If any of Miami’s 29-member 2019 football recruiting class knows the school’s alma mater and fight song, it’s Deland McCullough II.
After all, the Kansas defensive back’s father is Deland McCullough, who ranks second on the program’s career rushing list. His grandfather is Sherman Smith, a major contributor to Miami’s three consecutive Mid-American Conference and Tangerine Bowl championships from 1973 through 1975.
Lineage played no role in recruiting the younger McCullough, Miami coach Chuck Martin said.
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“We made certain that they knew that recruiting him had nothing to do with his dad or granddad,” Martin said on Wednesday, the first-day of the three-day period in which high school seniors can deliver national letters-of-intent to Football Bowl Subdivision colleges.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound McCullough, who missed most of his senior season with an injury, is part of the largest position group in the RedHawks’ largest recruiting class since at least 2002, according to 247sports.com, which ranked the class 75th in the country and second in the MAC behind No. 73 Western Michigan. The website ranked Cincinnati’s class 71st.
Miami’s class features seven defensive backs, followed by five defensive linemen, five offensive linemen, four linebackers, three wide receivers, two tight ends, a running back and a quarterback.
“We had 24 commits this summer, and we didn’t lose any of them, and we got some really talented kids late – guys who committed elsewhere and then changed their minds,” Martin said. “Our guys did a good job staying with those guys, saying, ‘You didn’t choose us, but we chose you.’ When you have 29, we had every position covered. I think 10-15 of these guys could travel with us and contribute in some way, either on the two-deeps or on special teams.
“This is a tough physical and tough mental class. We were able to be pretty picky. We kept saying, ‘You not only have to be talented, but you’d better be tough and physical.’”
Perhaps the most accomplished recruits are St. Louis, Mo., Christian Brothers College High School quarterback Brett Gabbert, Farrell, Pa., High School defensive lineman Kobe Hilton, Akron Archbishop Hoban defensive back Matthew Slopak and Clinton Township, Mich., Chippewa Valley defensive back Ja’Von Kimpson. All four were first-team all-state picks while leading their teams to state championships.
The 6-1, 200-pound Slopak ended his career ranked fifth in the state with 24 interceptions while Hoban was winning four state titles, two in Division III and two in Division II. The 6-foot, 200-pound Gabbert – whose brother, Blaine, plays for the National Football League Tennessee Titans – threw for a combined 78 touchdowns over his last two seasons and was named Missouri’s Class 6A Offensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Four of the recruits are products of Colerain High School, which went 14-1 and lost in the Ohio Division I state finals. They include linebacker Ivan Pace, the Division I state Defensive Player of the Year, and 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive lineman Rusty Feth, who is tied with Shelbyville, Ky., Martha Layne Collins High School offensive lineman Nathan Jacobs as this year’s largest RedHawk recruits.
Jacobs also was named first-team all-state while leading his team to a pair of state championships.
Six of the recruits are early enrollees – McCullough, Colerain linebacker Luke Bolden, Pittsburgh Gateway Senior defensive back Jeremiah Josephs, Charlotte, N.C., Rocky River wide receiver James Maye, Cornelius, N.C., William A. Hough wide receiver Austin Robinson and Carmel, Ind., High School tight end Rhett Williams.
The class also includes 6-2 300-pound defensive lineman Jahmal Wynter, a product of McDonough Ga., Henry County High School and transfer from Highland Community College.
This signing period lasts through Friday and another begins on Feb. 6. Martin still has two scholarships to award.
“It’s crazy to get 29 and still have two in my pocket,” he said, suggesting Miami might focus on bolstering the wide receiver corps