Miami football five alums 21st century best high school recruits

(Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
(Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images) /

The Miami football program landed five alums on the list of the Best high school football players this century, ranked” from 247 Sports. Three of the five players listed signed with Miami out of high school and two transferred to Miami. Linebacker Willie Williams who signed with Miami eventually transferred to Louisville.

Linebacker D.J. Williams and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson were the only two of the five Miami football alums listed to sign with the Hurricanes and complete their careers there. Quarterback Brock Berlin who originally signed with Florida and defensive end Jaelan Phillips with UCLA round out the list for Miami.

Willie Williams and Henderson fit just inside the top 50 in a four-way tie for the 46th best recruit coming out of high school since 2000. Phillips is 45th. It is surprising Phillips was not ranked higher as the consensus top recruit in the Class of 2017. D.J. Williams ranked ninth overall on the list tied with Berlin and two other players.

Willie Williams is one of the most polarizing players in the history of the Miami football program. Off the field problems eventually hindered Williams’ career, caused him to be dismissed from the team at Louisville and eventually serve prison time in Kentucky. Williams was summarized by 247 Sports.

"46 (TIE). WILLIE WILLIAMS247Sports Composite Rating:  0.9988This 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker from Miami Carol City Senior High School in Miami Gardens, Florida, drew comparisons to Lawrence Taylor. But “college football’s first celebrity recruit,” as Bleacher Report labeled this standout from the 2004 recruiting class, was not to be a gridiron legend for long.He bounced from Miami, to junior college, to Louisville (where he was dismissed from the team) to a prison stint in Kentucky.”"

Henderson was the consensus second-ranked player and top-ranked OT when he signed out of Cretin Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2010. Miami National Championship winning QB Steve Walsh is a CDH alum. Henderson received multiple accolades in high school.

Henderson was named USA Today high school All-USA First Team as a junior in 2008 and senior in 2009. Rivals named Henderson the  High School Junior of the Year in 2008. Henderson was the  USA high school Today Offensive Player of the Year in 2009. Henderson was a consensus Freshman All-American in 2010.

"46 (TIE). SEANTREL HENDERSON247Sports Composite Rating:  0.9988“Seantrel Henderson was an offensive tackle out of Cretin-Derham Hall in Minnesota. USA Today’s one-time high-school Offensive Player of the Year was the No. 2-rated talent of the 2010 recruiting class. He starred in college for Miami, and was a seventh-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.”"

Phillips had a breakout season during his one year on the field for the Miami football team

in 2020. In 10 games, Phillips had 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and three pass breakups. Phillips was named a second-team All-American in 2020. Overcoming injuries at UCLA, Phillips was dominant for Miami.

"45. JAELAN PHILLIPS247Sports Composite Rating:  0.9989The 2017 247Sports Composite National Player of the Year, Jaelen Phillips impressed at Redlands East Valley in Redlands, California. The defensive end set off for UCLA, but transferred to Miami after two seasons.  In the 2021 NFL Draft, Phillips was a first-round pick for the Miami Dolphins."

D.J. Williams played four years at Miami. Teaming with Jonathan Vilma, Miami had an elite pair of LBs during their run of finishing in the top two in the final polls from 2000-2002. That run culminated with a national championship in 2001. Williams was USA Today High School All-American in 1999.

With Miami, Williams was named first-team All-Big East in 2002 and 2003. Due to injuries, Williams played fullback for Miami as a freshman in 2000. During his collegiate career, Williams finished with 142 rushing yards and two TDs and added 12 receptions for 143 yards and another TD.

"9 (TIE). D.J. WILLIAMS247Sports Composite Rating: 0.9998“The top-rated talent of the 2000 recruiting class, tied with Brock Berlin, linebacker D.J. Williams went on to rack up honors at Miami, and carve out a long career in the NFL.”"

Berlin led one of the most iconic comebacks in Miami football history in 2003 after transferring from Florida. Trailing 33-13 in the third quarter, Berlin led the Hurricanes rally against the Gator for a 38-33 victory. In two seasons with Miami, Berlin completed 58 percent of his passes for 5,099 yards 34 TDs and 23 interceptions.

"9 (TIE). BROCK BERLIN247Sports Composite Rating: 0.9998“The other top-rated talent of the 2000 recruiting class, Brock Berlin was a pro-style quarterback out of Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana. In college, he played for Florida and Miami. After going undrafted, he struggled to catch on in the NFL, playing in just two games in two years."

Miami is trying to get back to the elite in college football. The Hurricanes signed a pair of five-star players in 2021. Defensive tackle Leonard Taylor was graded at .9940 and safety James Williams .9922. Neither Taylor nor Williams was near the five previously mentioned players graded at when they signed.

Next. Where would Miami fit in with a geographically aligned ACC?. dark

The players on the list proved that not everyone lives up to their potential for various reasons. Willie Williams off the field problems derailed his career. Health problems stalled Henderson’s NL career. Development will be important for Miami in the future to continue their return to an elite college football program.