Miami football: RedHawks lead MAC recruiting rankings amid pandemic

After a couple of weeks of staying home with his family due to the Covid-19 virus, Miami football coach Chuck Martin let his wife, Dulcie, and daughter, Emma, get close to him with sharp instruments earlier this month.

“Exactly,” Martin said with a chuckle Tuesday in a phone interview.

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Dulcie and Emma helped Martin cut his hair, part of a pay-it-forward effort encouraging folks to cut their own hair and send money to their now-unemployed barber or hair stylist. The project was one of many Martin, his coaches and players and other members of Miami’s athletics department were working on to help out during the current pandemic.

“A lot of us are doing what we can do,” said Martin, who read “The Rainbow Zebra” for local elementary school students and recorded the Pledge of Allegiance for another school district. “As much as we can’t do our normal stuff, we want to help out as much as we can. You’re not allowed to leave your house, so it’s hard to help out, but it was like I gave them a million dollars when I read the book and taped the Pledge of Allegiance.

“The readings were so well-received by the schools that I was talking to a recruit in Nebraska and his mom, who’s a principal, saw that and was trying to figure out a way to implement that.”

Among the other projects Martin and his staff were trying to put together was having players call residents who can’t have visitors at The Knolls of Oxford retirement community.

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The coronavirus isn’t the only novel aspect of this pandemic. Social media also is full of athletes displaying their attempts to stay in shape with creative at-home workouts, some of which resemble ideas that might’ve been inspired by the MacGyver television series.

“They’re looking for different ways to work out,” Martin said. “They look around the house or garage, and they’re lifting paint cans and tree branches or pushing cars. It’s not just our school. It’s other kids all across the country. Some of the things are a little scary. I tell them it reminds me of being back in the days when I was growing up and we were doing pushups.”

While spring practice fell victim to Ohio’s Covid-19 restrictions – the annual Spring Showcase scheduled for Saturday is cancelled – being quarantined hasn’t kept Martin and his staff from working. Miami had landed 15 verbal commitments for the 2021 football recruiting class through Tuesday, and ranked the class No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference and 50th in the nation.

Among the recruits were three ranked by the website as three-star prospects out of a possible five stars: 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive lineman Kyle Fugedl from Livonia, Mich., Franklin High School, 6-1, 180-pound cornerback Caleb Tubbs from Winton Woods, and 6-1, 225-pound inside linebacker Corban Hondru from Canonsburg, Pa., Peters Township High School.

“The biggest thing for our sport compared to others is our recruiting cycle is in a good place,” said Martin, who is prohibited like other coaches from commenting on specific recruits until they’ve signed a letter of intent. “We just finished our last class, and we’re going hot and heavy on our next bunch of juniors. We’re only offering 90 instead of 300. We only had four when this all started, and now we have 15. We’re ready for the next step in the process.

“Since they can’t come to Miami, we’re trying to do a good job of bringing Miami to their living rooms. Mom can’t be on campus, so we try to bring the campus to Mom. We show them videos. We get them on the phone with academic advisors. Normally, on their second or third visit, I sit down with them in my office. Instead, now, I’m sitting down with them in their living rooms or kitchens. We continue to try to give them information so they can make an informed decision.

“We don’t pressure them. We just want to make sure they have all the information so they can check all the boxes. Our staff is doing an incredible job of filling in the cracks. At the same time, we try to not be intrusive. We don’t know what these families are going through. Some of them haven’t been as impacted as others. Others might have parents who are out of jobs, or they might be on the firing lines in health care or food service. We try to do a good job of being patient.”

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