In case you missed it, our Susan Miller Degnan first reported earlier this evening that at least eight players questioned by the NCAA for allegedly taking improper benefits have been ruled ineligible by UM and they are each in the process of seeking reinstatement.
Two of the eight we know of are quarterback Jacory Harris and linebacker Sean Spence. Each of the eight ineligible players has an opportunity to be reinstated and return before the season-opener at Maryland Sept. 5. Last year, former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was deemed ineligible before the SEC Championship game by Auburn and two days later he was back.
Still, the possibility very much exists we may not get an answer on any of the eight as quickly as Newton, in light of the number of allegations levied. The NCAA will now review each ineligible player’s case and either reinstate them – every case is handled individually – or rule how many games they have to sit out for suspension.
Harris was locked into a big-time battle for the starting job with sophomore Stephen Morris this fall and was "nothing short of excellent" according to coach Al Golden. According to UM, Harris and Morris went a combined 77 of 109 for 954 yards, 11 TDs and 1 interception (Morris reportedly threw the pick) in two scrimmages.
But with Harris now ruled out and his reinstatement status uncertain, Morris moves to the front of the line to start against Maryland. Last season, he had arguably his best game against the Terps, tossing the game-winning 35-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Hankerson with 37 seconds left to rally UM to victory. He had an interception returned for a touchdown, but finished 18-for-30 for 286 yards.
The Hurricanes do not have any scholarship quarterbacks beyond Morris eligible at the moment. UM has been trying to get a hardship waiver for Memphis transfer and former Miramar High quarterback Ryan Williams, but hasn't received it yet according to Golden, who was asked about it again before Thursday's practice.
The bigger loss, though, could be on defense where Spence had clearly solidified himself as UM's leader.
One of seven Hurricanes to start all 13 games last season, he finished second on the team and fifth in the ACC with 111 tackles and had a team leading 16 tackles for loss, fourth most in the conference. UM coach Al Golden said in camp it was likely Spence would be in charge of calling defensive plays for UM and organizing the defense.
Freshmen Gionni Paul and Denzel Perryman and senior Jordan Futch are three players who could replace Spence if he's suspended or ruled ineligible permanently. Perryman, however, didn't practice Thursday and was seen in a walking boot according to InsideTheU.com