Miami HC Mario Cristobal Using Lionel Messi As Recruiting Pitch For Hurricanes

Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Mario Cristobal has introduced a fresh recruiting approach, using the recent move of soccer sensation Lionel Messi to Inter Miami and the MLS as a pitch to entice prospective players to join the Canes.

During an appearance at the ACC Football Kickoff, Cristobal invoked Messi’s name, highlighting how the international superstar chose Miami to continue growing his brand.

“If Mr. Messi takes the chance to come to Miami to continue to grow his brand, why wouldn’t any player in the country not come to Miami,” Cristobal said.

Lionel Messi, widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, if not THE greatest, stunned the sports world when he announced his decision to join Inter Miami in June, turning down other lucrative offers, including one from the Saudi Arabia league.

Messi’s MLS career is off to a dominant start as he has more than lived up to the hype thus far. 

Cristobal’s recruiting tactics have been backed up by the success he has achieved on the trail. After a 5-7 finish in his first year as the head coach of the Hurricanes, Cristobal and his staff managed to secure the #7 ranked recruiting class in the 2023 cycle.

Currently, they hold the #15 spot for the 2024 cycle, with 18 commitments, including one five-star and five four-star prospects.

The Hurricanes are aiming to rebuild their program under Cristobal’s guidance, who himself is a former Miami standout.

Emphasizing the importance of building a balanced and disciplined roster, Cristobal said: “The blend is the right percentages of the different kinds of roster make-up components. By that I mean you have some seasoned veterans that have been here that have seen a lot of football, played a lot of football. You have an elite freshman class where some guys are going to be able to contribute and be impactful members on the field while others continue to develop.”

Cristobal has embraced the dynamic nature of the current college football world and has taken advantage of the transfer portal to strengthen the team with seasoned and experienced players.

Miami’s impressive 16-player haul from the transfer portal ranks #7 nationally and #2 in the ACC, including key additions like Javion Cohen from Alabama and Matt Lee from UCF, expected to bolster the offensive line, and linebacker Francisco Mauigoa, a standout from Washington State.

Despite leveraging the transfer portal effectively, Cristobal has not veered away from his recruiting roots. In the 2023 cycle, he secured an impressive 26-player class, ranked #7 nationally and #1 in the ACC, featuring two five-star and 14 four-star prospects, including the promising talents of offensive tackle Samson Okunlola.

To complement the roster changes, Cristobal made adjustments to his coaching staff, bringing in new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and defensive coordinator Lance Guidry to enhance the team’s vision and performance.

I’m not so sure how attractive Messi’s MLS status is to potential recruits – but clearly Cristobal is doing something right.

How do you think the outlook is for the Canes?

Can Cristobal eventually bring the program back up to “The U” standards?