 24: Easy win, 3-1 record.

* North Carolina, Oct. 8: UNC loses its star quarterback, Sam Howell, and this is a team that has question marks on both sides of the ball off a disappointing 6-7 season. At home, I like the Canes to win by a touchdown or more. 4-1 record.

* Virginia Tech, Oct. 15: It’s never a gimme playing on the road against the Hokies, but on paper Miami is a much better and more complete team. So, I think this will be a win by a touchdown or more. 5-1 record.

* Duke, Oct. 22: The Blue Devils are probably going to be the worst team in the ACC. 6-1 record.

* Virginia, Oct. 29: This team always seems to give the Canes problems, with Brennan Armstrong back at QB, this might be a high scoring game. On the road this is a game you worry about, but if Miami is as good as I think, then this middle-of-the-road ACC team shouldn’t be a problem. It might be a close game, but I believe Miami will pull it out for a 7-1 record.

* Florida State, Nov. 5: The Canes lost a heartbreaker in Tallahassee a year ago, but this year they get FSU at home. Is FSU as talented a team as UM?  No, not really. UM wins this heated rivalry and moves to 8-1.

* Georgia Tech, Nov. 12: The Yellow Jackets are not a good team. Easy win and 9-1.

* Clemson, Nov. 19: It was a down year for Clemson in 2021, and the team still won 10 games, so that tells you the hill Miami has to climb. The Tigers have question marks on offense, a really inconsistent area last season, but should have one of the nation’s top defenses. This will be a tough game for Miami to pull out on the road. While I’m not saying UM can’t win this, in all likelihood it’s a loss simply looking at it on paper. So, Miami is looking at a 9-2 record at this point of the season.

* Pittsburgh, Nov. 26: The Panthers were a surprise last year, winning the Coastal and finishing with an 11-3 record (Pitt’s lone Coastal loss was to the Canes). Miami has this game at home, and it could wind up determining which of these two teams goes to the ACC title game. To me, this is a 50-50 game. So, I see Miami finishing the regular season at a 10-2 record and rematch with Clemson in the ACC Championship.

If it all comes together, I can see Miami perhaps only losing one or two games – Texas A&M and/or Clemson.

In Year 1 there are bound to be some hiccups, but Canes fans can be hopeful with a manageable schedule to test the new generation of coaching in Coral Gables.

Canes QB

By: Robert Craft news services

First-year Miami football coach Mario Cristobal considers himself lucky to have inherited a loaded quarterback room.

Cristobal faces a daunting task of attempting to rebuild the Hurricanes program, but it is made a bit less intimidating with the knowledge of whom he will have under center at QB.

Miami returns last year’s starter Tyler Van Dyke. He assumed the role as a redshirt freshman after D’Eriq King went down with injury in Week 3.

Van Dyke went on to prove he belonged there, throwing for 2,931 yards, 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions to earn ACC Rookie of the Year. He enters 2022 as the unquestioned starter and a potential NFL Draft pick.

Mario Cristobal has enormous praise for Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.

Evidently, the new leader of the program believes his quarterback can ascend into a superstar. Cristobal compared Van Dyke to Los Angeles Chargers star quarterback, Justin Herbert — Cristobal’s quarterback at Oregon.

Cristobal also thinks highly of redshirt freshman Jake Garcia, who appeared in one game last year before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Garcia is a former four-star recruit who ranked as the No. 52 overall player and No. 10 quarterback in the 2021 class.

“We’re very lucky that we have a very good quarterback room,” Cristobal said in a recent interview. “In fact, one of them is already a projected NFL player if he continues to develop and have a great season. But he’s not alone. You’ve got a guy who was hurt early last season in Jake Garcia. Him and Tyler have got to make the best one-two punch of any quarterback room in the country.”

The talent in the Miami quarterback room doesn’t stop there. The Hurricanes signed four-star recruit Jacurri Brown, the No. 18 quarterback in the 2022 class. Brown is dual-threat and threw for more than 3,000 yards while rushing for over 2,000 the past two years at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia. He was an early enrollee this spring, where Cristobal said he was impressed with how he managed to fit in.

“They brought in Jacurri Brown, who joins us as the most prolific passer and winner in Georgia high school history,” the Hurricanes coach said. “A phenomenal athlete and human being who joins these guys. Got here as an early enrollee, which is always fun. It’s like getting dropped off in some place where you have to learn to get to know everybody and know processes. The simplicity of attaining a Cane card is as difficult as you can imagine. But Jacurri has adapted really well and he’s ready to roll, so we feel great about that room.”

Miami is set to enter their first season under coach Mario Cristobal following a disappointing 7-5 season this past year.

As a former Championship Winning offensive lineman with the Canes in 89 and 91, Cristobal understands the importance of rebuilding this program. The Hurricanes have only one 10-win season in the past 18 years.

Cristobal still has a long way to go in his rebuilding of the program, but he at least has a solid foundation at the most important position in offense.

He will get his first opportunity to put that talent to use when Miami opens the 2022 season on Sept. 3 against Bethune-Cookman.

New Winds For Hurricanes

By: Robert Craft news services

Mario Cristobal and the Miami football staff assembled a stellar 2022 class in less than two months.

Defensive lineman Nykalik Kelly and Cyrus Moss rank in the top 100. Tight end Jaleel Skinner and running back Trevonte’ Citizen are in the next 10.

Rivals.Com analyzed and ranked the 2022 classes in the ACC. Miami is much lower in the rankings by Rivals than 247 Sports’ composite rankings. The Hurricanes are ranked fourth in the ACC and 34th overall by Rivals. In the 247 Sports Composite rankings, Miami is third in the ACC and 15th overall.

Cristobal did not panic with a lower-ranked class when he was hired. Miami has the second-highest ranked average per player in the ACC by 247 Sports and Rivals. Cristobal put an emphasis on signing blue-chip players instead of filling out an entire class. Miami has roster spots available for transfers and 2023.

Citizen, Kelly, Moss and Skinner are the foundation of the 2022 Miami class. Kelly and Moss should be part of the Miami rotation on the DL in 2022.

Miami signed 14 players in that Class and added five transfers. Cristobal has stated that Miami might not be finished adding to the roster.

Moten was an import signing late for Miami on National Signing Day. Miami improved their depth at defensive tackle with the Cardinal Gibbons star.

Eight of the 14 Miami signees and all five transfers committed to the Hurricanes after Cristobal was hired. Cristobal secured several 2022 signees who are projected as impact players.

Miami will make the line of scrimmage a priority under their new Head Coach. Eight of the 19 players new to Miami football are on the line of scrimmage.

Miami lost out on five-star DL Shemar Stewart, who signed with Texas A&M however, the Hurricanes will win more of those caliber recruits with Cristobal leading the program.

The Miami football program has a blue-chip (four and five-star players) of 71 percent in the Class of 2022 with 10 of their 14 signees being four-stars.  Having a roster of at least 50 percent blue-chip players is the standard in the State of Florida.

Cristobal and the Miami football program signed qualitatively to achieve the nation’s 15 ranked class.

Miami didn’t need to stack their class with numbers to achieve a recruiting class full of fool’s gold. The Hurricanes 2022 signees have the seventh-highest average rating nationally and is top in the ACC.

Miami was able to finish with the 15th best average span from 2017-2021 despite the Hurricanes 2018 class finishing 28th. The 2018, 28th ranked class was the worst of the top 15 programs from 2017 through 2021.

Cristobal has routinely been praised as an elite recruiter. In the three full classes that Cristobal signed at Oregon, the Ducks averaged 8.3 nationally. At Oregon, Cristobal had to sign a near-complete recruiting class from out of state. At Miami, Cristobal will be able to do a significant amount of recruiting in South Florida.

Stock is up on Miami and Mario Cristobal!

Game Changer

By: Robert Craft news services

Mario Cristobal is heading home.

The Cuban-American, who won two national titles at Miami while playing for the Hurricanes, is set to become the program’s next head coach according to multiple reports.

It’s a monumental acquisition for Miami and one that will have major recruiting implications, not only in the Sunshine State, but across the country with the Early Signing Period less than two weeks away.

Some members of the media may point to Oregon’s flat performance in last week’s Pac-12 title game and try to knock the hire for Miami.

They might point to Miami’s clumsy handling of the Manny Diaz situation, too. That criticism is fair, but those same individuals need to understand what exactly the Hurricanes are getting in Cristobal; a battle-tested recruiter that’s going to get the best talent to Coral Gables.

Since Cristobal took over for Willie Taggart in Eugene, the Ducks have signed the nation’s No. 6, No. 7, No. 11 and No. 13-ranked recruiting classes.

This year’s group is pacing to finish ranked inside the top 10, as well. To the average college football fan, that might not seem impressive — good programs should get good players — but Oregon isn’t exactly a football hotbed. In fact, the state has produced less than a dozen NFL Draft picks over the past five years.

So, with Cristobal and his staff not really in a position to shop in their backyard every cycle, they have had to recruit nationally, and Cristobal has had plenty of success doing just that.

Back in 2019, the Ducks went into Los Angeles and beat out college football’s best pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, the nation’s top-ranked prospect.

Impressive, but what should have Miami fans excited about the Cristobal hire is the fact that Cristobal isn’t going to have to recruit nationally like he did at Oregon.

The Hurricanes can turn into a College Football Playoff contender with recruits nearby in the Sunshine State, and more specifically South Florida.

South Florida is overstocked with blue-chip talent every year. That means all Cristobal really has to do is keep a bulk of the five and four-stars home every cycle.

It would be a bit ridiculous to assume that Cristobal will sign everyone within an hour drive of Miami’s campus (Nick Saban is always going to get his and it’s starting to look that way with Kirby Smart) but his name should have the Hurricanes in position to land a lot of talent as the general feeling inside the ever so powerful South Florida high school football circles is that Cristobal gets it: that means coaches and parents will want their kids to play for Cristobal.



The Bright Sunshine

By: Robert Craft news services

It has been cloudy in The Sunshine State for the Big Four (UF, FSU, UCF & Miami). All four teams recently suffered setbacks and the storm clouds are building up around a couple programs.

Miami and Florida State are on the list of programs with a name that inspires nostalgia and memorable expectations, but with little or no reference to recent big-time success.

Manny Diaz and Mike Norvell may not be on the “hot seat” right now, but with recent performances their seat will be red hot in no time.

Speculation about Diaz and Norvell seems sure to start. Who could replace them in Coral Gables and Tallahassee? If fans had their way, both would be gone immediately.

Here’s a realistic list of replacements, so you won’t see James Franklin, Deion Sanders, Mario Cristobal, or Urban Meyer on this list.

  1. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota head coach: Fleck has a 27-20 record with two bowl game wins that includes an Outback Bowl win over Auburn.

Fleck is known for his motto Row the Boat. I could see Fleck leaving Minnesota for a high-end job like Florida State or Miami. In some respects (as bad as things are at UM and FSU), Fleck could be rowing his boat in Florida water next year.

  1. Mark Stoops, Kentucky head coach: In his ninth season, Stoops has a 52-50 record.

The Wildcats are a basketball school, but Stoops has made them somewhat respectable. Stoops has ties to the last of Miami’s glory days; he was the defensive back coach under Larry Coker from 2001-2003.

Both teams would prefer Mark’s brother Bob, but among realistic candidates, they’ll settle with Mark.

  1. Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina head coach: Chadwell hit the national radar with an 11-1 record in 2020.

Chadwell has built his system quickly during his time as a head coach. Coastal Carolina went from three, to five, to 11 wins in Chadwell’s first three seasons.

Coastal Carolina couldn’t afford to keep Chadwell if either Florida State or Miami came calling. Chadwell’s track record of building a winner will bring Power 5 money, so watch out for his name.

  1. Lane Kiffen, Ole’ Miss head coach: Kiffen has been the head coach for the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers, USC Trojans, Florida Atlantic Owls and his current gig with Ole’ Miss.

Kiffen is a relentless recruiter and offensive mastermind. His name will be thrown into discussion for every job opening in 2021.

He would be a perfect fit with both programs, because he knows the terrain and he’s a fierce competitor.

1.Tony Elliott, Clemson Offensive Coordinator:  This OC has been in talks for several jobs in past years.

He has been waiting for the right job and most importantly, a big-time job.

Elliott has the best resumé and accolades for a non-head coach. He is a respected recruiter in the South Florida area, and that is essential to building a college football program. If Elliott is to become a head coach, it will likely be a blue blood.

Getting the hires right for Miami and Florida State is extremely important for the trajectory of these once dominant programs.

Contrarily, this article can be for nothing if Miami and Florida State turn it around on the field with their current Head Coaches.

Hurricane Force

By: Jeff Doke news services

The Miami Hurricanes are never short on swagger. Could this be the year they back it up on the field?

Miami cruised thru most of their 2020 schedule (save for the lopsided mid-season loss at Clemson) before the wheels fell off at the end.

Their regular season finale was an embarrassing 36-point loss in a shootout to North Carolina, and a 3-point loss to Oklahoma State in their bowl game. That left the Hurricanes with an 8-3 record on the season.

In the months since, Miami has been one of the more successful programs in the transfer portal, adding DE Deandre Johnson from Tennessee and CB Tyrique Stevenson from Georgia on defense, as well as quite possibly the best name currently in college football on offense in WR Charleston Rambo from Oklahoma.

In addition to the transfers, Head Coach Manny Diaz has also managed to keep several upperclassmen from testing the waters in the NFL, most notably QB D’Eriq King.

The signal caller had already announced his intention to stay for a final year in college before he tore his ACL in the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl loss to Oklahoma State.

A Herculean rehab effort in the months between have landed King back among the ranks of the healthy, and back in the starting QB slot for the upcoming season.

He won’t have the luxury of easing into the season, though. The ‘Canes start off their 2021 campaign against the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Miami faithful, however, are cautiously hopeful going into the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against the defending National Champions, with many actually predicting an upset victory over the Tide. Their quarterback has a lot to do with that.

With the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to Covid, the sixth year senior King will arguably have an advantage over first year starter Bryce Young.

In addition to King, the ‘Canes also have a slew of returning talent on offense – RB Cam’Ron Harris, WRs Mike Harley and the previously mentioned Rambo, TE Will Mallory, and linemen Jarrid Williams, Navaughn Donaldson, and Center Corey Gaynor.

The Defensive side of the ball also seems to have reloaded effectively as well, with fourth year DBs Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall and CB DJ Ivey leading the way.

DTs Nesta Jade Silvera and Jon Ford are fourth year players as well, as are DEs Zach McCloud and Deandre Johnson.

In short, game experience is not something the 2021 Miami squad will be short on. Whether that experience will be enough to dethrone the champs in the season opener is yet to be seen, but should be entertaining at least.

After the season opener, the Hurricanes schedule looks to be manageable, thanks to the lack of quality competition in most of the rest of the ACC. Right now, the only games that the Hurricanes aren’t favored to win are North Carolina & Florida State.

The Tarheels will be a tough opponent again, and it would take a lot of things to go right for Miami to avenge their 62-26 loss.

Florida State, on the other hand, always seems to play down to their competition, especially against in-state rivals. If I had to pick an upset to go their way this year, the ‘Noles game would be the one.

While I would be giddy if Miami could knock off Bama in the season opener, I just don’t see it happening. My prediction for “The U” is to wrap up the regular season with a 10-2 record with losses to Alabama and North Carolina, and an upset victory against Florida State.

Whether this slight improvement over a less than impressive slate of opponents would be enough to put them in the National Championship discussion is doubtful. Starting the season 1-0 would go a long way towards improving those chances.


Recruiting Wars

By: Robert Craft news services

I am handing out grades to the following teams’ recruiting classes following the early Signing Period for the class of 2021.

Considering the challenges all coaches have to deal with while recruiting during the pandemic, there is plenty of praise and blame to go around for Miami, UCF and Florida State.

Recruiting has three periods: Early Signing, National Signing Day, and Transfer Portal. I’ll be looking at the Early Signing Period and Transfer Portal.

Grading any recruiting class is a subjective venture. I determine grades based on the balance of talent level that is brought in, alongside with how the class addresses needs on the roster.

Miami: The Hurricanes earned the signatures of 21 players during the first day of the Early Signing Period. When the dust settled, the Hurricanes had the 11th class in the nation and 2nd class in the ACC.

Miami put a big emphasis on locking down the best players from South Florida (15 of the 21 signees are from Miami-Dade and Broward County).

The keystones of this Hurricane class are five-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor and safety James Williams.

Miami also flipped four-star quarterback Jake Garcia from USC. The Hurricanes still need to add a couple more offensive linemen and cornerbacks. I’m giving Miami an A-.

UCF: The Knights had 19 players sign and one transfer. The Knights rank 61st Nationally and 4th in the AAC.

UCF focused on the defensive side of the ball with 11 defensive players signing.

Anthony Hundley signed with the Knights after decommitting from LSU.  The Miami native had offers from Florida State, Michigan and Ole’ Miss.

Mikey Keene became the third quarterback to sign with the Knights since Josh Heupel took over. The Arizona native passed for 5,089 yards and 47 touchdowns during his time at Chandler High School.

Former Virginia quarterback RJ Harvey transferred to the Knights; however, he will play at running back.

UCF is a program unlike the others in this article, their recruiting budget is 1/10th that of the other schools. The Knights will add a few more pieces in February and use the Transfer Portal to fill out their class, but the grade for the Knights is C+.

Florida State: The Seminole fans hoping that the football program was going to take a dramatic, positive turn in the first year under new head coach Mike Norvell were in for a rude reality check.

The prized newcomer for the Seminoles won’t be a freshman, but rather, former UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. If Milton is healthy, this is a talented game changer for Florida State.

This is the first class in modern day FSU history that has not included a five-star player.

In addition, the Seminoles only have one player ranked inside the top 250.

Norvell is very clearly trying to revamp the FSU defense with 10 of their 16 commits on that side of the ball.

Hunter Washington is the Seminole’s highest ranked recruit, and he is a bit undersized at 5 foot 11 and 175 pounds. Hunter Washington, Malik McClain, Shambre Jackson, Omarion Cooper, Rod Orr and Patrick Payton anchor Novell’s second class.

Florida State ranks 22nd Nationally and 4th in the ACC.

The Seminoles have a lot of work ahead of them to raise the talent level of their roster. Norvell must utilize the Transfer Portal. My grade for Florida State would be a D- but the arrival of McKenzie Milton alone raises it to a B-.