football Edit

Rewind: Miami's top five classes in the era

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

While it’s still early in the cycle, the Miami Hurricanes have the No. 1 class in the 2018 Team Recruiting Rankings. This got us thinking – what are the best classes Miami has reeled in during the era? Here is the top five as it stands today.

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1. 2008 - Ranked No. 5 overall


Highest-ranked signee: Forston committed to the ‘Canes prior to his senior season, but still took official visits to Tennessee and North Carolina during the fall. However, the Canes were never seriously threatened, with Forston enrolling for the spring semester in 2008. At Miami, Forston showed flashes of brilliance, but injuries derailed his career. Despite a season-ending knee injury in 2011, he still decided to forego his final season of eligibility and declared for the NFL Draft, where he went undrafted. After playing parts of two seasons with New England, and then having a tryout with St. Louis, Forston ended his professional career.

Biggest success: Similar to Forston, who went to the same high school, Spence committed to the ‘Canes prior to his senior season but also took official visits to Tennessee and North Carolina in the fall. And as with his teammate, while he did take visits, he never wavered on his commitment and enrolled early. Spence had four productive seasons at Miami, totaling more than 105 tackles in both 2010 and 2011. Spence was a third-round draft pick in 2012 and spent four seasons with the Steelers, then one in Tennessee and recently signed with Indianapolis for the 2017 season.

Biggest disappointment: Brown had a chaotic recruitment that eventually saw him commit to Miami at the Kansas Hall of Fame over LSU, USC, North Carolina and Florida. In Coral Gables, Brown had two unspectacular seasons before he decided to transfer to Kansas State in early 2010. While he did enjoy success on the field for the Wildcats, and has bounced around the NFL over the last few years, his time at Miami was far from what fans envisioned when he signed in 2008.

Biggest surprise: Benjamin came close to committing to Miami a few times after receiving an offer from the 'Canes, but finally pulled the trigger in late December. At Miami, Benjamin became a reliable threat in the passing game, totaling 131 receptions for 2,146 yards and 13 touchdowns in four seasons. He was drafted by Cleveland in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft and spent four seasons with the Browns before signing a contract with San Diego prior to last season. He enjoyed his best two professional seasons in 2015 and 2016, when he totaled 115 receptions for 1,643 yards and nine touchdowns. He has also become one of the more feared return men in the league.

2. 2004 - Ranked No. 5 overall

Calais Campbell
Calais Campbell (AP Images)

Highest-ranked signee: Williams’ recruitment was one of the more hectic and tumultuous during the era. After taking official visits to Miami, Auburn, Florida and Florida State, Williams decided to stay local and committed to the ‘Canes. He eventually transferred to a junior college in California and then Louisville, Glenville State and finally Union College, an NAIA school in Kentucky. Things then went further downhill for Williams as he was convicted of second-degree burglary charges in 2010, which resulted in a 15-year prison sentence.

Biggest success: Despite an impressive high school career and his obvious size and athleticism, Campbell never truly saw his recruitment explode. At the end he committed to Miami over Colorado State, which is where his brother played, despite also having offers from Michigan, Nebraska and Oregon. Campbell showed great potential during his three seasons in Miami, which was highlighted in 2006 when he had 55 tackles, 20.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks. He was drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by Arizona and then spent nine very successful seasons with the Cardinals. He signed a four-year contract with Jacksonville in March.

Biggest disappointment: Leggett originally committed to Miami, then flipped to Florida and finally returned to the ‘Canes in January after taking official visits to Miami, Florida, Oklahoma, Purdue and Texas A&M. In four seasons in Coral Gables Leggett caught 85 passes and 11 touchdowns, which don’t meet five-star standards. He then had short stints with Cleveland and Baltimore in the NFL, but never registered a single reception.

Biggest surprise: Dixon committed to Miami during his senior season, but academic issues eventually led him to a prep season at Milford Academy. When he finally arrived at Miami, Dixon established himself as a reliable interior defensive lineman for the ‘Canes. He finished his time in Coral Gables with 71 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks while playing in 40 games. While he went undrafted in 2009, he found a home in Philadelphia where he played for four seasons, and then Indianapolis.

3. 2003 - Ranked No. 5 overall

Greg Olsen
Greg Olsen (AP Images)

Highest-ranked signee: Wright committed to Miami over USC and Tennessee in September, but then took an official visit during the fall before signing with the 'Canes and enrolling for the spring semester. Wright showed promise in 2005 and finally had the opportunity fully seize the job the following season. He struggled in 2006 and then, to make matters worse, a thumb injury ended his season prematurely. After failing to reclaim his starting spot again at Miami, Wright went undrafted in 2008 and never made an active NFL roster.

Biggest success: Olsen originally committed and signed with Notre Dame after choosing the Fighting Irish over Miami, but then quickly transferred to the Hurricanes before he ever played a down in South Bend. One of the main reasons for this was because his brother, Chris Olsen, who was a quarterback at Notre Dame, had decided to transfer out of South Bend. After three fairly productive seasons in Miami, Olsen was selected with the 31st overall pick in the first round of the 2007 Draft by Chicago. After four seasons with the Bears, Olsen is preparing to begin his seventh season with Carolina, where he has become the favorite target of quarterback Cam Newton.

Biggest disappointment: Cooper's recruitment was an in-state battle between Miami, Florida State and Florida, but it ultimately came down to the ‘Canes and Seminoles and he chose Miami on National Signing Day. Cooper’s most productive season came in 2007 when he finished with 57 tackles, however the lasting memory most Miami fans have of the former four-star is the fact that he sustained a gunshot injury before the 2006 season.

Biggest surprise: While Beason was a four-star prospect, his arrival on campus wasn’t as anticipated as many of his classmates that year. Beason took official visits to Georgia, Tennessee and Florida State before taking his final one to Miami a few days before National Signing Day. Despite growing up a fan of the Seminoles, he committed and signed with the ‘Canes when it came time to make a decision. His breakthrough season at Miami came in 2005, and he followed that up in 2006 with 76 tackles and eight tackles for a loss. Beason was drafted in the first round by Carolina in 2007 and had four highly productive seasons with the Panthers before injuries sidetracked his career.

4. 2005 - Ranked No. 7 overall

Kenny Phillips
Kenny Phillips (AP Images)

Highest-ranked signee: Youngblood took official visits to LSU and Miami before committing to the ‘Canes at the conclusion of his visit to Coral Gables. He also considered Texas and Oklahoma. Youngblood’s collegiate career never materialized in Miami, partially due to injuries, but also because of inconsistent and lackluster play. After four seasons in Miami, mainly as a back-up, Youngblood’s attempts in the NFL never made an impact.

Biggest success: Phillips’ recruitment came down to Miami and Tennessee and went down to the wire. He finally ended the drama on National Signing Day by committing to the 'Canes. Phillips had three highly productive seasons in Coral Gables, which led him to forego his senior season of eligibility. He was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by the New York Giants and had three productive seasons with the team before making his way to Philadelphia and then New Orleans. He retired in 2016

Biggest disappointment: Farr originally committed to LSU, but a December official visit to Miami eventually led to his flip to the ‘Canes. He was expected to be the next great Miami tight end, but that never materialized. After grabbing only 10 receptions in three seasons, he transferred to Memphis for his final season and eventually flamed out in the NFL after failed attempts with several teams.

Biggest surprise: In a class loaded with four-stars, it was Sharpton who became one of the more productive members of the class. Also considering Stanford and Boston College, Sharpton finally made his commitment public in December. After redshirting in 2005, Sharpton’s steady play at linebacker solidified the team's linebacker group over the next four seasons. He finished up his time at Miami with 106 tackles and nine tackles for a loss in 2009 before being drafted in the fourth round by Houston in 2010. He spent four seasons with the Texans, and then saw time with Washington and Chicago.

5. 2002 - Ranked No. 8 overall

Devin Hester
Devin Hester (AP Images)

Highest-ranked signee: Moore took official visits to Miami, South Carolina and Tennessee, and had one scheduled to Florida, but committed to the ‘Canes in January before he ever made it to Gainesville. He arrived at Coral Gables with fans comparing him to Randy Moss but Moore’s career never came close to reach that magnitude. He finished his collegiate career with 94 receptions for 1,466 yards and 11 touchdowns. He went undrafted by the NFL and spent a couple of seasons in the Arena Football League before seeing his professional career come to an end.

Biggest success: Hester took official visits to Miami, Florida State, Georgia, NC State and Purdue, but his recruitment always seemed destined to come down to the ‘Canes or Seminoles. He ultimately committed to Miami during his official visit. Hester saw time at wide receiver, cornerback, running back and on special teams with Miami. His success on special teams helped him quickly make a name for himself as he returned six kicks for touchdowns during his three seasons in Coral Gables. Hester was drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft by Chicago, and he he immediately became the Bears' top return man as well as a slot receiver. During his eight seasons in Chicago and final two in Atlanta, Hester had an NFL-record 20 special team’s return touchdowns, plus 3,311 receiving yards.

Biggest disappointment: Mounts arrived at Miami after not playing football for six years due to a failed attempt at a Major League Baseball career, so it probably shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise when he left the program after only four practices. He resurfaced at Florida A&M the following year but never made an impact at the collegiate or professional level.

Biggest surprise: Merriweather, who was always rather quiet about his recruitment, took official visits to Miami, South Carolina and Florida before committing to the ‘Canes in January. After receiving a medical redshirt and receiving minimal playing time during his second season, Merriweather began to show his true potential in 2004 with 62 tackles and two interceptions. He followed that up with two All-American caliber seasons in 2005 and 2006 and left Miami with the program record for most tackles by a defensive back with 293. He was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by New England and played nine productive seasons in the NFL.