Was their a more courageous performance by a Miami Hurricanes' player than the one given by Ereck Flowers Vs FSU on 11/15/14?
Just two weeks removed from surgery to clean up a balky knee, not only did he play against the Seminoles, he played lights out (QB Brad Kaaya was not sacked all night, largely in part due to Flowers' play).
But what else would you expect from a guy who was essentially a starter from the first day he stepped on campus?
The 6'6 322 pound LT is now on his way to the NFL, where many project he could go as high as the first round.
(More on Ereck below)
So how does Miami replace one of its' most talented and competitive warriors?
It won't be easy.
But OL is one of the few areas they at least have some depth and no dearth of depth.
#1 Kc McDermott So - The former 5 star recruit saw action in 4 games before an injury knocked him out for the season. Based on talent alone, he is the likely favorite to take the all important LT spot. In his limited action in 2014 he was good, if not great. McDermott needs a strong spring/fall camp to cement himself as UM's best option. He has the physical skills and mental approach to make it happen.
#2 Trevor Darling So - The 6'5 310 pound Darling is another massive and skilled option for the 'Canes. Darling who made several starts for the injury riddled UM offensive line as a true freshman, played both T/G, and held up pretty well. Whether he gets action at RT or protects Brad Kaaya's blind side, Darling figures to be a very important part of the Miami offensive line in 2015. Look for him to move exclusively to T this coming season.
#3 Taylor Gadbois Jr - Gadbois started out the season slow, but was a pleasant surprise at RT for the Hurricanes, before his season too was ended by injury against Duke. My guess is Gadbois remains on the right side in 2015. He plays with a real nasty streak, a great quality for an offensive linemen. He is not as gifted as the two players above, but if they falter he could take on the role as UM's best starting tackle.
#4 Nick Linder So - For along stretch, Linder was arguably the best offensive lineman on the team, outside of Flowers, last season. As a freshman he did his damage from the inside, but he showed the athleticism to perhaps play C or T as well. Go back and watch the Virginia Tech game again if you don't believe me. Linder was putting D lineman on the ground all night long, sometimes 5-10 yards down field. My guess is he lines up at G/C in 2015. But the abilities he showed this past year make anything a possibility.
Other possibilities - Danny Isidora Jr. (much more likely to play G), Sunny Odogwu So (needs massive improvement, still very raw).
2015 Verbal Recruits:
Bar Milo - Brad Kaaya's high school LT never visited another school outside of UM. So don't worry about him flipping. Word is, he is a fierce battler but needs to clean up his technique a little. Could end up on the inside if he isn't redshirted, but is a nice T prospect down the road.
Tyree St Louis - One of Miami's highest rated verbal commits is rumored to be taking a long look at FSU (sigh). if he makes to Coral Gables, he could play right away either on the inside or as a back-up at either T position.
Jahair Jones (JUCO) - Out of all the newcomers, could be the most ready for immediate action. Another "nasty" player who's very aggressive. Also had offers to Ohio State and Virginia Tech. Look for Jones to make an immediate impact and get into the mix in the tackle rotation.
Brendan Loftus - 6'7 270 pound prospect needs time to develop. Most likely a RS candidate.
Hayden Mahoney - Very similar to Loftus. Looks like a tough player on film, needs a lot of coaching though.
Tyler Gauthier - May be more game ready than Loftus or Mahoney, but looks more like a G/C than a tackle.
Summary: Players like Flowers Do not come along every class. He was talented, reliable, a quiet leader, and as tough as they come. Miami is going to miss him. Fortunately UM does have some talented returning players and a few newcomers who can contribute. I expect McDermott to get the nod for the season opener, but watch out for Jones to push him. Darling should also see reps at both T sports, with Gadbois likely earning the starting spot at RT. Whomever gets the job, it is imperative that they play well. However, living up to the standard Flowers left behind, will not be easy.
Stay tuned for more updates between now and NSD and beyond as we preview the 2015 Miami Hurricanes.