Barry Jackson: NFL studies that shed light on Miami’s 15-year decline And what needs to change. | University

MIAMI — The Miami Hurricanes have nothing to lose against teams with no players they even recruited, and they’ve now done it three times in four years with FIU, Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee.

But here’s the most monumental challenge awaiting UM coach Mario Cristobal: Attract more elite NFL-quality players, the ones who can help UM become a top-20 program again.

The NFL released two studies this season, and both reflect UM’s talent acquisition shortcomings in the 15 years before Cristobal:

— For a long time, the Canes were among the leading active players in the NFL. No longer.

In Week 1 of the season, UM had 11 players in the NFL who tied for 21st with Mississippi, Virginia Tech and Tennessee.

Not all schools with the most active NFL players win big. But the top ones are.

Here are the top 7 most active NFL players at the start of the season: Alabama at 65; LSU at 57; State of Ohio at 56; Georgia at 48; Oklahoma at 40; Notre Dame with 39; and Michigan at 38.

All these teams have won a lot in the last ten years. So there’s a correlation between winning and producing NFL players, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Scouts have left UM practices in recent years shaking their heads at the talent drop. One told me he was amazed how the Canes’ talent could have fallen so far from their glory days.

It’s Cristóbal’s job to fix it. If he does, the wins are likely to come.

– Here was the other published study: The number of NFL players on Miami-Dade teams (earlier this season) has dropped from 36 last season to 23 this season. And that is significant: Only six of these 23 attended the UM.

Meanwhile, the number of NFL players in Broward’s 53-man roster fell from 62 last season to 55 this season. But only five of those players attended UM.

So that’s 78 players from Miami-Dade and Broward in the NFL starting this season, and only 11 (mostly NFL backups) played for UM.

Let’s look at the Dade players first. Of the 23 participants were Artie Burns, Deon Bush, Duke Johnson, Jaquan Johnson, Denzel Perryman and Greg Rousseau.

Here were those who didn’t attend UM: Dalvin Cook, Teddy Bridgewater, Amari Cooper, Lavonte David, Josh Uche, Anthony Walker Jr., CJ Henderson, James Cook, Tutu Atwell, Carlton Davis, Rashad Fenton, Justin McCray, Eddie Pineiro, Demetrius Taylor, Keir Thomas, Tyquan Thornton and Richard Wildgoose.

Six out of 23 isn’t a terrible percentage, but it does need context. Of the six Miami-Dade Canes in the NFL, Rousseau and Perryman are the only starters. Duke Johnson, a former starter, is now on the Bills’ practice team.

Top players on this Miami-Dade list to bypass UM: Cook (attended FSU), Bridgewater (Louisville) and Cooper (Alabama). David (a two-time second-team All-Pro) was a two-star candidate who had no offer from UM, went to community college, and then transferred to Nebraska.

Of the 55 Broward players in the NFL who started the season, only five went to UM: Phillip Dorsett, Jon Feliciano, Jonathan Ford, Mike Harley Jr. (on the Cleveland practice team) and Danny Isidora (on the Arizona practice team) .

Out of that group, Dorsett (now a Texan backup) was a good NFL starter, Feliciano is a current NFL starter (Giants), and Ford has yet to play an NFL snap. Isidora was released earlier this month and Harley hasn’t played a game yet.

Among the influential (or formerly influential) NFL players who bypassed UM: Devin Bush (Michigan), Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), Joey Bosa and Nick Bosa (Ohio State), Brian Burns (FSU), Patrick Peterson (LSU) , Marquise Brown (Oklahoma) and Calvin Ridley (Alabama). Then there are several other former high draft picks looking to make their mark, including Patrick Surtain Jr. (Alabama).

Losing several high-end prospects from Plantation American Heritage (Burns, Surtain, Tyson Campbell, Sony Michel, Marvin Jones Jr., Earl Little Jr.), UM is refocusing its efforts there.

And here’s an important point: UM has a number of South Florida players. But many didn’t live up to expectations or became NFL-caliber players, suggesting some were overrated by recruiting services. Some of the best local players go elsewhere and then become standouts in the NFL; this has to stop for UM to win big.

As UM defensive back coach Jahmile Addae, who coached at Georgia last year, put it in August, American Heritage “is a school that you have to win and you have to dominate.”

Beyond American heritage, the Canes also had mixed success at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, where they lured Harley (among others) but lost to both Bosa brothers (it was an insurmountable task to win over one of the Ohio State two get, because of family inheritance). there and the strength of their program), Lamarcus Joyner, Asante Samuel Jr. and others.

“You don’t have a South Florida base at the University of Miami, you have borrowed time,” Addae said.

UM’s 2023 class is strong overall but offers poor local prospects. only five of UM’s 19 non-binding commitments in its top 10 class are players who attend high school in South Florida. But I don’t see that as a negative.

UM needs some of the region’s best untied 2023 players, with Miami Central four-star defensive end Rueben Bain and American Heritage four-star cornerback Damari Brown among the remaining available targets.

The Canes’ recruitment will almost certainly improve under Cristobal; it already has. But the real indication of how much the talent is improving — beyond winning — will be how many NFL starters emerge from the program over the length of his 10-year contract.

And it’s just as important that these Canes people develop those perspectives that have sometimes been lacking over the past 15 years.

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