When the Hurricanes football season ended Nov. 25 it felt like we had a firm grasp as to who was coming back next season and who might be leaving early.
The consensus feeling was running back Lamar Miller would probably go and there was a chance defensive end Olivier Vernon and safety Ray-Ray Armstrong could join him. Since then, none of those three have announced anything, but receiver Tommy Streeter -- who at one point said he was coming back -- and defensive tackle Marcus Forston, who missed two seasons worth of games with injuries, decided they were heading out the door.
Could other unexpected third and fourth-year juniors follow suit? Absolutely. Who will leave? I've got no leads. But the more I think about the situation with Forston, the more I believe Al Golden had no problem letting him out the door. Anyone who has battled injury or has sat on the bench for 2-3 years without making an impact will probably be encouraged to leave, freeing up precious scholarships the school needs to load up on this next signing class.
Although Golden said in his press conference he believed "the worst was behind us" in terms of what sanctions UM could be facing from the NCAA, I've heard on my travels throughout Miami-Dade and Broward high schools over the past two weeks Golden and his assistants have been telling recruits "scholarships are limited." Several local coaches have told me UM is anticipating losing scholarships and thus is doing its best to create room by encouraging some current players to walk. Again, just what I'm hearing from outside -- nothing concrete from UM.
That being said, UM's depth chart will look awfully young next year. That's an enticing sell for freshman who want to play right away, but not necessarily a good look for an improvement from 6-6. Here's is the projected depth chart at the moment, assuming Miller leaves (rated second best RB by NFLDraftScout.com) and everyone else returns:
QB: Stephen Morris, Jr. | Ryan Williams, Jr.
RB: Mike James, Sr. | Eduardo Clements, Jr. | Darion Hall, R-So.
FB: Maurice Hagens, Jr. | John Calhoun, Sr.
WR: Allen Hurns, Jr. | Rashawn Scott, So.
WR: Phillip Dorsett, So. | Kendall Thompkins, Sr.
TE: Clive Walford, R-So. | Dyron Dye, R-Jr. | Asante Cleveland, Jr.
LT: Seantrel Henderson, Jr. | Jermaine Johnson, R-Jr.
LG: Brandon Washington, Sr. | Jeremy Lewis, Sr.
C: Shane McDermott, R-So. | Jared Wheeler, R-Jr.
RG: Brandon Linder, Jr. | Malcolm Bunche, R-So.
RT: Jonathan Feliciano, R-So. | Jermaine Barton, R-So.
DE: Anthony Chickillo, So. | Shayon Green, R-Jr.
DT: Adewale Ojomo, Sr. | Jalen Grimble, So.
DT: Curtis Porter, Jr. | Darius Smith, Sr.
DE: Olivier Vernon, Sr. | Olsen Pierre, So.
WLB: Denzel Perryman, So. | C.J. Holton, Sr.
MLB: Kelvin Cain, Jr. | Gionni Paul, So.
SLB: James Gaines, Jr. | Eddie Johnson, So.
CB: Brandon McGee, Sr. | Dallas Crawford, So.
CB: Thomas Finnie, So. | Kacy Rodgers, Jr.
SS: Ray-Ray Armstrong, Sr. | Andrew Swasey, Sr.
FS: Vaughn Telemaque, Sr. | A.J. Highsmith, R-Jr.
K: Jake Wiecalw, Sr. | Matt Goudis, So.
P: Dalton Botts, Jr.
KR: Phillip Dorsett, So. | Davon Johnson, Sr.
PR: Phillip Dorsett, So. | Kendall Thompkins, Sr.
> Now, this depth chart didn't have a single incoming freshman included in it because obviously they haven't officially signed a National Letter of Intent. But if you look at the players UM has committed at the moment, it's obvious receivers Angelo Jean-Louis (Palm Beach Central) and Malcolm Lewis (Miramar High) and running back Duke Johnson (Miami Norland) all have an opportunity to come in and help right away on offense and special teams.
Defensively, there are huge glaring holes and needs in the secondary and at linebacker. The most college ready linebackers are considered Raphael Kirby (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Reggie Northrup (Jacksonville First Coast). The true freshman corner that could make an impact is Coral Reef's Vernon Davis. Little known JUCO corner Ladarius Gunter -- a recent commitment -- could also play right away as well as any other junior college additions.
So what do you think of this depth chart and the outlook for 2012? Discuss.