During the 2023 recruiting cycle, few programs across the country recruited IMG Academy as well as the Miami Hurricanes after landing 5-star offensive lineman Francis Mauigoa, 4-star defensive lineman Jayden Wayne, 4-star tight end Riley Williams, and 3-star offensive lineman Antonio Tripp. Now Miami hopes to continue that success with the 2024 class.
With IMG recently being sold for 1.25 billion dollars to the private equity group BPE EQT, some may question whether things may be changing at the Florida Powerhouse and how that might affect recruiting. However, head coach Billy Miller is confident that one aspect will not change, and that is the football operations, which recently began their spring football schedule.
“The football program is going to operate just how it has been,” Miller told CaneSport. “Everything is going good. We’re getting into day five of spring ball today, so kids are picking up the installs pretty well, understanding how we do things and are practicing with extreme detail.”
With spring ball underway, the next wave of Ascenders began preparations for their upcoming season as they hope to be the next IMG Academy athlete to shine in the collegiate ranks and then have their name called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Following the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft, IMG Academy experienced its fourth consecutive draft with a former athlete being selected in the first round and has had 18 players selected in the NFL Draft since 2019, the most for any high school in the country during that time period.
With so much success sending elite-level talent to the next level, you can see why the Hurricanes have made it a priority to recruit at a high level at IMG Academy.
“There’s not really a secret; what we do is what we do,” Miller said. “Everything we do is all college-based. Kids practice in the morning and go to class in the afternoon. They come here and get to learn how to deal with time management and begin to build that structure. When our kids leave here, they’re prepared to go compete in college. Our kids do a really good job of buying in.”
After only securing five commitments from the school between 2012 and 2022, Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal landed four IMG commits (Mauigoa, Williams, Wayne, Tripp) during his first year at Miami. Miller believes the head coach’s personality, charisma, and ability to connect with IMG’s prospects played a significant role in his success at the school.
Along with Cristobal, Miller believes the work of offensive line coach Alex Mirabal during the recruiting process is extremely beneficial for the Hurricanes as well.
“I think it’s his (Cristobal’s) background being an offensive line guy,” Miller said. “Getting Francis (Mauigoa) and Antonio (Tripp) down there speaks credit when you can go play a position the head coach is heavily involved in. Also, offensive line coach Alex Mirabal does a really great job. When he comes into the building, he always has great energy and a great personality about him. He loves the kids and does a great job as a recruiter.
“Obviously, with Jayden Wayne and Riley Williams going down there, we’ve had a strong pipeline to Miami for years. It’s a great university; the school is a beautiful place to live, and the staff does a great job of being around here and building relationships with the kids.”
With Miami in the mix for several IMG prospects in the 2024 class, including five-star prospects David Stone and Ellis Robinson and four-star prospects Jerrick Gibson, Jerrae Hawkins, and many more, Miller believes the Hurricanes’ continued effort to establish strong relationships with the players despite some coaching changes among the staff will be key.
“I think the biggest thing is the relationships,” Miller said. “It’s a relationship business, both in the coaching profession and as a player. There are some new staff members at the University of Miami, and I’m not up to date with who’s all there, but whoever is new just needs to keep creating those relationships with our kids, really invest in them, and show them why the University of Miami is for them.”
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