As the University of Miami football team prepares to enter spring practice in about a week, I decided to take a look at the roster, and try an deduce how I’d like to see the roster eventually take shape heading into the fall. Keep in my mind these are only my opinions, and I really hope it sparks a discussion with the Legion about how each of you feels about my thoughts, as the Canes head into the 2010 season.
This will be a three part series with features on offense, defense and special teams. Today let's take a look at the 2010 UM Offense.
1. Jacory Harris
2. Stephen Morris
3. AJ Highsmith
4. Spencer Whipple
QB Thoughts: Jacory Harris is unquestionably the guy here. The interesting battle will be for the backup QB position. I selected Stephen Morris as the guy I’d like to see take hold of the backup job. This is because Morris has good size (6-3, 190) and a big arm. Highsmith is small by pro-set standards (6-0, 195) and actually looks smaller than his listed measurables. Highsmith does however have the edge in experience, so it will essentially come down to if Morris can pick up the scheme and is mentally prepared to be the #2 guy. Whipple I think will have to settle in at being the fourth team QB. He’s a non-scholarship player, so you’d have to think the other scholarship guys would rank ahead of him, unless it became apparent that Morris was not ready and needed to be redshirted.
1. Patrick Hill
2. John Calhoun
3. Maurice Hagens
FB Thoughts: After going down with an injury, Pat Hill has received a medical redshirt and will be back for his final season as a Hurricane. Before his injury, it was readily apparent that Hill was a big time contributor on the offense, with his blocking and occasionally even catching the ball (I know he’s only caught maybe 3 passes here but he’s done well when he’s had opportunities). His backup will be John Calhoun. We haven’t see much of Calhoun other than on special teams, but he did play some last season at FB and because of his experience alone, you’d have to think he’s the guy behind Hill now that Mike James has went back to playing his true position at running back. Lastly here is fall enrollee Maurice Hagens. Hagens has good size and runs very hard. As a FB, he’ll have to prove to be a good blocker, and I think he can. He is the future at this position and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take over second team duties by mid-season.
1. Damien Berry
2. Mike James
3. Lamar Miller
4. Lee Chambers
Redshirts: Storm Johnson, Darion Hall, Eduardo Clements
RB Thoughts: In an interview with Jorge Sedano on 790 the Ticket, Coach Shannon said that Damien Berry will enter the spring as the starter of the group. However, the group is extremely deep and talented, and will probably provide some of the most heated competition of the spring. Mike James because of his “real” game experience is my choice as the second team RB, with Lamar Miller and Lee Chambers nipping at both Berry’s and James’ heels while filing out the Top 4.
We all know that we played 3-4 RBs last season, and I’d expect that trend to continue with all 4 RBs seeing playing time, as each brings something 100% totally different to the table. I listed the new recruits as all redshirt candidates, but Storm Johnson, an early enrollee, could surprise and jump into that top 4, potentially leaving Lee Chambers, who has been injury prone over his career, as the odd man out. We’ll have to see how it all shakes out.
1. Leonard Hankerson
2. Laron Byrd
3. Travis Benjamin
4. Aldarius Johnson
5. Thearon Collier
6. Tommy Streeter
Redshirt: Allen Hurns
WR Thoughts: Leonard Hankerson proved to be the go to guy last season and had a break out year. He’s coming back for his senior season and will unquestionably be the leader of the group. Laron Byrd also had a very productive season, proving to be a solid contributor to the WR corps. He runs really good routes and has great hands. He and Hankerson form a nice starting group that not only pays dividends in the passing game, but also in the running game, where their blocking is an asset. The next group of guys would have to be Travis Benjamin and Aldarius Johnson. Benjamin is arguably the fastest of the group (Davon Johnson can scoot too) and has shown his big play ability time and time again. After a stellar freshman year, you’d forget that Aldarius Johnson was the Canes’ leading receiver during his freshman campaign. However, injuries and perhaps his lack of top end speed allowed Byrd and Hankerson to over take him as the top 2 options at WR. However, Johnson is immensely talented, is a good route runner, and has great hands. He will play and play a lot, and honestly in this group of receivers, it really doesn’t matter who starts, because that core 4-6 players are all going to play.
In the slot you have good ‘ol reliable in Thearon Collier. He will never WOW you with his speed but he has big heart, great hands, and is more quick than fast. Collier also has an innate ability to make people miss, which is desirable for a slot WR.
The next guy who I think we really get to know this season is Tommy Streeter. Streeter is too talented to not play this season. He is big (6-5, 209 lbs) and posses 4.4 speed. Stretch ‘em out, as his nickname implies, will have the opportunity to do just that this year, and I expect him to be a big play waiting to happen along with Benjamin.
Lastly you have Davon Johnson and Kendal Thompkins. While each is incredibly talented in their own right, both are just on a team with better options. Johnson is a speed guy and Thompkins is a shifty guy with some decent speed himself. Either could get into the rotation if injuries were to occur, but other than that, I see them as the odd guys out. I would not be surprised to hear of either or both of them transferring at some point, as it is just the nature of things when you had to bring in 7 WRs in one class. Allen Hurns, though an early enrollee, is coming off a knee injury and will redshirt.
1. Richard Gordon
2. Billy Sanders
3. Chase Ford
Redshirts: Asante Cleveland, Andrew Tallman, Clive Walford
TE Thoughts: The TE position has some question marks. Only Richard Gordon has any game experience at this level, and he is coming off of an injury that kept him out for all of last year. He’s always had the tools athletically but has never really put it all together. You’d have to hope that now in his final year, he can do that. RS-Frosh Billy Sanders is the only other listed TE on the roster that will participate in spring ball. He served on the scout team last season, and we’ll get to see what he can do this spring. Going into the fall, you’d have to believe that JuCo transfer Chase Ford will immediately get into the rotation as a pass catching TE. He is big (6-6, 245), fluid, and can catch the football. My thoughts are that he can come in and immediately fill the Jimmy Graham roll on the offense.
With the lack of depth in the spring, perhaps we also see the move hinted at by Truth and J last season with Dyron Dye possibly moving over to TE, but only time will tell if that happens. Of the incoming recruits, I’d expect for them all to redshirt initially, but I really like Asante Cleveland and feel that before his time here is done, he will prove to be a very good and productive TE for The U. He has all the tools, good size, excellent blocker, good hands, and he runs good routes. Obviously on this level he’ll need to get both faster and stronger, but he is a very good looking prospect. I honestly would not be surprised if Cleveland does not get redshirted and actually contributes this season.
1. Orlando Franklin (LT)
2. Brandon Washington (LG)
3. Tyler Horn (C)
4. Joel Figueroa (RG)
5. Ben Jones/Jermaine Johnson (RT)
OL Thoughts: Depth issues aside, there are some immediate needs on the offensive line. Having lost our starting LT, C, and RT from last year’s team, 3 positions will up for grabs and there should be some very intense competition to fill those 3 spots. Orlando Franklin is slated to move over from LG to LT and man the spot vacated by Jason Fox. At LG, Brandon Washington played well when given a chance, but because of his versatility, don’t be surprised if you see Washington play any 3 of the interior OL positions (LG, C, or RG).
A lot of what happens with Washington actually will depend on what happens at the Center position. The incumbent is Tyler Horn, who was the second team guy last season, but didn’t really get much playing time. That is a credit to just how solid a job AJ Trump did in his first full year at Center. Horn will be challenged by early enrollee Shane McDermott who is a little undersized at (275 lbs) but is a hard worker, and is already possess impressive strength numbers (370 lbs bench press and 495 pound squat). If neither is able to get the job done, don’t be surprised to see Washington slide over to center, or if Brandon Linder comes in and blows things up in the fall, he is a possibility at center as well.
Presuming he returns healthy, you’d have to think that Joel Figueroa will return as the RG. He is a very impressive run blocker, but needs to improve on his pass blocking and conditioning which will help him a great deal, as in Coach Whipple’s offense, the guards are asked to pull quite a bit. If he’s not healthy, then Harland Gunn would man the RG spot. I’d also expect to see Gunn leap frog between both guard spots, spelling both Washington and Figueroa.
Another critical battle will take place at RT. Both Ben Jones (who I believe will also serve as the reserve LT) and Jermaine Johnson have good size (6-5, 300 and 6-6, 310 respectively) to play the RT position. You’d have to think that with a year’s worth of practice and improvement, that either SHOULD be able to at MINIMUM, provide what was provided by Matt Pipho. Obviously however, you’d have to think that if neither can be at least that good, then we are in serious trouble at the RT position. Others that could potentially contribute and get into the OL rotation include: Malcome Bunche, Jared Wheeler, Cory White, Brandon Linder, Tavadis Glenn, and Jonathan Feliciano.
Well Legion, there you have it, my take on what to expect from the offense in the spring and beyond as we patiently wait for the 2010 season. Remember, these are just my personal thoughts, and I encourage you all to express your thoughts and feelings on what you’d like to see from the Canes as we embark upon the upcoming season.
Be on the lookout for Parts 2 and 3 as I tackle the Defense and also Special Teams. As always, It’s All About The U and Go Canes!