« Will '09 be different? Fox, Cooper, Phillips say so | Main | Top 60 Countdown: No. 44, RB Lee Chambers »

Top 60 Countdown: No. 45, DE Olivier Vernon

As we inch closer to midway point in counting down the Top 60 players at the University of Miami, we inspect No. 45 on our list: Freshman defensive end Olivier Vernon. The local product enrolled in January and turned heads this spring with his speed and agility getting to the quarterback. How good is Vernon? Maybe better than what was first anticipated.

At 6-3, 250, freshman Olivier Vernon has the size and speed to become a special pass rusher for the Hurricanes this season. > What we heard about him on Signing Day '09: The Hialeah American High product didn't play his senior because of an ankle injury, but he kept his word on his early commitment to Miami. The Hurricanes didn't need to see much from Vernon beyond his junior year to be sold on his talents. He had 52 tackles, 12.5 sacks and 21 tackles. Florida State and Alabama tried their best to sway Vernon away. But the 6-3, 250-pound end (rated 9th by Scout.com, 11th by Rivals, 19th by ESPN) chose UM and enrolled in January.

> What he's done as a Cane: Next to running back Mike James, most would say Vernon had the biggest spring of any of the six players who enrolled early. He started the spring game and had four tackles and a sack, beating left tackle Jason Fox to get to Jacory Harris.

> What Eye On The U expects from him in '09: Defensive line coach Clint Hurtt doesn't like to let his players get big-headed. But its hard for him to contain his excitement over Vernon, who has special pass rusher written all over him the way Marcus Robinson does. Vernon certainly has the body to play right away. The fact he didn't play his senior year means his body is relatively fresh. If he can stay healthy (and not tweak that ankle), he could become the Hurricane's second best pass rusher behind Robinson. And I think that's exactly what happens. Look for to make an impact.