It's still a long way until the start of football at The U. I know many of you are starving for any crumbs you can find on your favorite team.
While we'll probably have to wait until the start of July to actually start getting access to players (and fresh interviews), I figured we could pass the time by starting to take a closer look at the players who should be on the field for UM on Sept. 7 in Tallahassee.
For the past three days, I've spent time looking over the roster and ranking the Top 60 Canes based on what they mean to the program, what they've done for the program and what we should expect from them in 2009. While there are 85 players on scholarship, I didn't feel right ranking guys who will probably never see the field (at least this season) and any incoming freshmen who aren't expected to do much in their first year. So, if you don't see Ian Symonette or Prince Kent or Cannon Smith, it's not because I forgot about them. They just weren't in the Top 60.
ESPN's Heather Dinich is currently ranking the Top 30 Players in The ACC on her blog. So far, only kicker Matt Bosher (No. 30) has appeared for Miami. I've got Bosher in my Top 60. But he's not No. 1. He's not even top five.
Anyway, here's how Eye On The U ranks the Top 60 players at UM heading into the start of the season. We'll start with No. 60...
C.J. Holton, LB
> What we heard about him on Signing Day '08: A standout at Crawfordville Wakulla, Holton was ranked the seventh best safety in the country by both ESPN and Rivals and a consensus Top 200 player nationally. He was a playmaker as a senior, making 65 tackles, six interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) while helping Wakulla to an 8-3 season. He chose UM over nearby Florida State.
What he's done as a Cane: Played mostly on the scout team as he was redshirted in 2008. He had two tackles in the spring game including one for loss.
What Eye On The U expects from him in '09: Holton is an intriguing player because he wasn't somebody you heard a whole heck of a lot about because he was buried on the depth chart behind older players like Ryan Hill, Randy Phillips, Jojo Nicholas and even fellow freshman Vaughn Telemaque at safety.
But now that he's been moved to outside linebacker -- where there are plenty of Canes who still need to prove themselves -- the 6-2, 195-pounder might be able to shine. He certainly did in testing. His 308-pound power clean was tied for the sixth strongest on the team. Ramon Buchanon (318) was the only linebacker who was stronger. And Holton's 4.48-speed in the 40 is tied with Buchanon for fastest among linebackers. If Jordan Futch, Arthur Brown or any other guys in front of him falter, look for Holton to be the surprise performer at linebacker.