RECRUITING - Printable Version

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- MsNole - 02-03-2005 03:43 PM

Quote:Hurricanes Land Some Key Targets, Miss On Top RB

Tampa Tribune correspondent
Published: Feb 3, 2005

CORAL GABLES - Miami's 2005 recruiting class is significantly smaller than usual, but as always, the talent level appears to be exceptionally high.

"We're very excited about this class,'' Coach Larry Coker said of a group that numbered 17 players as of Wednesday but could swell to as many as 20.  "It's a very talented class. It's a very academically sound class. A very athletic class. And a class with, I think, tremendous potential.''

Miami once again stayed true to its roots of drawing top- tier talent from the state, with 12 of the 17 players hailing from Florida, including eight from South Florida.

"I think that's what's made Miami great,'' Coker said.  "It's great football, it's great coaching and great talent [in South Florida]. We've got to do a good job in South Florida. We do that, and we'll have a chance to be very, very competitive every year.''

Miami's in-state haul is headlined by Carol City safety Kenny Phillips, a Parade All- American considered the top player in the nation at his position. Phillips, 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, chose Miami over Tennessee, and should compete immediately for playing time in the secondary.

"Not only is he the No. 1 recruit in Dade County, but he's an outstanding prospect,'' Coker said.  "You get these guys that are list guys, and they're nice on paper. This guy is nice on the field.''

But as nice as it was to land Phillips, the failure to secure the signature of the nation's top running back had to sting Coker. Antone Smith, an elusive runner from Pahokee, likely would have been considered the top player in Miami's class - as well as the player most likely to make an immediate impact.

During his news conference, Coker received word the state's Mr. Football had signed with rival Florida State.

"As far as I know, he's still a recruit, unless he got the papers in,'' Coker said.  "He's certainly a fine player.''

Despite the loss of Smith, Miami's class filled the most pressing needs at linebacker and offensive line, with four players at each position. That group is headlined by Houston native Reginald Youngblood, a 6-5, 280-pound Parade All- American considered the second-best offensive tackle prospect in the nation.

"Reggie is, we think, the best offensive line prospect in the country,'' Coker said.  "I don't care who you are. Offensive line and defensive line are very, very critical areas.''

Quarterback will be the most critical area next season. The Hurricanes thought they were getting a top-tier talent in San Diego Oceanside star Derek Shaw, but Shaw's change of heart in mid-January left a big hole in their class that they were unable to fill late.

"This was not a real strong year for quarterbacks around the country,'' said Coker, who has two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.  "We can't go through next year and not sign a quarterback. We need to sign a great, great young quarterback. We certainly expect to do that.''

Hurricanes came in #7 in Rivals.com team rankings.