With the 2017 cycle over, it's time to look at the guys who will make an impact as 'Canes this fall. The following names however, are ones that you've likely heard before if you follow recruiting or are familiar with the roster. Due to unfortunate circumstances they were unable to play in 2016. So while the fresh faces of true froshes (and a JUCO) enter with much fanfare, let's not forget about those guys that have been rehabbing and working out their own to contribute this season as well.
Before Harley and Thomas became the talk of the position, before Ahmmon Richards perched himself atop the depth chart, before Sam Bruce was unceremoniously shown the door, Lawrence Cager was expected to get some run at a position that at the time was void of playmaking depth. Flash forward a year later after rehabbing a torn right ACL for the entirety of 2016, Cager will once again search to find his place on the depth chart gradually increasing his confidence in return to game action. The 6-foot-5 receiver is a huge target for Miami's QB alongside the newest Njoku on campus (Evidence is 6-foot-6) giving whoever starts at quarterback the opportunity to throw the jump ball in the right occasion.
Cager showed promise his freshman season contributing mainly on special teams before earning snaps on offense towards the conclusion of the season. While his 7o yards receiving on 8 catches for a TD pale in comparison to what Ahmmon posted last season, it's not hard to imagine that Cager would've been a excellent compliment to Richards in his frosh season. That was not to be. Cager's return to the lineup has more questions this season than it did at the start of last.
Can he continue be the same player or better than he was before the injury? Will he start the season on limited snap counts? Most importantly, where does he lineup now that Miami has gotten more depth and playmaking potential at the position?
Some of those answers will come during the spring, the rest will have to wait until summer's end.
The 'Canes front-seven is absolutely loaded. Gone are the days of having to swap players around out of necessity, now is the time of the strongest (and wisest) getting the most PT. A common trend among this group is 'what could've been'. Having redshirted his first season, Scott Patchan was poised for a bigger role on the defensive line during the spring.
Sadly, a devastating injury knocked him out for the spring and much of the early portion of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee. It's the second time in less than 3 years the Patchan would rehab from an ACL tear to the exact same area after having done so his senior year at IMG Academy.
A legacy 'Cane by trade considering that his father, Matt Patchan, anchored down the left tackle spot for Miami from the mid-to-late 80's, a younger Patchan sounds ready to compete for a spot once again this spring. While he was active against FSU, he did not register a stat, but still was able to get a taste of game action. It's a true testament to how deep the 'Canes edge-rushers have become with given how a former four-star prospect is fighting for scraps from the table. This upcoming season, Patchan will look for a larger portion on his plate in 2017.
Trayone "Choc" Gray
A fan favourite upon his arrival, Choc has been in waiting to take a substantial role in the offense for a while now. Most of his carries have come with big leads against early season opponents with a few spot carries against ACC opponents. A big back in stature 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Gray is incredibly nimble and quick.
Miami unfortunately did not get the Choc experience in 2016 after the back went down with a 'significant' knee injury. While he's pegged to return in time for the 2017 season, there is no firm timetable to when he will return to game action with no guarantees that he plays this spring. However, there is plenty of opportunity to be had at running back behind Mark Walton after the departures of Joseph Yearby (draft) and Gus Edwards (transfer).
Choc will compete with Travis Homer, and Robert Burns and perhaps a transfer for volume next season.
Three-star linebacker Jamie Gordinier made it through the spring unscathed. Yet, in week one against Florida A&M the Monmouth Beach, N.J. native got scooped up by the season-ending monster with a knee injury. Having redshirted his freshman year, Gordinier will look to stay healthy for a longer period. He'll likely serves as a reserve linebacker and special teams contributor behind the now sophomore trio of starters at the position and not including the incoming freshmen.
Odogwu differs from the other names that populate this group in that he played in more games than every single guy previously mentioned last season combined. However, he did go down during the war against FSU, subsequently missing the remainder of the season with an ankle issue. At 6-foot- 8, 325-pounds, Odogwu is an established presence at right tackle for the offense. In his place Tyree St. Louis took over the position drawing mixed reviews about his quality of play.
Expected to be a full go in the spring, the offensive line receives an immediate boost in the return of the Nigerian native. However, for those of the fan base looking to see the new 'Canes push for a role, Navaughn Donaldson is expected to start his career as a right tackle, which will have him breathing down the neck of the incumbent Odogwu.