National Signing Day is Wednesday. Did you forget?
If you did, it’s because there’s not as much hoopla surrounding it as there once was.
To have a quiet first Wednesday of February once was an indictment on a college football program, a sign it was going in a poor direction.
These days, since the inception of the Early Signing Period four recruiting cycles ago, it’s a symbol of a team getting out in front of its recruiting class, securing it by the end of the prior season. It’s something that was especially important amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sure, in the past four years, the Miami Hurricanes have still had their share of National Signing Day headlines, even with the growing popularity of early signings. Last year, the top-ranked recruit in Miami’s 2020 class, safety Avantae Williams from DeLand, chose the Hurricanes over the Florida Gators in a Signing Day stunner. Current senior defensive tackle Nesta Silvera dropped the famous “Why not make the crib great?” quote in solidifying his pledge to UM at his American Heritage ceremony in February of 2018.
This time around, there is no momentum building toward a big decision for a prospect that Miami is in the thick of a recruiting battle for. There aren’t even unsigned commitments that either wanted the extra month and a half to finalize their decision or committed in the time between signing periods.
All 21 members of the 2021 recruiting class signed in December. Barring any surprise, the Hurricanes don’t appear to be adding another high school recruit. They also brought in three key transfers in cornerback Tyrique Stevenson (Georgia), wide receiver Charleston Rambo (Oklahoma) and defensive end Deandre Johnson (Tennessee). Stevenson and Johnson are making homecomings as Miami Southridge grads.
The recruits already signed make up a star-studded group headlined by five-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor from Miami Palmetto, five-star safety James Williams from American Heritage and four-star quarterback Jake Garcia from California who played his senior year of high school in Georgia.
Of the 24 total players coming in, 11 are already showing up on UM’s online roster, enrolled for the spring semester ahead of the fall season — the three transfers and eight of the high school recruits: Garcia, tight end Elijah Arroyo, kicker Andres Borregales, defensive end Thomas Davis, safety Kamren Kinchens, offensive tackle Michael McLaughlin, striker Chase Smith and linebacker Deshawn Troutman.
In lieu of hat tricks from prized recruits and Miami receiving faxed letters of intent signed from their prospects, the Hurricanes instead will hold introductory web conferences for their new members of the defensive coaching staff, which has been the other storyline for this team since the conclusion of the season.
Coach Manny Diaz revamped the look of his staff on defense. He’s not going with a labeled defensive coordinator, announcing he will take over defensive play-calling duties, and ex-defensive coordinator Blake Baker joined LSU’s staff as linebackers coach.
Diaz is bringing back Jess Simpson to coach Miami’s defensive line. Simpson returns to UM, where he was in 2018, after spending the past two seasons in the same role with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. Diaz promoted DeMarcus Van Dyke, a former player, to cornerbacks coach from assistant director of recruiting. Travaris Robinson, a Miami native that has had various SEC stops, was brought in to coach defensive backs, and Travis Williams is the new linebackers coach, coming over from Auburn.
As a bonus, Diaz added longtime defensive coordinator Bob Shoop to a support staff role of defensive quality control coach. Robinson also has coordinator experience at South Carolina, and former assistants coaches Todd Stroud (defensive line) and Mike Rumph (cornerbacks) are still with the team’s support staff.