Miami Beat: When 4-Stars and 5-Stars Don’t Pan Out

For two weeks, I’ve preached about the excitement and optimism that encompasses ‘Cane fans nationally. The weather is changing, football is around the corner, and Miami is a young, young team that figures to be considerably better in November than they are now. Congrats — now it’s time to push the Pause button.

Why? Because I woke up this morning and had strange feeling of déjà vu. Maybe it’s because for the same two weeks, I’ve awoken to headlines regarding former top recruit Seantrel Henderson’s curious August (which includes two funerals in Minnesota, a car accident and subsequent concussion, and just one practice, that being today, August 22nd.) Or maybe it’s because former safety Ray Ray Armstrong is now playing at the NAIA level. But is just seems as though Miami has struck out at an alarming rate at developing its highest rated recruits.

I went through Rivals.com’s recruiting rankings dating back to 2002, and below you’ll find a list of every Miami five-star and high ranked four-star recruit (based on their rating scale as 6.0 or higher.) Bear in mind that Rivals defines a five-star recruit as a “Franchise player; considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation’s top 25 players overall, deemed to have excellent pro potential; high-major prospect,” while a top-notch four-star as an “All-American Candidate; high-major prospect; considered one of the nation’s top 300 prospects, deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team.”

Five-Stars: Tracy Howard (2012),  Randy Johnson (2012), Ray Ray Armstrong (2009), Arthur Brown (2008), Marcus Forston (2008), Seantrel Henderson (2008), Graig Cooper (2007), Kenny Phillips (2005), Reggie Youngblood (2005), Lance Leggett (2004), Tyler McMeans (2004), Willie Williams (2004), Devin Hester (2003), Greg Olsen (2003), Kyle Wright (2003), Ryan Moore (2002)

High Four-Stars: Lamar Miller (2009), Brandon Washington (2009), Ramon Buchanan (2008), Jordan Futch (2008), Brandon Harris (2008), Aldarius Johnson (2008), Ryan Hill (2006), Tervaris Johnson (2006), Dajleon Farr (2005), Ryan Anderson (2004), James Bryant (2004)

Just give that a quick skim, and I’m sure you’ll see what I see. For every Devin Hester, there’s a Ryan Anderson. For Every Lamar Miller, a Willie Williams. The unfortunate truth is we fans of the U have been down this road too often over the last decade, so why believe this year is any different?

There’s no possible way I can understand why so many have come and gone, leaving nothing but unfulfilled potential behind. I’m an overweight, early 30s wannabe journalist who hasn’t strapped on the pads. And the truth remains that this is an individual problem, not a mass conspiracy to overpromise and under deliver. As a fan, I’ve read complaints about staff turnover, or simply having the wrong coaches. We’ve complained about a lack of commitment in the weight room and offseason conditioning.

The logical culprit here is a combination of all of the above, and then some. The boom in recruiting services and high school coverage has likely led to some inflated self opinions of top recruits. As a result, it’s fair to assume they’ve never been challenged; on the field or off. They’ve simply been the best, and allowed to coast. And honestly, it’s tough to blame an 18 year old kid for believing his press clippings. I can recall times in high school where my picture may have appeared in the paper, and thinking how awesome and invincible I was as a result. And that wasn’t from any athletic or academic achievement — it was simply because I had a cool job!

For me, I grew up being reasonably smart. I coasted in school, all the way through college, making fine marks without much care. I landed my dream job (an internship with the Atlanta Braves,) after graduation, and figured life was really just this easy. But each step along the way, you encounter more people. More brains, more ideas, and more competition. Everyone’s bubble bursts at some point, and the sooner you realize that as an individual, the sooner you can embark on a path to greatness. I’d love to tell you that light bulb went off for me when I was 25, or even 30. But heck, I’ve brainstormed and written parts of this piece from work! But I can also say I don’t like failure, and still want to do my best each and every time.

Al Golden is the latest to attempt to change the culture at Miami, and get this proud program back to glory. This freshman crop is his signature class, and while everything Golden says, I believe; early returns are mixed. Just this week, cornerback Vernon Davis requested his release from his scholarship, simply because he wasn’t higher on the depth chart. The kid had been on campus some two months, and is leaving already? For now, let’s hope this is a small blip on the radar, and that the remaining guys on this roster are busting it as hard as I claim I would, if given a chance to wear the U helmet. Not many days go by where I don’t think about what I could have done differently while in Atlanta that would have allowed me to still be there.  In four years, hopefully Duke Johnson, Tracy Howard and 30 some other newcomers don’t harbor similar thoughts.

 

Chris Bennett currently covers the ACC for Rotowire, and previously for College Fantasy Football Insider. Though a graduate of South Carolina, he had his allegiances well formed, and didn’t deviate despite spending four years in Columbia. Though completely against social media, he has signed up for Twitter, where you can find him at @ChrisBennettACC

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