Mark Richt's No. 1 recruiting class planning to return Miami to national prominence

Photo: Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY Sports

Mark Richt's No. 1 recruiting class planning to return Miami to national prominence


Mark Richt's No. 1 recruiting class planning to return Miami to national prominence


BEAVERTON, Ore. — The verbal commitments in Miami’s recruiting class have three group texts. One is with their future coach, Mark Richt, so it’s not surprising to hear it stays clean — with “darn” and “shoot” replacing more colorful language, as one prospect joked.

There’s another of just the prospects themselves, which has its fair share of normal teenage hijinks to go with the recruiting talk: setting up the fall calendar for official visits, for example, or discussing which uncommitted prospects to contact via text or on social media. And the third brings together those committed recruits with the uncommitted; the former tries to sway the latter to join what is currently among the top-ranked classes in the country.

“Coach Richt’s first year, he leads them to a bowl win,” said Bishop Gorman (Nev.) tight end Brevin Jordan, who committed to the Hurricanes over UCLA. “Second year he recruits the unanimous No. 1 class. That’s my recruiting pitch. Plus it’s at Miami. What’s better than Miami?”

These recruits — nine of whom are in action at The Opening, the annual recruiting bonanza held on Nike’s campus — were infants the last time Miami won a national championship, way back in 2001. After successive top-five finishes during the following two years, highlighted by a controversial loss to Ohio State that prevented Miami from claiming back-to-back titles, the Hurricanes haven’t won more than nine games in a single season.

They’ve heard of the program’s former dominance — though none of the nine here were very familiar with that 2001 team, for example — even if they’ve never seen it. Yet the Hurricanes’ in-progress recruiting class shares a vision: that of a program renaissance.

“You can’t always repeat the past,” IMG Academy (Fla.) wide receiver Brian Hightower said. “But we can help bring it back or maybe make it even better, if possible.”

Cue the eye roll. Admittedly, two things are undeniably true. The first is that Miami’s trip through the wilderness has led the program to cede massive swaths of ground to several Atlantic Coast Conference competitors, most notably Florida State. Every rival knows the score: Miami hasn’t claimed even an ACC divisional title since joining the conference in 2004.

The second is that this class, even if praised by every major recruiting service, wouldn’t be the first ballyhooed group to arrive on campus with grand plans of remaking Miami into a national power.

Maybe this one will be different. Miami’s class is currently ranked second in the Football Bowl Subdivision by, just a sliver behind Ohio State, with seven prospects ranked by that service among the nation’s top 100 players. The quickest path to success in college football is paved with five-star recruits — each title winner since 2006 has signed at least one top-six class in the four seasons leading into its national championship.

To a man, the top-rated verbal commitments here at The Opening said they were drawn to Miami in large part due to Richt’s blueprint for the program; Richt, now entering his second season with the Hurricanes after a long run at Georgia, painted a picture of a program poised to recapture the past.

“The vision that they had was what drew a lot of interest from me,” said Providence (Fla.) tight end Will Mallory.

Every recruiting class across the FBS dreams big, if some bigger than others. But based on incoming talent alone, and based on recent and not-so-recent history, Miami’s current crop of commitments will immediately and dramatically boost the Hurricanes’ odds of reclaiming their place in the title conversation.

“The goal is to win a natty, win a national championship,” said Miami Southridge (Fla.) wide receiver Mark Pope.

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