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Canes, Cristobal Sign Another Top-Five Class

Canes, Cristobal Sign Another Top-Five Class

by Christy Cabrera Chirinos

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Last December, when the Hurricanes signed one of the nation’s top recruiting classes during head coach Mario Cristobal first full recruiting cycle at his alma mater, the former two-time national champion offensive lineman made a promise.

He and Miami would remain relentless in their efforts to bring top-notch talent to Coral Gables.

On Wednesday, the coach held firm to his word with the Hurricanes again landing a second consecutive top-five recruiting class during the first day of the early signing period.

It’s a class filled with playmakers – more than a few of whom Cristobal said had the potential to make an immediate impact at Miami.

“The best part about it [is] they were all here to watch us practice at some point in time. They understand our culture, they understand and get our DNA. They were recruited heavily by our own players. That means our players have connected with them already,” Cristobal said of the newest Hurricanes. “They know the expectations. They know they’re here to work and they know that we’re working this into reality. The message has been consistent from the beginning, and they’ve been attracted to that. So have their families and it feels like they’re already very, very well connected with our program.”

And, Cristobal cautioned, the Hurricanes aren’t finished with their work on the recruiting trail just yet. The early signing period runs through Friday, meaning Miami has the potential to continue adding talent before the Hurricanes head to New York City to face Rutgers in the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl next week.

As of Wednesday evening, the Hurricanes had received signed letters-of-intent from 26 prospects including five-star defensive lineman Justin Scott, four-star defensive lineman Armondo Blount, four-star safety Zaquan Patterson, four-star defensive lineman Marquise Lightfoot, four-star receiver Ny Carr and four-star receiver Joshisa Trader, all of whom are rated among the top 100 prospects nationally at their respective positions by 247Sports.

The site ranked Miami’s class third in the nation in its composite rankings and tops in the ACC.

Miami’s class features 10 offensive players, including three offensive linemen, three wide receivers, a pair of running backs, a tight end, and a quarterback. Defensively, the Hurricanes added 15 players, including eight defensive linemen, five defensive backs, and a pair of linebackers. Miami also signed a specialist, three-star kicker Abram Murray, who caught the eye of Hurricanes’ coaches when he boomed 62-yard kicks during an on-campus recruiting event.

The newest Hurricanes hail from all across the country – tight end Elija Lofton hails from Las Vegas and played at the same high school as former Hurricanes tight end and current Houston Texans tight end Brevin Jordan. Scott and Lightfoot are both from Chicago, while fellow defensive lineman Elias Rudolph hails from Ohio and offensive linemen Nino Francavilla and Juan Minaya are from Connecticut and New Jersey, respectively.

To no surprise, though, the bulk of Miami’s recruiting class is from Florida with a combined nine players hailing from either Miami-Dade or Broward County.

Four of those Broward County prospects – receiver Chance Robinson, running back Jordan Lyle, safety Ryan Mack and cornerback Romanas Frederique, Jr. – were high school teammates at Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas, which recently won its fifth consecutive state championship. Two – Patterson and Trader – were teammates at Chaminade-Madonna in Hollywood, which recently won its third straight state title.

Keeping those kinds of championship-caliber players home, Cristobal said, will always be a priority for the Hurricanes. He noted one of the things that makes that easier is the success previous South Florida standouts have had at Miami.

“I remember being across the country going, ‘Man, all those players right there.’ But it’s still about selecting the right ones and Miami, in their best years, really did an unbelievable job of identifying the right ones and then getting them over here,” Cristobal said. “What’s happening is … you saw these guys play last year and there’s a lot of examples, right? From Wesley [Bissainthe] to Rueben Bain, Jr., Kam Kinchens, I could go on and on, Damari BrownMark Fletcher, Jr. They’ve had so much success so early that they’re your best recruiters, not because they played, but because when they go back to their respective [high] schools and talk about … ‘Man, from an education standpoint, our academic services do [this]. And from a nutritional aspect, this is what we do to get our bodies right. And then from a preparation standpoint, this is how we work, this is how we practice, this is how we train.’ That right there is the best form of advertisement …

“Our guys are doing great in school. They’re doing great in their community and their families are able to see them and take part in this journey. You can’t beat that combination. You can’t. And now, as we continue to move forward and progress, that becomes more and more powerful and hopefully, it’ll keep snowballing and bring even more.”

As successful as the day was for Miami and as highly regarded as the Hurricanes’ class is, though, Cristobal cautioned – again – that there will always be a need for the Hurricanes to continue adding talent to the program.

That work will always continue.

And when those talented players officially make their way on campus, the next step will be competing and doing the work necessary – on and off the field – to help Miami compete for championships.

“These guys, they’ve been told when they come in … they’ve got to be ready. They’ve got to be ready to compete. They’ve got to be ready to fit in and adapt to a culture that’s going to demand the most of them and in turn, make them the best that they can possibly be,” Cristobal said. “All in all, there’s a lot of work that goes into identifying these guys and it’s not just the film. Yes, of course, film has to have a certain level of ability, right? A certain caliber player that can help us achieve championship status. But with that, he’s got to be a championship person, as well. He’s got to understand the value of a University of Miami education. He’s got to understand how important it is for us to have a positive image all the time in the community, and the impact, in turn, they can have on our community. These guys really, really fit that mold and again, we look forward to adding some more names here in the near future.”