First year Miami coach Mark Richt had an eventful summer. From donating $1 million dollars to help construct an indoor practice facility, to kicking off his inaugural Paradise Camp, the 56-year-old head coach has built quite a buzz around the Hurricanes football program.
Today, Aug. 4, 2016, marks the beginning of new standard. Miami fans have erased the blunders of the Al Golden era from their memories (or at least have tried to ... I still can't believe he missed on Jerry Jeudy). It's an exciting time to be a Miami fan, but that excitement can only be validated with wins.
So what should fans look forward to going into the 2016 fall camp? Let's break it down
Oh, what a beautiful sight. pic.twitter.com/KGo31lnG6Q— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) August 4, 2016
Offensive Line Rotation
Miami.247sports.com reported that Mark Richt is looking to rotate seven players on the offensive line. Last season, the Hurricanes o-line was considered to be one of the younger units out there, but now it features some seasoned players. Injuries also plagued the offensive line.
One of those guys is junior Trevor Darling. Last season he made the move from right tackle to left tackle, where he started 13 games (he's currently started 18 consecutive games since his sophomore season). At 6-4, 320 he's an athletic tackle with a long reach. It's good to see that he can stay healthy at such a physical position.
Last season, Nick Linder started all 13 games at center. The 6-foot-3, 305 pound mauler will look to mimic that consistency this season. In 2015, Danny Isidora was featured at right guard for the Canes, and he proved his value. He was a coaches All-ACC honorable mention. At 6-8, 325 gigantic tackle, Sonny Odogwu, will find himself in the mix, along with names like Kc McDermott, Alex Gall, and Tyree St. Louis.
Richt's stated that he has target weights and body fat percentage goals for the linemen, in order to keep them athletic and mobile, but still devastatingly strong.
Superstar Starter...Who's The Backup?
No secret here: Brad Kaaya is good...really good. But where do the Canes go as far as naming a backup quarterback to the junior stud? Malik Rosier, a redshirt sophomore, had a dominant performance when he started against Duke as Kaaya tended to an injury. But, his spring ball hasn't been the best. He left baseball to solely focus on football in the spring. He may have shined under Golden, but it's Richt's regime now.
One guy who has stood out is Evan Shirreffs, a 6-foot-6 gunslinger from Jefferson, Ga. Although he was only rated a three-star prospect in high school, he shined at the Georgia vs. Florida All-Star game, where he won MVP. Shirreffs has used a redshirt year to develop his game. He seems to be the hot name going into camp. If it makes any difference to Canes fans, he was his high school's valedictorian, so he's pretty sharp on and off the field. The combination of his size, smarts and footwork have propelled him as the leader to backup Kaaya.
Look for freshman Jack Allison to most likely take a redshirt year. Let's not give Shirreffs the title of backup just yet, but we can assume that he'll be the No. 2 guy come game day.
Who's covering who?
Cornerback depth has been an area of concern for the Canes. Early on in the summer I reported that Alabama CB Maurice Smith, was interested in joining the Hurricanes secondary as a graduate transfer. Looks like he's got bigger fish to fry with head coach Nick Saban.
But, let's forget about Smith and worry about what there is to work with. Corn Elder will be the leader for the corners. A lot of young faces will get the chance to make a name for themselves, like Michael Jackson, Sheldrick Redwine,Terrance Henley and Malek Young. Young is a true freshman, and former three-star corner from Pompano Beach, Fla.
Who Separates Themselves From The RB Trio?
Will there really be a "leader" in the talented trio of Yearby, Walton and Edwards. Here at SOTU, we've covered all three guys, with myself personally writing a piece on Edwards. I stated that I think Edwards is a dynamic, big back, who obviously will shine in short yardage situations. If I had to predict a leader, I'm picking Walton. I think he's the most dynamic of all three players.
But what about the other new guys? As I stated before, Jack Allison will most likely take a redshirt year. Safety Romeo Finley is an ambitious freshman, who hopes to see the field. As our own Jerry Steinberg noted, he may not see the field at safety much with guys like Jaquan Johnson, Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter out there, but he can shine on special teams.
Four-star running back, Travis Homer, is a great all-purpose back, but he'll most likely redshirt with the depth at RB. Jacob Munoz, a highly touted long snapper is an interesting name to pay attention to. He trained at with long snapping coach, Chris Rubio, who is regarded as one of the best coaches in the nation. Ahmon Richards is another guy who could be a significant playmaker at wide receiver. Some other notable freshman: WR Sam Bruce, TE Jovani Haskins, DE Joe Jackson, DE Patrick Bethel
Braxton Berrios has been a guy who's been slated to have a breakout year. He's shown signs of his talent as a pure athlete. After a dominant spring game, many are looking for Braxton to produce some solid numbers this year.
Eye on the prize... pic.twitter.com/EXOpcXE9oE— Braxton Berrios (@HNYNUT_BERRIOS) April 11, 2016
There are a lot of new faces in Coral Gables this season. When it comes to Mark Richt, wins will be the main focus and the Miami/FSU game will be the litmus test. Every single recruit I spoke to this summer said their eyes will be on that game.
Manny Diaz makes his return home, and with it he brings his 4-3 defense, built around speed and pressure. He also brought new safeties coach Efraim Banda with him.Banda served as a defense assistant to Diaz at Mississippi State. They're implementing a system that actually offers a course on offense to the defense.
Ron Dugans will try to mentor a young wide receiver unit, while Thomas Brown will work with running backs and offensive play calling, which he will study under Mark Richt.
As for offensive and defensive lines, coach Kuligowski has already made an impact, earning the title of "coach Kool". Stacy Searels comes in and takes over a unit with some veteran leadership, with the main goal of opening up major holes for the running back trio and protecting Brad Kaaya.
Mike Rumph will lead the corner back group, and hopefully make the most of the group. Jon Richt, Mark Richt's son, will develop the quarterbacks, while Todd Hartley monitors special teams and tight ends.
I already discussed the importance of the Canes preparing for their showdown with FSU. It will be a major recruiting battleground game. Outside of that, Miami needs to keep Devonta Smith in good standing. The four-star receiver from Louisiana is announcing his decision Aug. 15. He has UM in his top three (along with Alabama and LSU).
Outside of Smith, there is still a possibility, a very small one, of flipping Alabama commit Jerry Jeudy to Miami. A lot of other four and five star talents have the Canes high on their radars. A nine-plus win season will lock Miami in with a top 10 class, possibly top five.
It's been a great summer to cover Hurricanes football. The recruiting trail was hot, the hype was real and fans have been passionate. It makes our jobs easier with your support. Fall camp is finally here, and the content will only keep getting better. I'd love to hear your predictions on the season. How will the Hurricanes fare in their first season under Mark Richt. Looking at the schedule, nine wins is a more than attainable goal, while 10 wins is certainly not out of the question.
I'll end it short and sweet: This year it will be all about The U.