The first thing Mark Richt did with recruiting in December, the very first thing in his new job, was to watch video of quarterback Jack Allison. Richt is a quarterback coach, after all, and Allison had committed to Miami’s old staff.
“I liked what I saw,” Richt said.
His second task was to watch film of Oxbridge Academy running back Travis Homer, another player committed to the Hurricanes.
“I had a big grin when I watched the tape,” the new Miami coach said.
Down the list of recruits Richt went until, by Wednesday’s National Signing Day, he had assembled a recruiting class that was labeled solid, if not spectacular, by the folks who label such things. Fold it into Richt’s first 60 days as Miami’s coach and you start to see the vision he has for this program.
For instance, he took his time hiring a staff to get the best people he could, rather than the best people to reel in this recruiting class. Once assembled, he held staff meetings on different subjects starting daily at 8 a.m.
The first day’s subject was discipline. Players can’t be a minute late for class or they run at sunrise. Players must keep lockers clean or they run at sunrise. Players must wear the same clothes in the weight room or …
“Any stealing, you’re off the team,” said assistant Mike Rumph, the former American Heritage-Plantation coach.
The point is, this isn’t just about personal discipline. Miami was the most penalized team in college football last year. The Hurricanes averaged 9.8 penalties per game. The next worst team, Baylor, averaged 8.8.
“You don’t have personal discipline, you won’t have it in the fourth quarter of games,” said linebacker Shaq Quarterman, a recruit from Orange Park who enrolled at Miami in January.
Do you think Richt’s message is sinking in when a new recruit repeats it?
The second day’s subject was determining exactly what to look for in players at each position. Cornerback? Body length. Change-of-direction speed. Ball-hawk ability.
“That way, each assistant knows what to look for at every position — we’re all on the same page,” Rumph said.
The first 60 days won’t tell anyone if Richt succeeds. It says Miami got the guy they thought, though. A veteran coach. A proven personality. A guy who came in with a plan to follow for big-college success.
“When you start that train from ground zero with hiring people getting to know people — the staff, the administration, the president — there’s so many things to do in such a little time,” Richt said. “It’s a little overwhelming.
“This time as head coach, I was more excited about it. Last time [when named Georgia’s coach in 2001], I was more scared. I’d never been a head coach and was trying to fake it until I make it. This time I have a very clear vision of what I want to get done.”
So he stood there Wednesday and said he wants to welcome the alums to the program. That suggests a healthy shift. He also had all his assistants and the five early-enrolled recruits talk to the media. That, too, is a healthy change from the closed-door policy contaminating Miami for years.
What you primarily noticed on this day is a coach whose steady personality isn’t to over-sell himself as opposed to recent years on days like this. Al Golden was great on signing day. He quoted the scout in “Moneyball.” (“You think you know, but you don’t know.”) He said, “We’re not running from the legacy of this school.”
Give Golden credit for some of Miami’s recruits. Richt did several times Wednesday. But the other half of recruiting is developing, and that’s where the former staff had a problem.
Miami was desperate for receivers, and it got two highly rated ones in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Sam Bruce Wellington’s Ahmmon Richards. That helped Miami’s class to rank 21st nationally, according to Rivals.
In Richt’s 15 years at Georgia, his recruiting classes weren’t ranked lower by Rivals than his 15th rated class in 2010. Three were Top 5 classes. So he knows what a good recruiting class looks like.
More than that, he knows what a good program looks like.
“You have to have a starting point,” he said.
He’s started. After 60 days, he has a staff and a solid recruiting class. More than that, he has a vision to win that includes running at sunrise. Only a few players have had to do so. If that helps translate into winning, he’s onto something.
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