Usually, I'd write a long preamble here. But, for this, it's not needed.
Your questions. My answers. The SOTU mailbag. Let's get to it:
@TheStateOfTheU Do you see us getting another DT (Joseph Wicker) & any LBs Ben Humphrey, Quarte Sapp, Tevon Cooney, Dominic Sheppard?— Andrew Vasquez (@A_Vasquez17) April 30, 2014
Yes, there will be another DT(s) in this class. We're still not stacked with talent at this position, so yes, there will probably be multiple players coming in at this position joining recent commit Quentez Johnson. Joseph Wicker is a name out there. Kahlil McKenzie (whom Johnson has been openly recruiting on Twitter) is another. If you're trying to get a read on where the DTs in this class will come from, here's a quick answer: somewhere other than South Florida. The talent at that position is down DRASTICALLY in the South Florida area as compared to 2014, so the staff has to look elsewhere.
As far as Linebackers go, Tevon Coney is the dream....but probably a tough pull away from Florida. The Palm Beach Post did a nice Q and A with him for their big board reveal (which has him as the #1 player in Palm Beach County for this class). Ben Humphreys would probably be a tough pull out of California. And, he has an offer at WR from Arizona State. So, if he decides his heart is on offense, they probably have the leg up. Dominic Sheppard is probably a top candidate from the South Florida area, with another LB sure to emerge throughout this cycle. Georgia LB Quarte Sapp, who took an unofficial for the Spring Game, could be that guy.
If I had to say right now, I'd say at LB it would be Sheppard and (insert 2nd player here) to fill out this class with current commit Charles Perry. As for DT, I know better than to hazard a guess at that position. But, again, there will be multiple additions at this position.
Q: With James Kelly transferring, do you think Omar Sherman or Ivan Cruz-Uceda starts from day one? Which one is most likely? - from Sam Jacobs (email)
When thinking about "who's gonna start??" for the 2014-15 Canes Hoops team, before you get to these guys, you have to really consider 2 things:
- How much will Tonye Jekiri have improved by the start of next season?
- Is this team better as a 3 guard-2 post team or a 4 guard-1 post team?
Q: Any updates on possible big men transfers we're looking to bring in? Late recruits? ANYTHING?! - Kevin (email)
As you mentioned in the unabridged version of this question: Larrañaga and the staff were high on M.J. Rhett and Anthony Lee, but both decided to take their talents elsewhere. And, losing James Kelly to transfer (a move which seems best for all involved parties) also thins out the front court depth slightly. As such, the aforementioned Ivan Cruz-Uceda and Omar Sherman will need to play some serious minutes this coming season.
Are there transfers to be potentially had? Of course. According to this list compiled by ESPN's Jeff Goodman, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 425 players who are transferring. Obviously, we would prefer an immediately eligible big man, but could take another transfer who had to sit out a year if he was good enough.
Overall, I like the 4 man class of Jaquan Newton, Cruz-Uceda, Sherman, and James Palmer. But, if the right fit were still available in the class of 2014, I think we would take them. Now, as to who that could be, I'm not sure. But, I know that the staff is looking actively to bring it at least 1 more player before next season.
LATE EDIT: according to our own blog manager Jerry Steinberg in the comments below, Miami will shortly be hosting JUCO big man Keith Thomas on a visit in the near future. He could fill the scholarship slot opened by Kelly's departure.
@UnderwoodSports what do you expect out of Jermaine Grace this season?— Matt (@canes76006) April 30, 2014
I think Grace has a chance to be a very good player on this defense. While he'll never be the biggest guy at his position, he's added some size which has helped him be a factor in defending the run. I said when he signed that he immediately became the best coverage LB on the team, and nothing I've seen has changed that opinion.
If he's able to follow his assignments (something that he wasn't able to do early on in his freshman season) and continue to defend the run at least adequately, he'll find himself on the field for more situations than just 3rd downs. A solid season, with maybe flashes of his HS production are a good bet. Anything above that would be a welcomed bonus.
@TheStateOfTheU Most improved position this year? In your opinion— RJ (@juiceman2589) April 30, 2014
Wide Receivers and it's not even close.
Yes, I know this is a dependent position (i.e. they can only be productive if the offensive line protects the QB, and the QB executes his passes appropriate), but the development of Stacy Coley (the best player at this position and ARGUABLY the best player on the team drew rave reviews from his teammates and coaches alike), Herb Waters, D'Mauri Jones, Rashawn Scott, and the amazing resurgence of Malcolm Lewis after 2 injury plagued years has this position stacked with talent. Oh, and I didn't even mention Philip Dorsett in that. Or the incoming freshmen.
Yeah, without a doubt in my mind, the Wide Receivers are far and away the most improved position group after spring practice.
Interesting follow up to the previous question. Obviously, everybody is acutely aware of the situation at Quarterback, and there are more words devoted to the Defense and it's performance on the internet than one could care to read. So I'll turn my attention elsewhere for this one.
Last year, we had Pat O'Donnell aka Ivan Drago aka the best punter in America transfer in and become a weapon at that position. He was so good, in fact, that he won Special Teams MVP for the year.
Now, Matt Goudis and Ricky Carroll are battling for this position. Both were extremely underwhelming in the Spring, and the position is still up for grabs. Another 5th year player from Florida, Justin Vogel, is rumored to be transferring to Miami at the conclusion of this semester. He has a big leg and could come in and win the job. While that would still be a downgrade from O'Donnell, he would still be an upgrade from what we saw from this position to this point of the offseason.
That's it for the mailbag. Until next time.