University Of Miami's Al Golden: Recruiting Savant
By Sam Super
Coach Al Golden recently pulled another rabbit out of his hat with the addition of the highly touted quarterback transfer Jake Heaps.
Heaps who recently graduated from Kansas, is eligible to compete at Miami right away. The Sammamish, Washington native, should provide a shot-in-the-arm to an otherwise tepid quarterback competition. Heaps will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience as he battles redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen for the starting gig.
Heaps, who was ranked as the number 1 pro-style quarterback coming out of high school, according to ESPN, threw for an impressive 2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns during his freshman season for BYU. Those numbers were the best for a Cougars quarterback since Ty Detmer. A sophomore slump led to Heaps only starting six games before transferring to the University of Kansas and sitting out the 2012 season.
Last season Heaps had a disappointing starting campaign for the Jayhawks. He threw for 1,414 yards and 8 touchdowns, completing 49 percent of his passes. Those numbers put Heaps near the bottom of the pack for FBS quarterbacks. There is no doubt Heaps is a talented quarterback, but currently he has a Jekyll and Hyde style of quarterbacking. Still, the talented quarterback will get one more year to lay on the line.
The addition of Heaps continues Golden's resume of stealing high quality talent away from other programs. When coach Golden arrived in Coral Gables four years ago, he inherited a program littered with talented but underachieving football players. Golden quickly pounded the pavement and has achieved some impressive recruiting victories in the last couple of years.
Homegrown Florida products such Anthony Chickillo, Tracy Howard, Deon Bush, and Duke Johnson may have never ended up in Miami if not for Golden. As a former intern in the athletic department, I often heard stories of recruiting coups pulled by Golden to land top-level talent.
The acquisition of former Miami Central cornerback Thomas Finnie was the stuff of legend. The Miami Herald's Manny Navarro wrote about how Finnie was a South Carolina commitment who had packed his car for a recruitment trip to visit Coach Spurrier. Before leaving for the trip, Golden convinced Finnie to meet him and go over the idea of Finnie becoming a Hurricane. Golden ended up getting Finnie’s commitment before the weekend was over.
Golden had built a reputation as a recruiting savant long before arriving in Miami. During his time at Temple, Golden resuscitated a program that some had called one of the worst in college football. By 2009, Golden had created such a buzz that CBS Sports analyst Tom Lemming named Golden the best recruiter in the country.
In an interview from 2013 with the Sun Sentinel, Lemming stated: “Miami will be back to being a powerhouse, I think. Golden is a younger version of Nick Saban and Urban Meyer and he’s recruited very, very well considering the circumstance swirling around.” (Lemming was referencing the NCAA recruitment sanctions levied on Miami at the time)
Golden has recruited at a high level even back in his assistant coaching days. Mike Farrell for Rivals.com wrote that Golden was so good at recruiting, that after stops at Boston College, Penn State and Virginia, Golden earned the nickname "Golden Al" because of his ability to recruit.
So with the ability for Miami to have a coach that brings in high quality talent at the drop of a dime, Hurricanes fans know there is always light at the end of the tunnel.