Defensive tackle Leonard Taylor and safety James Williams in 2021 were the first pair of five-star signees with the Miami Hurricanes since cornerback Tracy Howard and running back Duke Johnson in 2012. Taylor and Williams have the potential to be the best Miami five-star players in program history.
The 247 Sports database of composite recruiting rankings goes back to the 2000 class. Linebacker D.J. Williams who signed with Miami in 2000 is the highest-ranked signee in Hurricanes history. Williams played on the 2001 Miami Hurricanes National Championship team and had an 11-year NFL career.
Recruiting ratings matter. College football programs with a roster with over 50 percent of their players graded four or five stars are predominantly the ones who make the playoff. Taylor and Williams are the only two five-star players on the Miami roster. Miami had the 13th most talented college football roster in 2021.
Taylor had 21 tackles, was the Miami co-leader with 8.5 tackles for loss, had two sacks and a pass breakup in 2021. Williams had 31 tackles, 0.5 TFLs, two pass breakups and led Miami with two interceptions last season. Taylor and Williams rank as the 13th and 14th highest-rated signees in Miami history.
D.J. Williams is the clear top defensive five-star player in Miami history. Williams earn All-Big East in 2002 and 2003 and Butkus Award semifinalist in 2002 honoring the best LB in college football. Taylor and James Williams both have the potential to at least reach the accomplishments D.J. Williams did in his Miami career.
Athlon Sports named Taylor third-team preseason All-ACC defense and Williams to its fourth team. If Taylor and Williams play up to their potential both players should exceed those projections. Miami has fared better with five-star offensive players historically than those on defense.
Some of the five-star players for Miami on offense have included Hurricanes’ all-time leading rusher Duke Johnson and future NFL All-Pros, kick returner and wide receiver Devin Hester, running back Willis McGahee and tight end Greg Olsen. Taylor and Williams should anchor the Miami defense for the next two years.