Recruiting is the lifeblood of every college football program. Miami’s recruiting has been uneven in recent years, and that’s reflected in its season records of the last decade or so.
Year after year the Canes have failed to lock down the top players in their own backyard, the talent-rich, tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.
UM hopes that changes under second-year coach Manny Diaz.
In that spirit, here are six underclassmen prospects from South Florida, the nation’s most fertile recruiting ground, the Canes should make it a point to recruit heavily for the classes of 2022 and 2023.
We separated the recruits by offense and defense and then broke them down into three categories – blue chip, potential SI99 player (someone who could be named to our elite national list), and underrated prospect.
Miami certainly has an identity on defense. Aggressive, fast, and violent are just some of the words that come to mind and since Diaz returned to Miami and recruiting has been centered around players that have these attributes.
Defensive ends Gregory Rousseau out of Hialeah (Fl.) Champagnat Catholic and Joe Jackson from Miami Gulliver Prep are just a couple of examples of players that fit that mold.
The two elite 2021 commits – safety James Williams of Plantation (Fl.) American Heritage and defensive tackle Leonard Taylor of Miami Palmetto – are both members of the SI99 and both ranked among the nation’s top four at their positions by SI All-American.
The Obvious Blue-Chip
Shemar Stewart (6-5, 236), defensive end/edge rusher, Miami Monsignor Pace, 2022
Stewart shrugs off offensive lineman like rag dolls en route to terrorizing the quarterback. The junior has great inside and outside moves from the line of scrimmage and keeps contain on outside runs to close in on ball carriers with violent finishes. Stewart could make an impact on his first collegiate snap.
The Potential SI99 Player
Wesley Bissainthe (6-1, 195), outside linebacker, Miami Central, 2022
Bissainthe has great football instincts and is an above-average athlete. The junior can play the run and the pass at a very high level and knows what to do with the football once it’s in his hands. Miami seems to be the leader at this point but Florida State is making a hard push to land the talented defender.
Jaylin Marshall (6-3, 190), safety, Hallandale (Fl.), 2022
Marshall is a physical defensive back who does a good job separating the ball from the receiver. He has great closing speed once he commits to making the tackle but needs to make more plays on the ball to get more interceptions. The junior is an aggressive defensive back who could be used at Miami’s striker position.
Miami’s offense is getting a facelift.
In coach Diaz’s first year Miami experienced a lot of offensive ineptitude under ex-coordinator Dan Enos. The Canes ranked 90th in offense and struggled to score most of the season crawling to a 6-7 record that ended with a 14-0 Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech.
It was the first time a ‘Group of five’ team shut out a ‘Power Five’ team in a bowl game since 1998.
Insert new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
Lashlee will implement a high-tempo spread offense to inject life into a unit that’s had playmakers, but made too few plays through the years.
The Obvious Blue Chip
Brandon Inniss (5-11, 179), wide receiver, Davie (Fl.) University School, 2023
The incoming sophomore is already a cut above most of his high school peers and will only build on his natural talent in his remaining years in high school. Inniss can run every route on the tree and has the ability to catch in traffic. He’s not fast (4.7-second 40-yard dash) but has the potential to be a three-year starter on the next level.
The Potential SI99 Player
Anthony Hankerson (5-10, 170), running back, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, 2022
Hankerson is an explosive running back who started gaining attention toward the end of last season. In last year’s 7A championship game Hankerson rushed for 190 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, including a 63-yard touchdown to take control of the game in the second half. Hankerson can hit top speed like Ferrari and would work well in an up-tempo offense.
Zaylan Reese (6-1, 190), wide receiver, Miami Central, 2022
Reese, who recently transferred from Miami Northwestern, is a precision route runner with reliable hands. He has a gift for taking short quick passes and converting them into big gains. Reese seems to excel best on the inside slant route but he has the skills and toughness to fight for the football and win one-on-one battles.