Breakdown Of The 2019 Hurricanes Offensive Line

By David Udel

Last years offensive line was easily the worst performing unit on the field last year. The main reasons for that was the failure of coach’s Mark Richt  and Stacy Searels to recruit a quality Tackle, and just plain out bad coaching.

But don’t take my word, take three time National Champion and NFL eleven year veteran, Leon Searcy’s word.  In a interview I did with Searcy last week, Leon said ” we have studs on our O-Line. But they showed no aggression and didn’t  even play with proper thechnic. I blame this solely on bad coaching”.

(You can find this interview in our Blog)

It’s our hope that new O-Line coach Butch Barry does a much better job than Coach Searels, both on the field and with recruiting.

Coach Barry spent the last four years as the assistant O-Oline coach for Tampa Bay. We should note that the Bucks O-Line showed steady improvement during Barry’s tenure with the Bucks. Hopefully his NFL experience will help coach up our O-Line to out produce last year’s unit.

Let me give you an example of what I consider the ineptitude of last years staff by starting this breakdown with Zachary Lerman, the former IMG academy 2nd team All-Conference OG.

ZACHARY LERMAN

OG. 6-2 296 RS.Sophomore.

Lerman has not seen any game action during the regular season since joining the Canes two years ago. You would think a second team all-conference player from IMG would be able to get past the practice squad. But after watching his film, I see why he hasn’t. Very slow hands, which would explain why the switch from DT to OG at IMG. He also has slow feet and just looks slow overall. But with that said, he is strong and if he can get ahold of you, he will pancake your ass.

But once again, I don’t see him getting past the practice team.

Not to sound like a hater, but Lerman is just a good example of the terrible job done by the previous offensive staff.

But with all that said, I like the kid and wish him well. Hopefully, I’m wrong and coach Barry can coach him up and he sees a little playing time. It should also be noted Lerman is one of two walk-ons on our O-Line.

GEORGE BROWN, JR.

OT.  6’7″ 310  RS SENIOR.

If there is a kid on this team I’m pulling for, its George Brown. Brown has seen very little playing time since transferring to Miami in 2015. Brown had to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. Brown has done a good job on the practice squad and saw action in three games in 2017. Everyone could see the former 4* high school recruit was ready to make that next step to being a starter at Left Tackle, or at least make the rotation when he suffered a devastating knee injury. Brown sat out all of last year to recover from his injury. 

Honestly, If fully healed, I believe Brown can make the rotation behind probable starter Tommy Kennedy and battle with redshirt sophomore Kai-Leon Herbert for some decent playing time.

DJ SCAIFE, JR.

OG. 6’3″ 300 Sophomore.

The former Miami Southridge star delivered a very impressive freshman season on the offensive line. Sciafe saw action in all 13 games and making seven starts as a Freshman.

I was impressed with the job he did consider he was forced to play tackle for most of the season.  But this year I hope he gets to play his natural position at left guard.

I see Sciafe as our starting left guard this season and hopefully he gets to stay there. Scaife and Donaldson at right guard will build the foundation for what should be a great running game for Miami this year. One thing for sure, if they can stay healthy, the guard position for Miami might be the best in the ACC.

CLEVELAND REED, JR.

OG.  6’3″ 325. RS Freshman.

The former 4* lineman out of Fort Mead only played in two games in his first season. But you could see he was going to be a beast for Miami with the proper coaching. We see Reed making the rotation behind Scaife at left guard and Donaldson at right guard.

NAVAUGHN DONALDSON

OG. 6’7′ 340 JUNIOR.

2017 FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICA (ESPN, FWAA)

2017 ALL-ACC, HONORABLE MENTION.

Well if Donaldson was not an example of just how inept coach Richt and coach Searels were, I don’t know what else is.

The decision to switch Donaldson from right guard to right tackle was terrible. You could see in spring ball Donaldson was not a Tackle. But CMR just kept saying he looks good there. Failure to recruit a decent right tackle was not Donaldson’s fought, and to move him from guard to tackle was not fair to Donaldson. But as a team player, he did what was asked of him.

Donaldson is a true Guard and a BEAST at that position. So, of course, we see him as our starting right guard this season where we expect to see him make 1rst Team All ACC.

KAI-LEON HERBERT

OT. 6’5″ 302 RS Sophomore

The former 4* tackle from American Heritage needs to step up this year and battle for the back up left tackle position along with George Brown and make the rotation at left tackle.  I also see him playing right tackle if needed.

Herbert only saw action in the regular season finale vs. Pittsburgh, but I believe he will make the rotation.

ZION NELSON

OT. 6’5″ 240 Freshman

This 3* recruit from Sumpter SC, is thaught by 247 sports to be in the rotation for spring ball.

All I can say if that’s true they know something I don’t.  I hear the kid has a big heart and a big motor, and sometimes that’s all you need. But at 240 pounds he looks more like a tight end than a right tackle.  I really questioned Miami taking him, but then again, there may be something special about this kid that I don’t know. I don’t see him making the field this year at right tackle.

COREY GAYNOR

C. 6’4″ 305 RS Sophomore.

Gaynor saw action in four games last year after seeing action in 10 games as a true freshman. I see Gaynor from my hometown of Pompano Beach becoming our starting Center this season allowing other linemen to return to their natural positions. I also see Gaynor having a breakout year for the Hurricanes.

ZACH DYKSTRA

C. 6’6″ 305 RS Sophomore.

Well, we Miami fans keep saying we need to recruit some of those corn-fed kids from Iowa for our O-Line. Well, that’s exactly what Dykstra is. Dykstra saw action in one game last year and served as a member of the practice squad.

He will be our number two center going into spring ball, but I have no idea where he will land come August. Hopefully, he steps up and makes the playing rotation.

JARED (MOOSE) GRIFFITH

C. 6’3″ 305 RS Freshman.

The Walk-on did not see any game action, he served as a member of the practice squad.

Griffith may be one of the strongest Hurricanes constantly out lifting people in the weight room. A fan favorite to work his way off of the practice squad this season seems doubtful.

TOMMY KENNEDY

LT. 6’4″  285 RS Senior.

There has been a lot made of Manny Diaz’s use of the transfer portal, but Kennedy may be the most important one. Because if Kennedy can’t come in and hold down the left tackle position, who will? George Brown or

Kai-Leon Herbert would have to step up or we would have to start moving guys around again like last year. We all saw how that worked out.

Kennedy spent four seasons at Butler University, earning second-team All-Pioneer Football League honors in a final season. Kennedy started 22 games at left tackle for Bulldogs. The graduate transfer chose Miami over offers from Oklahoma, Texas, Boston College, Arizona State, and Arizona, among others.

So if you’re a religious person, you just might want to send a little prayer for Tommy Kennedy to hold down our Left Tackle position in 2019.

JOHN CAMPBELL, JR.

OT. 6’5″ 310 RS Freshman.

Campbell from Dr.Phillips high school in Orlando saw action in four games in his first season. Campbell held his own and played quite well. We see him taking that next step and making the rotation at right tackle behind

Zalon’Tae Hillery. He will battle Zion Nelson the 240-pound right tackle for the backup position. My first thought is, if he can’t beat out Nelson who only weighs 240 pounds, we’re in trouble at the Right Tackle position. Unless like I said, Nelson has something that 247 sports and our staff see that I don’t.

ZALON’TAE HILLERY

OT.  6’6″ 304 RS Sophomore

Hillery saw action in seven games in the 2018 season. He had two very nice games to end the regular season and we see him as our starting right tackle. But don’t count out Campbell or even Herbert for the position.

So to conclude, right tackle once again looks to be our biggest issue. Plus how well will Corey Gaynor do at center? And don’t forget to pray for Tommy Kennedy.

Bottom line, we have a lot of young talent on our team, it will be up to coach Barry to develop it.

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