For months, it seemed as though Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas 4-star DT Braylen Ingraham was a lock to commit to Miami. But, recruiting is a weird world and things change, and such a thing happened on Tuesday night when Ingraham announced his commitment to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Ingraham had been on the board for Miami as a premium recruit for nearly 2 years. Starting in his time at Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Dillard HS, Miami was the first major program to target the 6’4’ 270lb Ingraham as a premium player. Having played with current Miami DT Jon Ford at Dillard, the evaluation was simple: Miami only had to look at the player playing next to Ford to see Ingraham and judge his prodigious talents.
For the past 2 seasons, Miami had worked to build a relationship with Ingraham, who is a Ft. Lauderdale native and whose mothers is an admitted Miami fan. But, on his Mother’s birthday, Ingraham announced his intentions to go to Alabama college instead.
The connection between Ingraham and Alabama is clear: Crimson Tide DL Coach Craig Kuligowski worked at Miami for 2 years, and in that time he was the one who first identified and offered a scholarship to Ingraham. When Kuligowski left Coral Gables to work for Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa, he obviously remembered about Ingraham, and worked to get him to look at Alabama as a college option. Alabama is the pre-eminent team in college football, so that wasn’t a hard sell.
As I said up top, Ingraham was viewed as a lock to commit to Miami for many months. He’d visited Miami more than any other school, his Mom is a Canes fan, and there’s a need for DTs in this class. But then the talented defender took an official visit to Tuscaloosa on September 28th, and that visit turned the tide of Ingraham’s recruitment in Alabama’s favor. Ingraham reportedly received his mother’s blessing to go to school in Tuscaloosa, and that sealed the deal and led to today’s commitment.
This is hardly the first time Miami has lost out on a local recruit to the recruiting and performing machine Nick Saban runs at Alabama. We only have to look back to the class of 2018 to see several other high profile local players who chose Alabama over Miami: CB Patrick Surtain II, WR Jerry Jeudy. WR Xavier Williams, and DB Josh Jobe (though he played his final year of HSFB at a prep school in Connecticut). I wrote this piece 2 years ago detailing the recruiting battles that Miami and Alabama have waged previously, and the numbers continue to be in the Crimson Tide’s favor.
With Ingraham off the board, the focus will turn elsewhere. Players like 4-star Tyler Davis (widely thought to be a heavy Clemson-lean, if not imminent commitment), 4-star Quayshon Fuller (committed to Florida State though he was rumored to be wavering earlier in the fall), and 4-star Derrick Hunter (a talented player whose flighty nature on social media has not ingratiated him to fans). But, as you can see from the parentheticals for each player, none are likely to commit to Miami at this point.
Sure, other players could pop up on the radar, but it’s October and early signing day is 2 months away. So, if moves with other players are going to be made, now is the time to make them.
Recruiting never stops and losing Ingraham to Alabama isn’t the end of the road. There are still moves to be made, and hopefully, Miami will find a way to make them.
More on Miami recruiting in the coming days.