CORAL GABLES — With NCAA sanctions no longer hovering over the program, Miami's class is touted as its best since Al Golden became coach four years ago.
There were no late steals from other schools. And while not full of five- and four-star prospects, the depth prompted rivals.com to rank the class 12th in the nation while scout.com ranked it 11th.
"We have a lot of guys that everybody wanted," Golden said.
"In years past, we haven't been in that business to the extent we were this year. I think that's a reflection of moving the program forward and not having the NCAA to deal with."
Worst wait: After late drama, DE Chad Thomas signed. The longtime oral commitment set Miami fans' nerves on edge recently by visiting — and raving about — Alabama. He also considered Florida State.
Ultimately, though, he stepped up to the podium, announced he was attending Miami, threw up the "U" with his hands and pulled out a Hurricanes jacket.
"I'm a man of my word. If I say something, I'm going to do it," said Thomas, the No. 3 defensive end in the nation, according to 247sports.com. "I was just thinking. Everyone comes to that point in their life when they have to think about something and make a decision.
"I just thought about it a lot over this past month, and it still came down to UM."
Still teammates: DE Demetrius Jackson, Thomas' teammate at Miami Washington and also a longtime oral commitment, signed without the drama. The consensus four-star recruited is considered a raw prospect after playing basketball for most of his life.
He was emotional soon after signing his letter of intent and said he's counting the moments until he arrives in Coral Gables.
"I never would have thought I'd be going to the University of Miami for football," Jackson said. "That shows you how God works. It's an amazing feeling. I'm still speechless. I wish my grandmother was here to see this. It's a great experience. You never think you'll be at this point in time."
Still teammates as well: OL Nick Linder and DT Anthony Moten of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas will remain together with the Hurricanes.
Moten is the No. 7 defensive tackle in the nation, according to rivals.com.
"The (Miami) coaches mentioned it from Day 1 of my senior year, 'We need you. We need you,' " he said. "Even when I committed to Florida, they stayed with me, and I wanted to go somewhere that needed me."
Linder, whose brother is former Hurricanes offensive lineman Brandon Linder, is a consensus three-star recruit.
"It's a huge thing growing up and always rooting for Miami," he said. "And watching Brandon play there for the past four years, knowing that's my destiny right now … I couldn't be happier right now."
Got away: DT Travonte Valentine of Hialeah had orally committed. But he reopened his recruiting last month and on Wednesday signed with LSU.
Information from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel was used in this report.