The time is almost here, people. A little over a week from now, the boys will be suiting up on the practice field, and we will finally get a look at all those freshman recruits that everyone wanted to see. But where does the team stand as far as scholarship numbers? Who ended up being casualties of grades or other circumstances? Hit the jump for a quick rundown of what to expect once camp starts on August 3rd.
Let's begin with a few bits of news gleaned from the ACC Kickoff. First of all, while we all expect Stephen Morris to be the starting quarterback, Golden stated that he would be naming a started officially sometime during the week of August 12th. It would be a huge surprise if Morris isn't the guy, but hey, anything is possible right? Golden also had a bit of sad news to pass along regarding one of the incoming freshman. LB Josh Witt likely will not suit up for the Canes at all due to concussion issues carrying over from high school. While he wasn't necessarily heralded coming in, he was showing great promise and could have been a good one. We wish him the best going forward. Golden also spoke about Sentreal Henderson at relative length. He said that he was doing very well, and that he was internally punished for being pretty late to the summer session. He reiterated that he will not be suspended, and has responded by working his tail off. Perhaps the best part of this news was Golden reporting that Henderson was at or below 340 lbs for the first time in his career. This bodes well for the young man's play on the line this year.
Now, on to the freshman class and where it stands. As mentioned above, Josh Witt will not be playing, so that's one casualty. The second, as we all know, is Angelo Jean-Louis, who will be spending a year in prep school before hopefully returning to Miami as part of next year's class. The third and final casually of the 2012 class is David Thompson. While he is enrolled at UM, he had to undergo shoulder surgery, and will end up playing baseball before he suits up for football. Look for him to enter the QB conversation next year along with Kevin Olsen. Up until a few days ago, there figured to be a fourth missing piece, RB Danny Dillard. However, Golden mentioned that the NCAA Clearinghouse's work was about done, and he fully expected Dillard to be with the team August 1st. This is GREAT news, since his size and added depth at the position will be a welcome thing. For those who aren't counting, that means the final 2012 class number comes to 30 out of the original 33 signed. A quick reminder, 9 of these kids counted towards the 2011 class as early enrollers, which brings the class total down to 21, four below the 25 signee limit. This also means that the 2013 class has room for 4 kids to enroll early and count towards 2012.
Speaking of signing limits and NCAA rules governing how many kids you can have on a team, the Canes figure to be below the 85 scholarship limit, even with Dillard joining the team. A quick count provided by a great Twitter follow @SaveUMFootball breaks it down as follows:
QB - 5
RB - 5
FB - 1
WR - 10
TE - 5
OL - 14
DT - 9
DE - 9
OLB - 7
MLB - 3
S - 5
CB - 8
K - 2
P - 1
This totals up to 84 scholarship players, one below the required limit.
The question regarding potential PSU transfers has been asked in a comment on another post, and I figured since scholarship numbers play into it, I would put my thoughts down on it here as well. The deal with these guys is that they can transfer anywhere they want and play immediately. The rumor (I am not aware if it was made fact or not, if so, correct me) is that the NCAA is also waiving the rules on the 85 scholarship limit for any school that takes in a PSU transfer. The way this works is if you take a transfer, and you now have 86 scholarship players for 2012, you then have to counteract that transfer in 2013, meaning you would only be able to count 84 scholarship players. In Miami's case, doing so would be a pretty big gamble, because we will most assuredly be hit with some sort of scholarship reduction by the NCAA due to the Shapiro scandal. Assuming those reductions go into effect in 2013, adding to those reductions by having to account for any PSU transfers could really hurt the team. Personally, I would feel sort of weird about taking transfers from PSU given the circumstances surrounding why they are being allowed to do so. Given Golden's PSU history, I'm sure the idea of attempting to lure a player to his team in the wake of what happened feels wrong, although I can't of course speak to his mindset in this situation. Duke's David Cutcliffe has already come out and said that he will not be pursuing any of PSU's players, but that he wouldn't turn any of them down if they contacted him first. I would expect this is probably the approach a lot of coaches will take, just as I suspect there are plenty of coaches who probably have already extended scholarship offers to some of those players. Numbers wise, Miami could take one player and not have to worry about tweaking the scholarship limit in either direction next year. Whether they will do it or not, who knows.
Now, back to the happier football stuff. As far as the depth chart goes, anyone can only speculate as to who will start where. Golden was adamant at the Kickoff that he does not care what class you are, whether senior or freshman, if you can play and help the team win, you will. He said that he anticipates no less than 18 (!!!) freshman playing this season, which is a bit shocking at first before you look at it and realize its probably dead on. For starters, Tracy Howard will likely end up starting, maybe not to begin the season, but at some point a few games in. Duke Johnson will have a large part in the offense. With Ray Ray gone, Deon Bush likely will help shore up the safety ranks. Tyriq McCord will likely see playing time on the defensive line. Raphael Kirby may end up a starting linebacker, but will at least be in the rotation and get playing time. Malcolm Lewis and Robert Lockhart will most likely see playing time at wide receiver. That's 7 out of the 18 right there, and we haven't even factored in any of the offensive and defensive line guys like Ereck Flowers, DeQuan Ivery, or Jacoby Briscoe. This team will definitely go through some growing pains, and while that may effect the outcome of some games, the team and the players will be better in the long run for it. There's one thing you cannot coach, teach, or ingrain, and that's in-game experience.
When it comes to the leaders on the team, Golden was quick to rattle off a few names. He said that on the defensive line, Chickillo and Green have been the steady guys leading their guys. He singled out Perryman, Telemaque, and McGee in the defensive backfield. On offense, he listed Mike Jame and Morris as the guys who have stepped up. All of these guys as well as their upperclassman counterparts will need to be as steady as possible to help the new guys get used to the environment. The success of the team rests firmly on the shoulders of the guys that have been there before helping the guys providing the youthful enthusiasm direct their time and energy in the first directions. We all know this as Golden's "process." He is still reaching about that process, and he says that while they aren't fully there yet, this year's team has made huge strides in getting there, and they are in a much better position to win than last year's team.
Questions about anything I may have missed? Leave em below!