FROM: JORDAN NELSON
If you haven’t read Connor’s article on the Miami Portal Madness from a UF perspective, then check it out here; it’s fantastic.
Connor’s piece made several solid points, and I’d be lying if I said that I had zero doubts about the portal as the main strategy of acquiring talent. However, I believe that looking at some context will help tell a more complete story.
It’s true that many of the guys lack a resume packed with on-field production, but that’s just the nature of getting underclassmen transfers in college football. It’s not like Kyler Murray or Cam Newton were Heisman candidates at Texas A&M and Florida, respectively.
Bubba Bolden and Tate Martell are in that same boat. They probably wouldn’t have transferred had they been producing at a high rate. Nonetheless, both young men are talented and will have every opportunity to live up to the hype at The U.
Martell has never given anybody reason to doubt his high-school ranking, and it’s not like he was riding pine behind some slouch. Dwayne Haskins was a Heisman finalist and is projected to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. Bolden won the starting strong safety job at USC as a true freshman before having some off-field issues that derailed him.
The rest of the group of grad transfers that Manny has coming in are elite from a talent perspective. Tommy Kennedy, coming from FCS program Butler, had offers from Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boston College amongst other Power-5 schools. He projects as the starting left tackle for the Canes in 2019.
Obviously, we can’t count our chickens before they hatch, but it’s hard to crap on Manny for bringing in a guy like Kennedy when many other top programs were showing the same interest. KJ Osborn has 1,500 career receiving yards and Trevon Hill was a monster at Virginia Tech before being dismissed from the team. Any Power-5 teams would be ecstatic to add those guys and fill the needs at their respective positions.
Defensive tackle Chigozie Nnoruka had 8.0 tackles for loss and 2 sacks as a sophomore, before being phased out of the rotation by a new coaching staff and defensive scheme. He has the talent to make his presence felt in the right situation.
I agree that the transfer portal is not the most ideal way to acquire talent if you want to be a mainstay among the country’s elite programs. But, Manny Diaz is making due with what he has. When he was hired, he inherited Miami’s worst recruiting class this century. There were only going to be seven seniors on the team before he hit the portal. SEVEN!
Chalk all this portal madness up to circumstance. Honestly, we should applaud the dude for turning an awful situation into something that everyone is talking about daily on social media.
Let’s not forget that UF and FSU fans can’t seem to keep Manny’s name out of their mouths in recent weeks. If Miami’s in-state rivals weren’t concerned about what he’s doing, they wouldn’t be so focused on every move he’s making.
Look at the status of both in-state rivals. There is a palpable sense of free fall around the FSU program right now, especially regarding Willie and his top-secret, tell-no-one plan of not having a QB on the roster. Things are not great in Tally.
UF, on the other hand, is looking good. Dan Mullen has the Gators at least two years ahead of the Canes, and he is on the path to building up an elite program. But make no mistake, they are looking over their shoulder at Manny Diaz and the Hurricanes.
The simple truth is that when the Miami Football program is handled properly, it is the most devastating force in college football, bar none. I am not one to obsess over whether Miami is or isn’t “back,” and honestly, that topic alone isn’t really worth too much discussion.
But the excitement around the program right now is giving both of our friends up north an uneasy feeling. All of Gainesville has August 31st circled on their calendars just like we do. The showdown in Orlando might give us a little preview of who will dominate the next 5-10 years of football in the state of Florida.
You can follow Jordan on Twitter @JRNelson17.
(Above Photo From: CanesFootball/Twitter)