Miami football coach Mario Cristobal has a new recruiting pitch for players looking to join his program, and it includes invoking the name of one of the biggest international superstars in sports history. During an appearance on set at the ACC Football Kickoff on Tuesday, Cristobal used soccer sensation Lionel Messi's move to Inter Miami and MLS to compare prospective recruits heading to South Beach to grow their brand by playing for the Hurricanes.

"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. 

Messi, considered among many to be the greatest soccer player of all time, announced his stunning decision to join Inter Miami in June, ending his time as one of the most coveted free agents of all time while shunning a lucrative offer to play for the Saudi Arabia league in the process. In Messi's first appearance with Inter Miami last week, he scored off a free kick at the death to give Miami a 2-1 win. 

Cristobal and the Hurricanes are looking to build off a season in which they finished 5-7 in the first year under the watch of the former Miami standout. While things didn't go particularly well on the field in his first season, Cristobal and his staff have been stellar on the recruiting trail as he aims to bring his alma mater back to prominence. Miami finished with the No. 7-ranked recruiting class in the 2023 cycle, and the 'Canes currently rank 15th for the 2024 cycle, according to 247Sports, with 18 commits including one five-star and five four-star prospects. 

Miami opens up the 2023 season against Miami (OH) on Sept. 1.