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2017 MAC Football National Signing Day Recap: Miami RedHawks

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Chuck Martin brings another strong class to Oxford.

NCAA Football: St. Petersburg Bowl-Miami (Ohio) at Mississippi State Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Chuck Martin and his staff for the Miami RedHawks got the job done on the recruiting trail yet again in 2017 as their recruiting class this year has some real assets for all three phases of the game, including 10 three-star prospects and a couple of transfers. Let’s get this show on the road and go through each recruit one-by-one to get more familiar with the new ‘Hawks. (All rankings are according to 247Sports.com)

Josh Maize (three star DE, 6’5”, 230 lbs, Deerfield HS (IL))

A long, athletic kid, Maize shows a lot of burst and was very disruptive at the high school level. He’s a likely redshirt for 2017 with his weight and upper body strength being a concern right out of the gate. Was offered by UConn, Indiana, and NDSU as well as Ball State, UB, CMU, EMU, NIU, and Toledo.

Mitch Lewis (three star TE, 6’6”, 220 lbs, Naperville North HS (IL))

Lewis provides a big frame to throw to and shows a lot of skill as a receiver despite not having tremendous speed. It’ll be interesting to see how he’ll be used in the offense down the road and whether he’ll be asked to block more as a true TE or if he’ll be split out more to take advantage of the size mismatch. Lewis held offers from Ball State, Hawaii, Western Kentucky, and Wyoming before committing to the RedHawks.

Jackson Williamson (three star QB, 6’3”, 200 lbs, Westside HS (SC))

The QB room is starting to get crowded with Gus Ragland, Billy Bahl, Noah Wezensky, Justin Martin, and now Williamson. JW can make some serious strikes and is good enough of an athlete to hurt defenses with his legs. The wind-up on his release is a tad long and we’ll have to wait and see if he can make plays in a muddy pocket. Had offers from Georgia State, Troy, and Western Carolina.

Davion Johnson (three star RB, 5’10.5”, 198 lbs, West Bloomfield HS (MI))

Johnson is a guy that can do a little bit of everything: runs downhill, a good outside runner, can catch the ball out of the backfield as well as a flexed out WR, and does a good job of finishing through contact. He’ll have to put on weight for the pounding he’ll take at the next level and he’ll be asked to pass protect more. Received offers from Iowa, Iowa State, and Syracuse as well as Ball State, CMU, Ohio, Toledo, and WMU.

Peter Nank (three star OT, 6’6”, 270 lbs, Dowling Catholic HS (IA))

Nank has all the tools to be a good OT at the college level as he has quick feet, finishes blocks with some nastiness, and stays active in pass protection. He has a tendency to play with a high pad level and has some weight to put on, so he’ll be a guy to watch later down the line. Bowling Green was Nank’s other FBS offer.

Mitchell Burton (three star ATH, 6’2”, 185 lbs, Columbus North HS (IN))

A dynamite athlete, Burton combines 4.4 speed with a strong lower body to make plays as a returner, a running back, and as a receiver. His weight’s an issue, as is his high pad level and his ability to finish through contact. Miami was Burton’s lone offer.

David Redding (three star OT, 6’5”, 280 lbs, Columbus North (HS))

Burton’s teammate at Columbus North is a powerful finisher at LT as Redding can either control most high school linemen or can work his way up to polish off a linebacker. He looks heavy footed on film, so a redshirt year would do him some good before finally seeing a college football field. Buffalo, Syracuse, and WMU were his other offers.

Jalen Walker (three star WR, 5’7.5”, 158 lbs, Carmel HS (IN))

A sensational player with the ball in his hands, Walker chose Miami over offers from Ball State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, and Ohio. He’ll be a tremendous asset as a returner in Oxford and he can be that kind of player on offense if he can learn to play without the ball (i.e. blocking, route running).

Dominique Robinson (three star ATH, 6’4”, 210 lbs, McKinley HS (OH))

Robinson is an intriguing prospect, with great size and athleticism but some awkward throwing mechanics as well. It’s hard to see Miami adding two quarterbacks in one recruiting class, so expect a move to WR or DB where his length and burst can be a tremendous asset. The RedHawks were Robinson’s lone offer.

Adam Mehelic (three star TE, 6’4”, 230 lbs, Hudson HS (OH))

He’s big and fast, and Mehelic could be a game-changer for the Red and White down the road as he’s shown he’s a big play threat as a receiver and is not afraid to chip on defensive ends. He’s a bit raw as a receiver and he’ll be asked to run block more, so putting on muscle will be big for him in his likely redshirt year of 2017. Mehelic turned down Cincinnati as well as Ball State, Bowling Green, and Kent State to play for Miami.

Elijah Watson (two star DT, 6’3”, 270 lbs, IMG Academy (FL))

Watson has a lot of potential as a defensive tackle as he can create separation from blockers and can burst to the football. He’ll be asked to take on more double teams in Oxford, so upper body strength will be key for him over the next five years. He eschewed Arizona as well as Ball State in favor of the ‘Hawks.

Donte Taylor (two star S, 6’1”, 203 lbs, St. Vincent-St.Mary HS (OH))

A good run-stopping safety, Taylor is also a good enough athlete contest catches in the passing game and is very disciplined on the back end. His speed is a concern, so he may become really valuable as a nickel or even an OLB if he’s able to put on weight. Akron was Taylor’s other offer.

Sterling Weatherford (two star ATH, 6’5”, 205 lbs, Hamilton Heights HS (IN))

A two-sport star as well as a two-way player at Hamilton Heights, Weatherford is a violent hitter with some good ball skills at the safety spot, but his length makes his change of direction a concern as well as his long speed. Could be like Donte Taylor where an increase in muscle mass could move him to the second level of the defense. Ball State was the other FBS offer for him.

Andrew Sharp (two star OLB, 6’3”, 225 lbs, Grosse Pointe South HS (MI))

Sharp has a high motor and shows some burst on defense, while he was able to make some play as an offensive play as well. He played a lot of DE in high school, so he’ll have to adjust to being off the ball and playing coverage or put on some serious weight to stay on the line. His other offers were Ball State, CMU, and WMU.

Logan Speyer (two star DE, 6’4”, 240 lbs, Arlington Local HS (OH))

Speyer had 13 sacks in his senior season, and it’s easy to see why as he’s explosive off the ball and a very violent finisher. Upper body strength will be vital for him at the next level as he has to find a way to use his hands to create separation from tight ends and tackles. Miami was Speyer’s lone offer.

David Marsh (two star DE, 6’4”, 240 lbs, Bishop Chatard HS (IN))

Judging from his Hudl film, Marsh is a player that is as fundamentally sound as it gets at the high school level. He doesn’t have the explosiveness or the athleticism that Speyer has, but he can make some hay in college as a gap-controlling DL. Ball State was Marsh’s other offer.

Jaylon Bester (two star RB, 5’8”, 160 lbs, Althoff Catholic HS (IL))

Bester’s not the biggest of guys, but he’s a fast and powerful runner for his size and he give the offense another weapon in the vein of Kenny Young. He’ll have to put on weight obviously, and it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll be used as a do-everything player or if Martin will have him commit to being either a RB or a WR. Florida A&M, Jackson State, and Southeast Missouri State were Bester’s other offers.

Ryan Newton (two star ILB, 6’3”, 220 lbs, Parkway South HS (MO))

Returning to the defensive side of the ball, Newton is a tremendous ILB with his ability to play downhill as well as cover, and he plays the game with great physicality. If he manages to put on weight during his redshirt year, he could end up being the gem of this year’s class. The RedHawks were Newton’s lone offer.

Isaac Hampton (two star DL, 6’2”, 270 lbs, Mallard Creek HS (NC))

Hampton has a quick first step and has really good burst for his size, while his hands aren’t the most violent you’ll ever see and he’ll have to transition to taking on bigger, more physical offensive linemen. Miami was his lone offer.

Mike Brown (DB, 6’1”, 200 lbs, Grand Rapids Central Catholic (MI))

Brown is an under the radar prospect that could be a legit player for the RedHawks down the road. Has great speed and athleticism to go with his length, and his ball skills are a sight to behold. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to the physicality of the college game.

Paul Young IV (K, 6’2”, 180 lbs, LaSalle HS (OH))

It looks like Young is a preferred walk-on, but either way he is signed on the dotted line and will be in Oxford this Fall. The big-legged Lancer booted LaSalle to a state championship in 2016 and is staying in the 513 to kick for the RedHawks. Young has a huge leg, as indicated by his touchbacks on kickoff and his career-long 49-yard field goal. He’s not the flashiest of commits, but he’s one that can be a difference maker in games.

Jacob Swartz (K/P, 6’0”, 180 lbs, Highland Park HS (IL))

Swartz is technically a preferred walk on, but he has shown the ability to flip field position on both the kickoff and punt teams. He demonstrated a big leg on field goals as well, so there could be a kicker battle coming down the line in Oxford. Miami was Swartz’s lone offer.

Transfers (that we know of)

Johnny Noyen (DB, 6’2”, 184 lbs, Dayton Flyers, Christian Hills Academy (OH))

Bart Baratti (S, 5’11”, 195 lbs, Kilgore College (TX), Klein Oak HS (TX))

Miami picked a pair of defensive backs via transfer this offseason to bolster a position that was in need of depth. Noyen didn’t play last season after being a QB at Christian Hills while Baratti showed some athleticism and tackled well in space as a freshman at Kilgore. Both of these players are likely redshirts, but these are still huge additions to the class.

Analysis

This is a very good offensive class as eight of the ten three-star recruits are on that side of the ball, despite not getting many commits that are true wide receivers. Defensively, Miami has some potential playmakers in Maize and Speyer on the edges while the linebacking corps was taken care of as well. It may not have the star power of the past few years, but this is still a very strong class that could help push Miami over the top in the coming years.