UM's offense is going to miss players like Duke Johnson, Clive Walford, and Phillip Dorsett for sure.
But was there a more irreplaceable player on the roster in 2014 than LB Denzel Perryman?
The first team ALL-ACC, Butkus Award Finalist, was also an Honorable Mention All-American, and put together a spectacular season with 110 stops, 9.5 TFL, and 2 sacks.
And numbers only touch the surface on what DP meant to Miami's oft maligned defense.
So how will the 'Canes manage with out "El Presidente?"
Let's take a look at their options.
#1 Raphael Kirby Sr. - The 6'1 238 pound Kirby finally lived up to his elite potential with 58 stops, 4.5 TFL. and 2 INT in 2014. But can he make the successful transition from OLB to ILB? Kirby has the size and physical abilities to handle the task. One would think UM's coaches would prefer to keep him on the outside, unless this move becomes a necessity.
#2 Jermaine Grace Jr. - Grace was a disruptive force last season with 60 tackles, 6.5 TFL, and 3 sacks. But at 6'1 212 his size does not bode well for a ILB in the current scheme. Maybe if Miami switched to a 4-3 and Grace became a Rohan Marley type? Long shot at best.
#3 Juwon Young So. - One has to wonder why Miami played Young so little after burning his RS. Nonetheless Young has the body at 6'2 226 hold up on the inside. He is talented but raw right now. If he learns where he needs to be quickly enough, he could steal a starting spot at ILB nonetheless. He's got the mean streak you look for in the position.
#4 Darrion Owens So. - Owens also has the size at 6'3 235 to play inside, and he has a little more experience than Young, having accumulated 23 tackles as a true freshman in 14'. Owens has a ways to go though before being the defensive leader on this squad. He is more likely a Thurston Armbrister type down the line.
Other possibilities - Walter Tucker Jr. (probably too valuable on offense as a lead blocker). Terry McCray So. (another big bodied LB but not a spectacular athlete, more a depth guy).
2015 Verbal Recruits:
Charles Perry - The 6'2 200 pound Perry has room to grow, but is a natural ILB. We like his potential down the line but it is a little soon to pencil him in for any immediate impact.
Jamie Gordiner - The Red Bank NJ H.S. product (Al Golden's home town) is a monster at 6'4 235, but he looks more comfortable on the outside, perhaps even growing into a DE at some point.
Mohamed Barry - (didn't happen)
Summary: Replacing Perryman is a serious concern for this team. LB depth is no where near where the staff would like it to be. And the defense, despite statistical improvements, was far from stellar last season. And that was with DP52. If I had to guess, I'd say Young likely takes off and runs with this position. There could be a surprise or two depending on how spring and fall camps go, but my guess is Juwon Young steps in does what he can to fill the impossible to fill shoes of Perryman.
Stay tuned for more updates between now and NSD and beyond as we preview the 2015 Miami Hurricanes.