« UM hires Craig Anderson as its new compliance director | Main | Hurricanes (9-0) baseball to meet Gators (3-6) in three-game series at Gainesville »

Previewing Spring Practice for the Canes

With spring football practice set to begin Saturday (scrimmages are set for March 23rd at Traz Powell, April 5th in Naples and April 13th at Sun Life Stadium) here is a look at the top story lines at each position entering camp. (FYI, UM is expected to release a new spring depth chart in the coming days.)

OFFENSE
- Only five seniors who appeared on the two-deep were lost to graduation: running back Mike James, offensive tackle Ben Jones (one start), backup left guard Jeremy Lewis and receivers Kendal Thompkins and Davon Johnson

That hardly seems tough to replace, but the big transition here is coaching. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch (Jacksonville Jaguars) is gone along with receivers coach George McDonald (Syracuse) and running backs coach Terry Richardson (Jacksonville Jaguars). James Coley comes over from Florida State with only one year of play-calling experience to take over for Fisch as offensive coordinator. UM promoted Hurlie Brown to running backs coach and hired Larry Scott away from USF to coach tight ends after Brennan Carroll made the move over to receivers coach. UM ranked 37th in total yardage offense (25th in passing; 87th in rushing) and averaged 31.2 points per game in 2012 (49th out of 120 FBS schools).

QUARTERBACKS
Returning starter 
17 Stephen Morris (6-2, 214, Sr., Miami Monsignor Pace) 
Backup 
11 Ryan Williams (6-6, 223, Jr., Miramar High)
Redshirted/Reserves
13 Gray Crow (6-3, 222, R-Fr., Clearwater Countryside)
12 Preston Dewey (6-2, 208, R-Fr., Austin, Tex.)
19 David Thompson (6-2, 207, R-Fr., Miami Westminster Christian)
Fall arrival
Kevin Olsen (6-3, 196, Fr., Wayne Hills, N.J.)

> STORYLINE: There is no reason to be worried about the starting spot here as it looks like Morris and Coley are hitting it off. But it will be interesting to see who among the returning freshmen catches the eye of UM's new offensive coordinator. David Thompson will not be around because he's playing baseball, but Gray Crow and Preston Dewey will. With Kevin Olsen set to arrive in the fall and 2014 commitment Alin Edouard (Hialeah High) already handpicked by Coley the pressure will be on for Crow and Dewey to do something this spring. If they don't, don't be surprised if they end up elsewhere. 

RUNNING BACKS
Returning starters
 8 Duke Johnson (RB, 5-9, 188, So., Miami Norland) 
33 Maurice Hagens (FB, 5-11, 238, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech) 
Backups 
23 Eduardo Clements (5-9, 192, Sr., Miami Booker T. Washington) 
25 Dallas Crawford (5-10, 190, So., South Fort Myers) 
Redshirted/reserves 
32 Danny Dillard (6-2, 225, R-Fr., Venice) 
Walk-ons 
27 Jameson Labady (5-11, 215, Sr., North Miami) 
48 Brandon Yosha (6-0, 183, So., Carmel, Ind.) 
Fall arrivals
Augustus Edwards (6-1, 222, Fr., Staten Island, N.Y.)
Cornelius Elder (5-11, 170, Fr., Nashville, Tenn.)

> STORYLINE: Coming off a fantastic freshman season Johnson should look even bigger and better coming off off-season workouts. The concern here is who backs him up moving forward with Mike James gone. Clements (neck) has health concerns. Crawford carried the ball just six times for 23 yards last season. He will be given first shot and we also should get a good look at Dillard in camp. But those are just two names. Incoming freshmen Gus Edwards and Cornelius Elder won't arrive until the fall. But if Crawford and Dillard don't impress in the spring, Edwards and Elder may actually come in and compete for playing time right away. 

OFFENSIVE LINE
Returning starters
79 Malcolm Bunche (LT, 6-7, 323, R-Jr., Newark, Del.)
70 Jon Feliciano (LG, 6-5, 314, R-Jr., Davie Western)
62 Shane McDermott (C, 6-4, 296, Jr., Palm Beach Central)
65 Brandon Linder (RG, 6-6, 312, Sr., Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas)
77 Seantrel Henderson (RT, 6-8, 340, Sr., St. Paul, Minn.)
Backups 
74 Ereck Flowers (LT/RT, 6-6, 314, So., Miami Norland)
63 Danny Isidora (RG, 6-4, 312, R-Fr., Weston Cypress Bay)
75 Jared Wheeler (C, 6-5, 312, Sr., Plantation American Heritage)
64 Hunter Wells (OL, 6-4, 300, So., Canton, Ill.)
Redshirted/reserves 
76 Taylor Gadbois (OL, 6-8, 310, R-Fr., Dallas, Ga.) 
Spring arrivals 
Hunter Knighton (6-5, 265, Fr., Pottstown, Penn.)
Sunny Odogwu (6-8, 311, Fr., Baltimore, Mary.) 
Fall arrivals
Alex Gall (6-5, 295, Fr., Cincinnati, Ohio)

> STORYLINE: The huge bright spot entering camp and the season is the return of all five starters on the offensive line as well as four solid backups in Flowers, Isidora, Wheeler and Wells. Will any of those guys push for a starting spot? Flowers and Isidora probably could. The stories to follow this spring are newcomers Sunny Odogwu and Hunter Knighton. Golden is thrilled about both. They need to show they can be ready by 2014. 

TIGHT ENDS
Returning starters
46 Clive Walford (6-4, 248, Jr., Belle Glades Glades Central)
Reserves
82 Asante Cleveland (6-5, 260, Sr., Sacramento, Calif.)
Walk-ons
43 Sean Harvey (6-4, 260, Jr., Largo Indian Rocks, Fla.)
Position switch
95 Jake O'Donnell (DE, 6-6, 243, R-Fr., Doylestown, Penn.) 
Spring arrivals
Standish Dobard (6-4, 255, Fr., Belle Chasse, La.)
Beau Sandland (6-6, 255, Jr., Woodland Hills, Calif.)
Fall arrivals
Ryheem Lockley (6-4, 217, Fr., Middlesex, Va.)

> STORYLINE: Al Golden told our Barry Jackson earlier this month Dyron Dye and David Perry were being switched to defensive end. Why? Because he was bringing in two studs in Dobard and Sandland, considered the top JUCO tight end in the country. Both should look good alongside Walford (25 catches, 451 yards, 4 TDs) as pass-catching tight ends moving forward. 

RECEIVERS
Returning starters
4 Phillip Dorsett (5-9, 187, Jr., Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas)
1 Allen Hurns (6-3, 195, Sr., Miami Carol City)
80 Rashawn Scott (6-2, 202, Jr., Melbourne Central High)
86 Herb Waters (6-2, 185, So., Homestead)
Backups
9 Malcolm Lewis (6-0, 192, So., Miramar)
6 Robert Lockhart Jr. (6-1, 188, So., Delray Beach)
Redshirted/Reserves
81 Jontavious Carter (6-2, 203, R-Fr., Cordele, Ga.)
15 D'Mauri Jones (6-4, 190, R-Fr., Leesburg, Fla.)
Walk-ons
18 Chad Barnes (5-8, 170, R-Sr., Weston Cypress Bay)
37 Alex Irastorza (6-3, 190, Sr., Miami Columbus)
87 Garrett Kidd (6-2, 186, So., Midland, Mich.)
24 Joey McNeill (5-10, 172, Jr., Newton, Penn.)
24 Stephen Sweeney (5-11, 184, So., Ridgewood, N.J.)
Fall arrivals
Derrick Griffin (6-6, 215, Fr., Rosenberg, Tex.)
Stacy Coley (6-1, 175, Fr., Oakland Park Northeast)

> STORYLINES: Dorsett (58 catches, 842 yards, 4 TDs) proved to be the go-to target for most of the 2012 season and will once again enter camp as that guy. The players to watch will be Scott, who was suspended indefinitely after nine games and was having a stellar season (35 catches, 512 yards, 3 TDs) before that and Lewis, who of course was having a great freshman season before dislocating his left ankle and fracturing his fibula. Lewis, I'm told, will not participate in team drills during the spring but will be around.

DEFENSE
-- There are only three seniors from the two-deep that are gone: starting cornerback Brandon McGee, backup defensive tackle Darius Smith and backup safety Vaughn Telemaque. But there were other losses. Cornerback Thomas Finnie was booted off the team after being involved in a laptop theft on campus, third-leading tackler Gionni Paul was booted from the team, and fourth-leading tackler and talented outside linebacker Eddie Johnson remains suspended indefinitely.

The Hurricanes had a horrific season in 2012 on defense statistically, ranking 116th in total yardage, 112th against the run, 102nd in pass defense and 82nd in scoring defense (30.5 ppg). They also produced just 13 sacks in 12 games. The good? UM produced 22 turnovers on defense -- 11 INTs and 11 fumbles.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Returning starters
71 Anthony Chickillo (DE, 6-4, 265, Jr., Tampa Alonso)
91 Olsen Pierre (DT, 6-4, 296, Jr., Rahway, N.J.)
96 Curtis Porter (DT, 6-1, 308, Sr., Charlotte, N.C.)
51 Shayon Green (DE, 6-3, 260, Sr., Tifton, Ga.)
Backups
94 Kelvin Cain (DE, 6-3, 245, Sr., Clovis, Calif.)
99 Jelani Hamilton (DE, 6-5, 271, So., Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas)
17 Tyriq McCord (DE, 6-3, 236, So., Tampa Jefferson)
92 Jalen Grimble (DL, 6-2, 292, Jr., Las Vegas, Nev.)
66 Dequan Ivery (DT, 6-1, 303, So., Lake City, Fla.)
67 Corey King (DT, 6-1, 292, So., West Boca Raton)
72 Earl Moore (DT, 6-1, 300, So., Tampa Hillsborough)
93 Luther Robinson (DT, 6-3, 290, Sr., Fort Pierce Westwood)
90 Ricardo Williams (DE, 6-5, 251, So., Homestead)
Redshirted/reserves
87 Jacoby Briscoe (DT, 6-5, 312, R-Fr., Lafayette, La.)
97 Dwayne Hoilett (DE, 6-3, 247, R-Fr., Vero Beach)
Position switch
49 Dyron Dye (6-5, 258, R-Sr., Sanford Seminole, Fla.) 
85 David Perry (6-7, 265, Jr., University School) 
Fall arrivals
Al-Quadin Muhammad (6-4, 225, Fr., Ramsey, N.J.)
Ufomba Kamalu (6-5, 280, Jr., Butler Community College, Kan.)

> STORYLINE: UM's run defense was a complete joke for most of the season -- surrendering 217.92 yards per game. But over the final three games, the Canes allowed an average of just 137 (that would have ranked 32nd as a season average). The common denominator? A healthy Porter at defensive tackle. He played in just four games last season, starting the final three alongside Pierre. Porter has played in just 15 games over his four years at Miami. Aside from him, it will be interesting to see how Chickillo (team-leading four sacks) bounces back from an average sophomore season. Will he get pass rushing help from any of the sophomores or redshirt freshmen? McCord produced 3.5 sacks last season. Believe it or not, he and Cain (1 sack) were the only other defensive ends to sack the quarterback. Dye and Perry move over from tight end and will attempt to become pass-rushers themselves.

LINEBACKERS
Returning starters
59 Jimmy Gaines (6-3, 232, Sr., Getzville, N.Y.)
34 Thurston Armbrister (6-3, 222, Jr., Hollywood Hills)
52 Denzel Perryman (6-0, 230, Jr., Coral Gables)
Backups
31 Tyrone Cornileus (6-2, 215, Sr., Stone Mountain, Ga.)
56 Raphael Kirby (6-0, 223, So., Stone Mountain, Ga.)
58 Gabe Terry (6-3, 215, So., Palm Beach Central)
Redshirted/reserves
54 JaWand Blue (6-0, 210, R-Fr., West Boca Raton)
Suspended indefinitely
44 Eddie Johnson (6-1, 234, R-So., Stone Mountain, Ga.)
Walk-ons
47 Akil Craig (6-1, 226, R-Sr., Tampa Jesuit)
57 Nantambu Fentress (5-9, 205, Jr., Nashville, Tenn.)
Spring arrivals
Alex Figueroa (6-3, 225, Fr., Stafford, Va.)
Fall arrivals
Jermaine Grace (6-1, 196, Fr., Miramar)
Devante Bond, 6-3, 230, Jr., Sierra Community College, Calif.)

> STORYLINE:  Losing Eddie Johnson could hurt the Canes immensely despite the return of a couple of other veterans. Gaines, Kirby and Perryman are all coming off injury-plagued seasons. It will be interesting to see what they can do when fully healthy and recovered and coming of a good off-season. The new arrival -- Figueroa -- has a chance to put himself in position to compete for playing time. It will be interesting to see just how much talent he has along with Blue and Terry.

SECONDARY
Returning starters
2 Deon Bush (S, 6-1, 195, So. Miami Columbus)
37 Ladarius Gunter (CB, 6-2, 196, Jr., Montgomery, Ala.)
30 AJ Highsmith (S, 6-0, 208, Sr., Missouri City, Texas)
29 Rayshawn Jenkins (S, 6-1, 203, So., St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut)
22 Kacy Rodgers II (CB/S, 6-2, 212, Sr., Southlake, Texas)
Backups

21 Antonio Crawford (CB, 5-11, 188, So., Tampa Plant)
3 Tracy Howard (CB, 5-11, 185, So., Miramar High)
Redshirted/reserves
35 Nate Dortch (CB, 5-11, 175, R-Fr., South Fort Myers)
11 Larry Hope (CB, 6-0, 183, R-Fr., Miami American)
Walk-ons
38 Jordan Tolson (6-1, 192, Jr., Inglewood, Calif.)
Fall arrivals
Jamal Carter (6-1, 175, Fr., Miami Southridge)
Artie Burns (6-0, 183, Fr., Miami Northwestern)
Ray Lewis III (5-10, 192, Fr., Lake Mary Prep) 

> STORYLINE: The cornerback position has just one proven starter back in Gunter, but plenty of talent and potential with Howard and Crawford coming back after playing a lot as freshmen. That trio will be interesting to watch throughout camp along with the progress of Dortch and Hope, who were both redshirted last season. The safety position appears to be in much better hands in terms of experience. Can Jenkins and Bush push Highsmith and Rodgers out of the starting lineup for good? Strong reinforcements will arrive in the fall in terms of Carter, Burns and Lewis III. 

SPECIAL TEAMS
18 Matt Goudis (K, 6-0, 172, So., West Hills, Calif.)
Walk-ons
46 Ricky Perez (K, 5-8, 182, So., Miami Krop)
88 Zach Costa (K/P, 6-2, 209, So., Hillsdale, N.J.)
88 Ronald Regula (LS/TE, 6-2, 225, Jr., Miami Palmetto)
27 Ricky Carroll (P, 6-3, 185, Sr., Mission Viejo, Calif.)

> STORYLINES: You can't underestimate the losses of kicker Jake Wieclaw and punter Dalton Botts. Both were among the best in the ACC at their respective positions. Now Goudis, who participated in just three kickoffs, is the likely front-runner to handle both of those duties.

Comments