Miami coach Dennis Erickson said the Hurricanes' recruits fit the team's needs. But the defending national champions filled those needs with players not rated highly by most recruiting experts. Only two players among the 16 who signed commitments Wednesday were listed in SuperPrep magazine's top 100. Offensive tackle Anthony Lewis was rated 11th among offensive lineman and defensive back Carl Richardson was No. 2 as an athlete.
"It's certainly a list that lacks glitz," said Allen Wallace, who publishes SuperPrep. "But I'm very hesitant to knock Miami. They do an excellent job because the players they recruit produce. I would rate their group somewhere between 14 and 18 (in the nation). I think they expected to do better going into the day."
"We feel that we got a group that fills our needs as we look two or three years into the future," said Erickson. "I evaluate a heck of a lot different than some other people and I feel very happy with this class. Every year some great players get away and you get some great players."
The Hurricanes have three scholarships remaining. Miami is saving one for Trent Hill, a preseason All-Texas defensive lineman who didn't play this past season due to off-the-field problems. Hill is expected to sign with the Hurricanes.
Defensive lineman Corries Hardy was Miami's only signee from the St. Petersburg Times' Blue-Chip list.
Throughout the 1980s the Hurricanes traditionally didn't get big names on signing day, but got big performances on the field. For example, Miami's 1981 class wasn't rated in the top 20 by most experts, but produced NFL standouts like Jerome Brown, Alonzo Highsmith, Vinny Testaverde, Bernie Kosar and Eddie Brown.
Miami's biggest disappointment Wednesday may have been linebacker Marvin Jones of Miami Northwestern, who opted for Florida State. Jones was rated the top linebacker in the nation by SuperPrep. Dallas defensive back Clifton Abraham, the No. 2 DB, also opted for Florida State and Houston's Aubrey Beavers, the top-rated defensive lineman, selected Oklahoma. The Hurricanes are still holding out hope for the No. 1 wide receiver, Andre Hastings, who is leaning toward Notre Dame and Florida State.
"I don't think it was the day they expected. They had a good group, but if you add a few of the players they lost today it would've been a great class," said Wallace. "I think you've got to look at the group and not the individuals and there they've got a strong class."
The strongest area for the Hurricanes was the defensive line, where Miami is graduating three starters. Tirrell Greene, Dwayne Johnson and Hardy should supply depth. Richardson, Adrian Ellis and Malcolm Pearson form a strong defensive backfield group.
Erickson is pleased with quarterback Frank Costa, who passed for 25 touchdowns this season. Offensive lineman Zev Lumelski "could be the best offensive line recruit in the nation," said Erickson. Lumelski, a Russian immigrant, has only played football for two years.
MIAMI SIGNEES Donnell Bennett RB 6-2215 Fort Lauderdale
Ricky Ceaser LB 6-2210 Houston
Dietrich Clausell WR 6-2205 Gulfport, Miss.
Frank Costa QB 6-4200 Philadelphia
Adrian Ellis DB5-10185 Miami
Corwin Francis LB 6-0195 LaPorte, Texas
Tirrell Greene DT 6-3290 Pittsburgh
Corries Hardy DL 6-3225 Melbourne
David Holliman DL 6-3280 Homestead
Dwayne Johnson DT 6-5255 Bethlehem
Anthony Lewis OT 6-5275 Brockton, Mass.
Zev Lumelski OL 6-6260 Miami Beach
Malcolm Pearson DB 6-1195 Fort Lauderdale
Carl Richardson DB 6-1200 Dallas
Baraka Short LB 6-2223 Miami
Paul Snyder P 6-0180 Laguna Nigel, CA