As we continue our SOTU preseason coverage, we take a look at the unit that can often make or break the season for a team, the "big uglies."
No matter how good you are at QB, or the skill positions, you need these guys up front to make it all work.
What Miami lost:
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Shane McDermott||C||36||2014 1st All-ACC|
|Ereck Flowers||LT||30||2014 2nd All-ACC|
|Danny Isidora||LG||6'4, 322||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8861||13|
|Nick Linder||C||6'3, 300||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8378||4|
|Trevor Darling||LT||6'5, 318||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9541||1|
|Hunter Wells||RG||6'6, 316||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7917||0|
|Alex Gall||C||6'5, 310||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8489||0|
|KC McDermott||LT||6'6, 315||So.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9764||0|
|Hunter Knighton||C||6'6, 300||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8473||0|
|Sunny Odogwu||RT||6'8, 322||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8500||0|
|Joe Brown||LG||6'4, 331||RSFr.||NR||NR|
|Jahair Jones||RT||6'4, 327||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8614|
|Tyler Grimsley||RG||6'3, 300||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||NR|
|Bar Milo||OL||6'6, 285||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9107|
|Tyree St. Louis||OL||6'5, 315||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8984|
|Brendan Loftus||OL||6'6, 300||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8518|
|Hayden Mahoney||OL||6'5, 290||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8494|
Coach Kehoe has his work cut out for him
Miami has to replace an NFL first rounder, two potential pro reserves, and a combined 112 starts of experience with Flowers, McDermott, and Feliciano departed.
They also lost Taylor Gadbois, who has 9 career starts, when the coaches decided he was not part of what they wanted to build.
Those are some "big" shoes to fill.
But the cupboard isn't completely bare. The 'Canes have highly touted players like Kc McDermott (5 star recruit in some services) and Trevor Darling (4 stars across the board) back, and both gained invaluable experience last season as true freshmen.
Nick Linder did not come to UM with the same hype, but at times last year he graded out as good as any player up front for the 'Canes.
Danny Isidora was also solid last season as a sophomore.
And among newcomers Jahair Jones (JUCO), and in particular freshman Tyree St. Louis and Bar Milo, they have plenty of talent incoming.
But this will be the greenest the unit has been in some time.
Legendary O line Coach Art Kehoe will have lots of teaching to do, and could be the busiest and most important man on the coaching staff come fall camp.
LT Kc McDermott - Before an injury ended his freshman campaign early, was okay but not spectacular. But the 6'6 315 pound sophomore has the pedigree, size, and talent to be complete stud. Could experience some growing pains at the most demanding position on the offensive line. But once he gets his bearings, could be dominant. UM needs him to grow up quickly though.
LG Danny Isidora - Isidora is a road grader as a run blocker, but also steady in pass protection. The junior to be is the most known quantity on the unit. He could be moved over to the right side, if Miami wants more experience on that end. But given that McDermott will have a lot of demands at LT, I am going to project the 'Canes most experienced OL to the left side.
C Nick Linder - Linder was at times spectacular filling in at G as a true freshman (particularly the VT game). He is strong enough to push his man off the ball, but is especially impressive athletically in getting out to the second level. He'll have to be smart this year as well, as the center position involves handling the line calls and is the most mentally demanding spot in the group. I have a feeling he will be up to it.
RG Trevor Darling - Darling also got some work as a true frosh last year, and did not appear a bit overwhelmed. He could eventually take over at RT (or even LT) but for now his massive power and raw skill set could keep him on the inside.
RT Jahair Jones - Last season before getting hurt, Gadbois brought a nasty streak to the RT position. If you watch Jones' JUCO film, he plays with the same bad intentions, and may be even a better athlete than Gadbois. I really like his potential. But you never know how junior college players will adjust when moving up to major D1, regardless of position. So he is a bit of a question mark.
C Hunter Knighton - Knighton has been through a lot in his UM career. It's amazing he has made it back this far. He's a solid option behind Linder if needed.
C/G Hunter Wells - Wells has played a lot of ST and gotten a few cups of coffee as a reserve. He'll add depth, but is not going to wow anyone if he sees major PT.
T Sunny Odogwu - Odogwu has been awful in limited snaps during his 'Canes career. He has upside because of his size and athleticism, but his presence on the field often causes Miami fans to hold their collective breathe.
G Alex Gall - Gall has also seen time on ST and has been solid if not spectacular when playing on offense. His is probably the top reserve at the G spot.
G Joe Brown - Brown is a converted DL who remains a project. Has made strides in practice, but remains a total unknown in game action.
T/G Bar Milo - Milo protected Brad Kaaya's backside in H.S. and looks like a sleeper of a prospect. Hard to project how ready he will be in his first year.
T/G Tyree St. Louis - Probably the most physically ready of any of Miami's freshman O lineman prospects. Very similar to Darling. I would not be shocked to see him get game action early in his career.
Other names to know: Brendan Loftus (likely RS), Hayden Mahoney (likely RS).
There is enough talent for this unit to be good this year, and great in a year or two.
McDermott has little room for error though, and Jones needs to adjust to the speed of major College Football quickly.
And depth is a big concern.
But Linder has the look of a big time player, and Isidora is very, very solid.
The success of this unit will hinge on the play of the bookends.
There maybe some bumps in the road early on, but I expect Kehoe will have this unit cohesive and solid a few games in.
They absolutely must stay healthy though.