By: Eric Moore
The Hurricanes entered there spring game looking to establish some consistency on offense and defense, but with a lot of star players out for the spring game. Coach Diaz and co were looking for some players to step up and prove they were ready to step up, so where could the coaching staff look on the roster and get some help? We won’t break down the positions that are already known as not a surprise this spring. Instead, we will give our opinion on who we think stepped up, and showed that they will earn some playing time this year.
On the offensive side, there is a lot of question marks that are out there and it isn’t surprising. Coach Enos hasn’t had the opportunity to work with his players long, but there is some strong holds on the offensive side of the ball at running back, tight end, and wide receiver.
Quarterbacks– Lets start with last years starting quarterback N’kosi Perry, The redshirt sophomore out of Ocala, FL. Perry has shown with a new offensive coordinator that he can be the guy for Coach Enos. Perry has been pretty consistent all spring, through spring practices and the three spring scrimmages. There is some concerns on can he mature and become the face of the program, and it seems that with the recent coaching change. Perry has shown he is ready to be the face of the Miami Hurricanes. Jarren Williams, the redshirt freshman out of Lawrenceville, GA. Williams maybe the most talented quarterback on the team and it shows in practice and games. Williams has struggled at times, but all the quarterbacks are having some learning mistakes in the new offense. Williams isn’t going to lay down and not fight for the starting job, but this isn’t something that is close to being decided. He had some nice throws in the spring game, but has to get rid of the ball quicker. Tate Martell, the redshirt sophomore transfer from Ohio State University. Martell is still learning the offensive and gaining chemistry with his offensive weapons. Martell is no doubt a play maker with his feet and showed signs that he can be a lead blocker for his running backs, but had a few throws for touchdowns that where great throws. Learning his weapons and building that chemistry will help him a lot, this is definitely a battle that will not end first week of fall.
Running Backs- Deejay Dallas, the Junior tailback out of Brunswick, GA. Dallas is looking to take the torch from Travis Homer this year, and be the lead back. Dallas plays with a lot of purpose, he’s not a guy that wants to go east and west a lot. He likes to find a hole and get north and south to gain as much yardage, but he doesn’t shy away from contact. Cam’ron Harris, the sophomore out of Miami, FL. Harris is looking to prove that he can be the running back the Hurricanes haven’t had since Duke Johnson. Harris is a big play threat when the ball gets in his hands, but he can catch the ball out of the backfield and has great vision. Lorenzo Lingard, the sophomore out of Orange City, FL. Lingard is still rehabbing from surgery last season. He still is learning the offense and could benefit from focusing on just that, but will still need to come back in the fall to show he is ready to be a 3rd feature running back in the offense. Robert Burns, the redshirt sophomore out of Miami, FL. Burns is recovering from an injury this spring. Asa Martin, the sophomore out of Courtland, AL. Martin has to sit out this year regardless. Due to the transfer rule, but he will look to recover fully and fight for playing time next season.
Wide Receivers- KJ Osborn, a graduate transfer from the University of Buffalo. Osborn has stepped on campus and become an immediate leader in the locker room. He brings a big body wide receiver that Miami needed, and has become all three quarterbacks target over the spring. Jeff Thomas, the junior out of East St. Louis, Illinois. After returning this off-season to the Hurricanes, Thomas has picked up where he left off. He has become more of a versatile weapon in Coach Enos offense, and is looking to prove he is ready to show it wasn’t all just hype in his college tenure. Mike Harley, the junior from Fort Lauderdale. Harley is looking to be more of a factor in the offense this year, even after having a lot of opportunity last year. He will be looking at making more of the opportunities this season. Mark Pope, the sophomore from Miami. Pope didn’t get a lot of opportunities last season, but this spring has seemed to of made an impression on the staff. Pope will be looking at fighting for a starting spot in the fall, and if his work from this spring translates. No doubt he will have the chance to, and the opportunity over the summer with the quarterbacks could benefit him. Jeremiah Payton, the freshman wide receiver out of Jacksonville, Fl. The early enrollee has become an impact for the offense, and definitely has benefited from arriving a semester early. Payton will be looking to earn some playing time this season. Brian Hightower, the wide receiver from IMG Academy. Hightower seemed to have been making moves this spring, and looking to earning some playing time before a knee injury. Hightower will likely be back for fall season, and will fight to earn his way on the field this season.
Tight Ends- Will Mallory, the tight end out of Jacksonville. Mallory has made a huge impact this spring, and showed he can make the most of his opportunities. The big body target has showed great hands, and he has become a main focus for all quarterbacks. Brevin Jordan, the tight end out of Las Vegas. Jordan has been injured this spring, but showed he was ready to pick up where he left off. He will be back in the fall, and will look to continue the two-headed monster that he and Mallory had going last season. Michael Irvin II, the tight end from Fort Lauderdale. Irvin has shown signs he could be a factor this season. He will look to gain some more opportunities this fall, but will have gain some consistency.
Offensive Line- Navaughn Donaldson, the offensive lineman out of Miami, Fl. Donaldson has become very versatile in the new offensive schemes, and it has been a plus for the Hurricanes. DJ Scaife, the offensive lineman out of Miami, Fl. Scaife has become the most consistent offensive tackle for Miami. New offensive line coach Butch Berry has already made some improvements in the short months he’s been here. John Campbell, the offensive lineman out of Orlando, FL. After redshirting last year and needing to learn a new offense already. Campbell has showned that he is ready to battle for a starting spot, but he will need to show some more consistency this fall. He already has show he is mature enough, and has stayed late after practice getting some extra reps in. Corey Gaynor, the redshirt sophomore out of Parkland, FL. Gaynor received some playing time last year, but was in and out of playing time. This off-season he is stepping up and earning more reps, but this fall will be looking to continue perfecting his craft. Cleveland Reed Jr, the offensive lineman out of Fort Meade, FL. Reed has been trying to earn his way into the rotation this cycle, and will continue to work on his game this fall. Kai-Leon Herbert, the offensive lineman out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. Herbert is another linement that has seemed to pick up with a new coach, and is trying to crack the rotation as well. Herbert will benefit with some more time under Coach Barry, and will be looking to improve his game this off-season.
Defensive End- Jonathan Garvin, the junior out of Lake Worth, FL. Garvin is coming off a great sophomore season, and will likely take over Joe Jackson role. Garvin has picked up this spring right where he left out last season, and he is looking to prove hisself to the NFL scouts this season what they will get in a pass rusher. Scott Patchen, the redshirt senior out of Bradenton, FL. Patchen has had one of his best springs in college this year, and he will continue to show he deserves to be in the rotation this season. Greg Rousseau, the redshirt freshman out of Coconut Creek, FL. Rousseau was injured all of last season, but has since recovered from his surgery and has made an impact this spring. Rousseau will be a force this fall and throughout the season this year. Jahfari Harvey, the freshman out of Port St. Lucie, FL. Harvey is an early enrollee that has shown he is going to be a stud for the Hurricanes, and he has impressed everyone this spring.
Defensive Tackle- Jonathan Ford, the junior out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. Ford has picked up steam this off-season, and has been a name that the coaches continue to talk about. Nesta Silvera, the sophomore out of Pembroke Pines, FL. Silvera is looking to become the replacement to Gerald Willis, which won’t be an easy task. The coaches have been impressed with the sophomore, but he will still look to show this fall that he is improving. Pat Bethel, the senior out of Vero Beach, FL. Bethel is looking to prove he can be a force up the middle for the Hurricanes. He has had a good spring and continues to work on crafting his game, so look for Bethel to prove his game in his last year. Jordan Miller, the redshirt freshman out of Jacksonville, FL. Miller benefitted last season from redshirting, and being able to focus on learning the playbook and trimming his body down in a college strength and conditioning program. Miller has had a good spring, and will look to gain some playing time this fall.
Linebackers- Shaquille Quarterman, the senior out of Orange Park, FL. Quarterman is looking to make a lasting impression and a statement for the future of the Hurricanes in his last year. He has taken on the leadership role left by Jaquan Johnson last season, and will look to lead his top ranked defense last season and continue to do it this season again. Michael Pickney, the senior out of Jacksonville, FL. Pickney has had one of his best off-seasons this year, and looks to make a statement of his place in the legacy of Hurricanes linebackers. Zach McCloud, the senior out of Lantana, FL. McCloud is looking to have a great season this year, as he is one of the trio linebackers that have been the starters for the last 3 years, McCloud will be looking to get healthy this off-season and have his best season yet. Bradley Jennings Jr, the redshirt sophomore out of Jacksonville, FL. Jennings is looking to earn more playing time this year, and since the linebacker position is real thin currently. Jennings will be leaned on a little more then normal, but hasn’t had a bad spring. Patrick Joyner JR, the redshirt freshman out of Homestead, FL. Joyner redshirted last year, and was a defensive end to start spring this year. With the lack of depth at linebacker he was moved back to linebacker, but he played this past week and seems to have held his own. Joyner was all across the field during the spring game, running sideline to sideline.
Cornerback- Trajan Bandy, the junior out of Miami, FL. Bandy has been a well-known name since arriving two years ago, and hasn’t stopped earning his way up the chain. He will be the number 1 guy for the Hurricanes this season in the secondary, and be the leader in the back in of the group. Bandy has had an impressive spring, and has been working on teaching the younger guys up. DJ Ivey, the sophomore out of Florida City, FL. Ivey received playing time last year, but after the spring has ended. It looks like Ivey is earning his way onto the starting role, but will still look to take what he’s done in spring camp over to fall camp. Al Blades Jr, the sophomore out of Fort Lauderdale. Blades has really come along this spring, and has shown he is earning is way into the rotation this year. He received quite a bit of playing time last year, but it is showing that he has been coached up. Nigel Bethel Jr, the redshirt freshman out of Miami, FL. Bethel Jr has improved and benefited from redshirting last year, yet he has been really well coached. Bethel Jr maybe the surprise of spring this year, as many vowed him as a special team kid. Coach Rumph and Coach Van Dyke has really done a great job with these cornerbacks.
Safeties- Amari Carter, the junior out of Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Carter is looking to become the starting safety, and has impressed this spring and it doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon. He will still battle the rest of the safeties for the starting spot, but it seems like he has separated himself this spring. Gurvan Hall, the sophomore out of West Palm Beach, FL. Hall has had a really good spring this year, and will try to fight for the other starting safety spot. More competition will come in this summer. Derrick Smith, the junior out of Jacksonville, FL. Smith was limited due to an injury, but he will be looking to have more playing time this season. Smith will need to have a great fall camp, and will have to prove his self this season. Romeo Finley, the senior out of Fort Walton Beach, FL. Finley has been the starting striker, and will continue that this season. Finley had a really good season last year, as the striker position was finally introduced fully. Now, Finley had a really good spring this year, and will look to have a great last season. Gilbert Frierson, the redshirt freshman out of Coral Gables, FL. Frierson is transitioning over to the striker position, while he was place as a cornerback last year. The transition has been going fairly easy for him, but like any transition it will take some learning curves to perfect it.
Coaching- The coaching staff defensively didn’t have much of a change, besides new defensive coordinator Coach Blake Baker and defensive line coach Todd Stroud. Coach Baker will bring the same defensive scheme Coach Diaz has the past 3 years, and Coach Stroud has experience coaching at the power 5 level for years and in the NFL for years. The offense has seen a complete coaching change, and it seems that the team has no complaints. The energy around the locker room is through the roof, but it isn’t only from the players. The coaches bring a lot of energy and life into a team that seemed to not have much last season, but with a young coaching staff. Coach Diaz will need to show he can translate all the off-season hype over to wins on the football field.