Analyst expects Mario Cristobal recruiting threat to Nick Saban

Nov 7, 2020; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2020; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

John Garcia the Director of Football for Sports Illustrated All-American told the Bama Central website for Fan Nation that anyone who thinks that Miami head coach Mario Cristobal is not a recruiting threat to Nick Saban and Alabama in his words “quite ignorant.” Cristobal has already flipped a signee from Alabama.

Just over a week after being hired by Miami Mario Cristobal was able to convince four-star tight end, Jaleel Skinner, to flip his commitment from Alabama and sign with the Hurricanes. It will be more difficult for Saban, Kirby Smart of Georgia and Dabo Swinney of Clemson and other high-profile coaches to recruit in South Florida.

Garcia also discussed Florida coach Billy Napier but not Florida State head coach Mike Norvell. Cristobal and Napier improved the 2022 Miami and Florida signing classes from the 70s to 15th and 16th in the 247 Sports composite rankings. Miami has the ninth highest-ranked class in average rating per signee.

Mario Cristobal has been an elite recruiter since was on the Alabama staff under Saban from 2013 through 2016. After leaving Alabama, Cristobal spent one season as an assistant at Oregon before becoming the Ducks head coach from 2017 through 2021. Cristobal knows South Florida well and how to recruit there.

"“Cristobal has been there and done it before at many high levels…This is a homecoming for him. He recruited south Florida well for Alabama, as well as for Oregon and for others. To think that he wouldn’t be a threat to Alabama and others is quite ignorant. He is a Miami guy through and through.The different types of players he has recruited speak for itself.  Now, Alabama is still Alabama…It would also be just as foolish to think that all of the South Florida talent will stay down there. Competing for national championships and NFL development will still pull some kids away from there.But priority No. 1 for Cristobal is keeping South Floridians home, like all the great Miami coaches have done in the past. That road will be easy for the Hurricanes to do with Mario at the helm. Mario has the right mix of guys around him…Guys who know the area and guys who have an external perspective to balance it out.This Miami staff presents something that the Hurricanes haven’t had over the last decade or so…The pipeline to Alabama for Florida prospects is certainly going to be harder to achieve now with the new coaches in the state of Florida.But at the same time, the allure of the Crimson Tide will continue, unless the recruiting elsewhere combines with winning at a level that the current high school recruit has never seen in his lifetime. That is really what changes things long term.But it will be a new challenge moving forward trying to mine elite talent from the state of Florida.”"

Miami keeping the best players home is how Howard Schnellenberger set the foundation for the first National Championship in 1983. If Miami is going to return to becoming an elite program signing as many of the best local players will be critical. Miami signing four-star 2022 defensive end Nyjalik Kelly is a good start.

Kelly and Skinner were the second and third highest-rated players Miami signed in the Class of 2022. Four-star edge rusher Cyrus Moss from Las Vegas is the highest-rated player Miami signed in 2022. Kelly, Moss and Skinner would all have signed elsewhere without Miami hiring Cristobal as the head coach.

On National Signing Day earlier this month, Miami was able to sign four-star running back Trevonte’ Citizen. Citizen signed with Miami over projections he would sign with an SEC school. Florida and LSU were the favorites. In his first two months at Miami Cristobal signed player over Napier, Brian Kelly of LSU and Saban.

Miami is still in the running for five-star 2022 offensive tackle Josh Conerly. Michigan was at one time the leader to sign Conerly. The hiring of former Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis could help Miami to sign Conerly. New offensive line coach Alex Mirabal is listed as the primary recruiter for Conerly.

Cristobal has hired an elite staff that is expected to significantly improve Miami recruiting. The Hurricanes should become involved with players who would not have included Miami in their recruitment recently. Cristobal pushed Texas A&M for five-star DE Shermar Stewart before he signed with the Aggies.

Next. Mario Cristobal using Alabama blueprint for Miami football. dark

Several five-star players are considering Miami in the Class of 2023. That is a credit to Cristobal and his staff. With a year to recruit 2023 prospects, Miami should finish with a top 10 class led by the recruiting prowess of Cristobal. Cristobal has made a statement in 2.5 months as the Miami head coach.