Cristobal, analyst assess UM’s highly-coveted summer arrivals in defensive front-seven

The Hurricanes were given a glimpse into the intoxicating skills of their 2024 recruiting class during spring practice.

Tight end/Swiss Army knife Elija Lofton; edge players Marquise Lightfoot and Cole McConathy; and receivers Jojo Trader and Ny Carr all displayed skills that portend well for the future. Same with safety Zaquan Patterson.

And as the figure of speech goes, you have only seen the half of it.

Ten more members of the 2024 class arrive in mid-to-late May, including the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle prospect, Justin Scott.

Here’s a look at the five front-seven newcomers:

Scott: The Chicago St. Ignatius College Prep five-star prospect flipped from Ohio State to Miami on Nov. 29, and he’s as talented as any player in this UM class (and ranked 15th nationally in the 2024 class by

He’s 6-5 and 310 pounds but has nimbleness when chasing quarterbacks and tailbacks and an ability to change directions quickly.

A football and basketball player in high school, Scott was the 10th ESPN 300 defensive lineman to sign with Miami since Mario Cristobal was hired as coach in December 2021.

He “has really active hands and feet, sheds double-teams easily and then can use power and speed to get in the backfield to be really disruptive,” Rivals recruiting analyst Adam Gorney said.

South Florida-based recruiting analyst Larry Blustein, in a phone conversation, said of Scott: “I’ve watched him, and he is one of the best in the country. Quick and very athletic.”’s scouting report says, among other things, that “Justin Scott’s combination of size, coordinated movements, and light-footed quickness in pursuit reminds us of Christian Wilkins at the same stage. Naturally gifted defensive tackle with rare movement skills. Lines up both on the interior and the edge for his high school. Chases down plays from the back side and runs sideline-to-sideline with ease.”

Cristobal said “Justin is a massive, massive man. If you want to get an idea for his athletic ability, turn on his film and watch him run the football. There are no plans for him here to run the football, but in high school, watch him run the ball at 330 pounds. That’s a pretty good indication of the type of athlete that he is.”

Defensive lineman Artavius Jones: The four-star Blountstown, Florida-based tackle considered FSU but stuck with UM.

“Artavius is a freak of nature as it relates to strength and power,” Cristobal said. “Here’s a guy that at that age [17], is already benching in the neighborhood of 425-450 pounds and can squat 600-plus. He plays with that strength, too. Sometimes it doesn’t transfer over. It does for him.”

Blustein has watched Blount “since eighth grade. When Blountstown went to the state [finals], they played Madison County, and the head coach at the time, Bo Johnson, said to me, ‘There are some good kids on this team but we have this ninth-grader and he’s as good as you are ever going to get.’

“When he committed to Miami, I called the coach and I said, ‘You called it.’ He said, ‘I don’t want the credit.’ The coach said he’s a [monster] on the field.”

Cristobal added: “Justin and Artavius are about as explosive as you could be for a big man. [Jones] is a state weightlifting champ.”

Defensive end Booker Pickett: He was’s No. 24 edge player and No. 234 overall prospect and picked UM over UCF (which got a late visit from him), Georgia, FSU and Ohio State.

As a senior at Tampa Wharton High School, Pickett produced 66 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, and 16 sacks. He had 76 sacks over four high school seasons.

“He’s going to be a Will linebacker for us, but also has third-down snap value at the defensive end or the edge position. He’s just a natural pass rusher,” Cristobal said. “One of the premier guys in the country.”

His father played for UM from 1994 to 1996.

“I always tell the guys that I was recruited as a brother of somebody, and I was like, ‘Hey, man, am I being recruited because you like me or because I’m going to help sell more tickets to Latin population in town?’” Cristobal said. “I want to be recruited because I want to be a player here. He was recruited independently of his ties to his father. A great football player.”

Being coached by UM co-defensive line coach Jason Taylor appealed to him.

“Well, I know that in college, he was my size,” Pickett told Canesport. “So he knows what it takes for me to be able to go get developed and go to the league.”

Blustein said Pickett is “strong, athletic, gets off the edge real quickly.”

Defensive end/linebacker Elias Rudolph: The Cincinnati-based edge rusher flipped from Michigan to UM last August and also had offers from FSU, Georgia and Ohio State.

“He’s 6-foot-4 1/2, probably on his way to 6-foot-5.,” Cristobal said in December. “A little bit thin at 215, 220, but as talented as it gets and another guy that plays with an unbelievable motor. This guy is what you want coming off the edge. He was a little bit injured this past year, so we didn’t get the amount of reps and the statistical data that you usually get with a guy that plays his position, but certainly he’s a guy we’re super excited about.”

He had monster numbers in 2022: 92 tackles and 19 sacks, plus four touchdowns as a tight end on offense.

“Elias Rudolph came down from Ohio in the spring for a jamboree in Palm Beach and 40 colleges were there and all offered him,” Blustein said. “He’s an impact player but skinny. You put 40 pounds on him, and he’s going to be another NFL guy. He’s very athletic, the No. 3 player in Ohio” at one point.

Defensive lineman Daylen Russell: Three-star Miami Columbus prospect can play end or tackle. He’s listed at 6-3, 255 pounds, but his coach told that he’s bigger than that.

“Daylen Russell, right down the street from Columbus, one of the best players in Dade County, one of the best defensive players in the state of Florida, that led that team to a state title,” Cristobal said.

“He’s an instinctive guy,” Blustein said. “Against Western, he was [around the ball] almost every play. Very good player. Will probably play tackle eventually. He plays inside more now anyway.”

Coming Wednesday: A look at UM’s freshman summer arrivals on offense and at cornerback.