As UM football continues to slog towards Chestnut Hill, we here at the 7th Floor will breakdown each position group on the team. Today, we will be looking at the offensive line. The Seantrel drama has overshadowed the meteoric rise of a true freshman, and a lot of stellar work by established guys. This line should be a lot better than most people anticipate.
The offensive line of last season was actually pretty good. Allowing only 19 sacks last year (for comparison, FSU's line allowed 41, BC's allowed 24, UNC's allowed 27, and VT's allowed 17). As for 2012, the line has quite a bit to replace, losing Tyler Horn at center and guards Brandon Washington and Harland Gunn. A lot of people were concerned with how Seantrel Henderson would play, saying that his impact would make or break the offensive line. After almost an entire off season, it's become clear that while his presence is needed, it isn't necessary.
BRANDON LINDER / Junior / 6'6" 310 lbs / Fort Lauderdale, FL
2011 Stats: Allowed 1.5 sacks and recorded 5 penalties
Linder is by far one of if not the most experience guy on this line. He started all 12 games last season, and played very well, grading out at 90% (I'll admit, I'm not completely sure what that entails). I do know that he himself allowed only 1 and a half sacks, and that's a great number. He has spent all of the spring in the top spot at right guard, and shows no signs of giving up his spot. He is a solid player and looks to be even more so this year.
SHANE MCDERMOTT / Redshirt Sophomore / 6'4" 290 lbs / West Palm Beach, FL
2011 Stats: Played in 10 games, allowed no sacks and registered zero penalties
McDermott spent most of 2011 playing behind Tyler Horn, and coming into this spring he has shown that he is ready to handle the full time center role. Early on there was competition between he and Jared Wheeler, but McDermott separated himself from Wheeler and will be your starting center come week one.
JONATHAN FELICIANO / Redshirt Sophomore / 6'5" 320 lbs / Fort Lauderdale, FL
2011 Stats: Played in 10 games, starting in 8. Allowed zero sacks.
Feliciano was a welcome surprise for the Canes in 2011, coming off a redshirt season and starting in 8 games. He missed the middle of the schedule with an injury, but did come back for the final three games. He played very well at the left guard position, and looks to build on his success this year. Early in the spring he was in a battle with Jermaine Johnson, but has locked down the starting job over the course of the practices. At this point it looks like injury would be the only thing keeping him from starting every game this year.
MALCOLM BUNCHE / Redshirt Sophomore / 6'7" 325 lbs / New Berlin, NY
2011 Stats: Played in 8 games, starting 1
Malcolm Buncheplayed fairly well last season in limited action coming off a redshirt freshman campaign. He is an incredibly large man, and was more or less immediately penciled into the starting left tackle spot at the start of the spring. He was attempting to hold off super freshman Ereck Flowersat the get go, but that situation has since changed drastically, with Flowers moving into a de facto starter role on the other side of the line (more on that in a bit). Currently Ben Jones is listed as Bunche's backup, but with the way Bunche has been performing, Jones may not see the field very often.
SEANTREL HENDERSON / Junior / 6'8" 330 lbs / Saint Paul, MN
2011 Stats: Played in 8 games and started in 2, allowing zero sacks and drawing 1 penalty
Ok. Let's "tackle" the very large, strong elephant in the room. Henderson coming into this year was expected to have a breakout season, and then was expected to leave early for the NFL. Controversy has always swirled around him from the start of his recruitment, and has yet to end. Currently, he is not expected to play in at least the first game, possibly more, as he deals with an extremely difficult last couple of weeks. He had two childhood friends and a family member pass within the same week. He was involved in a car accident in which a child was injured. He has been battling concussion systems so that he can get back on the field. On top of all of this, he has had to hear fnas of his school and others talk bad about him, speculate on whether or not he is even still on the team, and debate whether or not he is a bust. Understandably, this is all quite a bit for a college kid to handle at once, and Golden has addressed that.
Seantrel is part of our football program, and Seantrel has got to get his house in order before he can help us, and that's the truth. I mean he's got a lot of things going on. I'm going to keep it private with him right now. I think I owe him that. I think he's got to get himself together, then he can help the Miami Hurricanes.
At some point, Seantrel will get things evened out in his life, and he will either be back with the team doing what he can to help out, or he will decide that this isn't what he wants to do anymore, and that he is done with the game.
ERECK FLOWERS / Freshman / 6'6" 312 lbs / Miami, FL
2011 Stats: N/A
Miami took a flyer on a fairly unheralded recruit out of Miami Norland high school, and it has paid off in a huge (hah!), huge (hah again!) way. Flowers has moved from a guy who had a decent junior high school year and a very good senior year, to the starting right tackle of his hometown college team. Granted, his starting spot is in a large (OK I'm done) part because of Seantrel's personal struggles, but it cannot be understated that he was battling for that spot regardless. Flowers is doing everything right, is remaining humble, and is showing up and working hard every single day. Normally, entrusting a true freshman with the job of protecting your QB from outside threats is a harrowing one, but if there is a young guy on the team that is up to the task, it's Ereck.
JERMAINE JOHNSON / Redshirt Junior / 6'6" 320 lbs / Fort Lauderdale, FL
2011 Stats: Played in 1 game
Johnson is a combo guy who can be play either right guard or right tackle, and has been putting pressure on both spots. He only saw action in one game last season, but has come into this off season as a completely different guy. Coaches have been raving about his work ethic, and the payoff has been a number 2 spot at right tackle (again, this shows you just how well Flowers is playing), and also a backup role at guard. Johnson will be key in providing depth for the line this year.
JARED WHEELER / Redshirt Junior / 6'5" 315 lbs / Fort Lauderdale, FL
2011 Stats: Played in 11 games
Wheeler will serve as McDermott's backup at the center position. The two were battling pretty closely for the first part of the spring, but McDermott ended up pulling away and grabbing the starting spot. Wheeler is a very capable guy in the middle of the line, and provides valuable depth in case McDermott goes down with an injury
BEN JONES / Redshirt Senior / 6'5" 320 lbs / Miami, FL
2011 Stats: N/A
Currently listed as a backup at both the left tackle and left guard spots, Jones will likely see plenty of playing time after being a scout teamer last season. He has really improved his game from a year ago, and is in the best shape of his career. He shares the two-spot distinction with Jermaine Johnson, who is working the right guard/tackle spots as a backup. Jones is a big guy who has been around the program for a long while, and his experience and skills will help out a line that should see a rather short rotation list.
DANIEL ISIDORA / Freshman / 614" 345 lbs / Fort Lauderdale, FL (Sense a theme yet?)
2011 Stats: N/A
Isidora was a three star recruit out of high school, and will be a very solid guy for the Canes. He is currently listed as a backup at the guard spot behind Brandon Linder, and has been battling Jermaine Johnson in that spot as well. While you hope Linder plays the season out without injury, Isidora should actually be a very capable fill in even though he is a true freshman.
TAYLOR GADBOIS / Freshman / 6'8" 286 lbs / Dallas, GA
2011 Stats: N/A
Taylor was actually a highly regarded recruit in the 2011 class, but ended up heading to prep school for a year before joining the Canes in 2012. He's a big kid who is not listed on the depth chart, but will be one of the guys backing up the starters if they need a breather or get hurt. Long term, Gadbois is going to be a very good player for the Canes, and should have no issue seeing a starting spot with his name on it next year.