Jalen Wydermyer’s official visit with the Miami Hurricanes was a weekend of firsts for the three-star tight end from Dickinson, Texas. It was Wydermyer’s first official visit and his first ever trip to South Florida. He ate gator and lobster for the first time. And, for the first time, Miami got to layout exactly the vision it has for the senior.
From afar — and with one trip to Texas — Todd Hartley has tried to illustrate what he envisions the 6-5, 240-pound receiver potentially doing at Miami.
“Probably the most impressive thing of the whole visit,” Wydermyer said earlier this week after returning home from his visit, “was he sat me down and showed me film. He didn’t tell me what he’d do with me. He showed me.”
Hartley has always alluded to Wydermyer potentially filling the void the Hurricanes have struggled to since tight end David Njoku left for the NFL following the 2016 season. This weekend, the tight ends coach showed Wydermyer exactly what he means.
Hartley began by showing Wydermyer film of when Njoku and fellow tight end Chris Herndon both played key roles in 2016. Herndon, a relatively undersized receiver, could play a variety of roles near the offensive line, which gave the Hurricanes the flexibility to use Njoku as either a traditional in-line tight end or as a super-sized wide receiver. Hartley then showed Wydermyer how he uses tight ends this year — Brevin Jordan plays the old Herndon role, but the Hurricanes still don’t have anyone they can use regularly in Njoku’s old role.
Miami already has one tight end committed in the Class of 2019 with Larry Hodges, a three-star prospect from Tampa Jesuit. Hodges comes in the Jordan or Herndon mold. Wydermyer would get a chance at becoming the next Njoku, which is meaningful to Wydermyer.
“I told Coach, ‘I want to do the exact same thing y’all did with David Njoku,’” Wydermyer said. “I looked up to David Njoku a lot, watching him at Miami. He was just an idol in college, so I keep up with him in the NFL and stuff like that. ‘I want y’all to do the exact same thing y’all did with him.’”
Wydermyer expected some pitch like this. He didn’t, however, expect the campus to be like it is.
Wydermyer has thought about the Hurricanes since he was young because his father grew up a Miami fan. Wydermyer even did a research paper about the university when he was young, but he still didn’t quite understand the distinction between Miami and Coral Gables until he spent the weekend in Florida. Appealingly, the school still feels like a traditional college.
“Me and my parents had a stereotype going into Miami. It’s a huge college, it’s right in the center of Miami, it’s a party city, blah, blah blah and when we got there, it wasn’t in Miami,” Wydermyer said. “It’s really a small community. It’s like a college town pretty much and then right next to Miami. It was awesome. It’s crazy how it’s so secluded from Miami.”
With his first official visit in the books, Wydermyer has a timeline in mind. His birthday is Dec. 20, which falls right in the middle of the early-signing period. He’d like to announce his commitment then, as long as he knocks out the rest of the official visits he wants to take.
Wydermyer, whom the 247Sports.com composite rankings peg as the No. 17 in his class, is now working on setting up officials with the Texas A&M Aggies and Alabama Crimson Tide. He’s also taken unofficial visits with the Mississippi Rebels and Georgia Bulldogs in the past, although he isn’t yet sure about official visits with those two.
“That would be awesome,” Wydermyer said of signing early, “but if I don’t get some officials down — the officials I want to get down — by then, I’ll just wait.”
▪ It was mostly a rough weekend for the Hurricanes on the recruiting front. On Sunday, three-star running back Marcus Crowley flipped his commitment from Miami to the Ohio State Buckeyes after spending the weekend in Columbus for an official visit. The Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy senior had been committed to the Hurricanes since 2017.
▪ Cornelius Nunn’s defection from Miami’s 2019 class a day later was a bit less crushing, but still disheartening given the Hurricanes’ on-field struggles. The three-star safety from Palmetto had been committed to Miami for less than three weeks before he announced his decommitment Monday.
▪ There was still at least one piece of good news for the Hurricanes this week. Louis Hedley, a two-star punter from City College of San Francisco, committed to Miami on Sunday shortly after receiving an offer. The junior college prospect will have three years of eligibility remaining when he joins the Hurricanes next year.
▪ Wydermyer wasn’t the only key visitor for Miami on Saturday. Lloyd Summerall also made his first trip to Hard Rock Stadium this season. The four-star defensive end from Lakeland has been high on the Hurricanes since visiting for the first time in the spring. He plans to return for an official visit later in the year.
▪ Some other major Miami targets have begun to take late-season official visits with some of the Hurricanes’ biggest challengers. Mark-Antony Richards, a four-star athlete from Wellington, took his official visit with the Auburn Tigers this past weekend and Khris Bogle, a four-star defensive end from Cardinal Gibbons, is set to officially visit the Alabama Crimson Tide this weekend. Both still plan to take official visits with Miami later in the year.
Auburn has long been the Hurricanes’ biggest challenger for Richards, who is the younger brother of former Miami wide receiver Ahmmon Richards. The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, is probably trying to make up ground on the Hurricanes and the Tennessee Volunteers in Bogle’s recruitment, although the senior does have a relationship with Alabama defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, who was previously in the same role at Miami.