Legacy. Every single player, personnel, and coach that walks through a given program, be it Miami or not, strives to leave a long-lasting positive image of themselves before their collegiate career is up. Goals vary from class-to-class as well as over different generations.
For this group of 'Canes seniors the 2017-'18 campaign represents the potential to bring the program back to heights that many have prognosticated since before they committed to The U.
Seniors in 2017-’18
Christopher Herndon IV
Going over this crop of seniors (you can add some RS juniors if you'd like, I did not) you're left with an intriguing spectrum of players whom stepped onto campus with expectations, yielding various results. And yet after (at least) 3 seasons of service the narrative has yet to reach a conclusion for all who are listed.
Braxton Berrios has flashed numerous times during his career, but has not sustained a complete seasons' worth of production to be considered a viable threat in the passing game.
Recently departed tight end, David Njoku, left to be next in the illustrious lineage of great Miami TEs to make a significant impact on in pro football. Now is the time for Christopher Herndon IV to feed as “The Guy” as the position after being the 1B to Njoku's 1A a season ago.
As for Michael Badgley, he's simply just money. An 80.8% field goal percentage having missed 5 kicks last season, it's a luxury to have a kicker that you trust to do their job throughout the game, especially when you need a FG in the clutch.
While both of the defensive lineman in this group entered with much fanfare Chad Thomas (5*), Trent Harris (4*), the expectations for both differed substantially. Harris has established himself as an excellent role player in the defense, a jack-of-all trades and master of none. Harris gets the job down in a fashion that endears his game to a coaching staff that preaches fundamentals. A trait that is not all that sexy to entire spectrum of a fanbase, but gets the job done in an efficient manner. Chad on the other end of the comparison, is the multi-talented player that oozes cool with ease, given the benefit of the doubt when his game took time to develop based on personal growth. With stunting of said growth substantially attributed to by some guy in Houston.
The offensive line stumbled during a coaching staff transition, plugging in various combinations to find a unit that worked. When it finally did, injuries caused setbacks in cementing a foundation along an integral portion of the offense. With that said, among the starting 5 on the O-Line it not unreasonable to project that 3 of the 5 starters could be seniors.
‘Canes Senior Table
|Year||Win-Loss (4 seasons)||FSU||Bowl (W/L)|
|Year||Win-Loss (4 seasons)||FSU||Bowl (W/L)|
|2016||32-20||NO||Russell Athletic Bowl (W)|
|2015||30-21||"||Champs Sports Bowl (L)|
|2014||28-22||"||Sun Bowl (L)|
|2013||29-15||"||Russell Athletic Bowl (L)|
|2012||29-21||"||Independence Bowl (L)|
This group of 2017 seniors will look to build on the momentum and progress made by their 2016 predecessors, who were able to leave Miami on a winning note, punctiating the season with a Russell Athletic Bowl victory of West Virginia and quenching a decade long winless bowl drought. Assuming that they play as a true freshman, avoiding the redshirt, each senior class has at least 4 seasons in their pocket before senior day. While getting over the 30+ win threshold is an accomplishment to be praised, anyone would trade some of those wins for a single one over that team in Tallahassee. That goes without mentioning the as of yet unattainable task of winning the Coastal division (still hasn't been done) or making it to the ACC championship game.
When the season kicks-off at the end of summer this 2017-’18 group will enter their final year with a 23-16 win/loss resume. 7 wins would see them make 30 wins for their career at Miami. Yet, let’s assume that number won’t be enough for both them and those watching.
So, why bring this all up?
Expectations are running fairly high. That's a statement that is pretty common to every 'Canes football season on record, but it does stand to reason to be significant. 2016 was a great step in the right direction to regaining footing as a national contender. As Cam can attest “the block is hot” in the recruiting game, while the roster itself has depth and legitimate competition across many position groups as spring practices draw near. Of course, finding a new quarterback is integral in any success to be had this upcoming season. Some of the competitions at other positions may result in a few 2017 seniors trying to stay loose on the sideline as lesser experienced, yet more dynamic players get the nod ahead of them to start.
Regardless of whether they start, or come off the sideline it’s difficult to no to appreciate what this class has gone through to become seniors at Miami. They endured down times, a coaching transition, philosophical as well as systematic restructuring that go along with that change. Many of these guys were recruited by someone who no longer is employed by the university. They committed to the school, not a pitchman. Not quite sure if that makes them more mature, unselfish or loyal, but something should be said for that.
Leadership comes in different forms. Some let their play screaming and cuss for them than letting wind pass through their tongue. Others are expert linguistics that know what to say and when to encourage or get in the face of teammates that need a lift. It's not hard to look around to see how lack of leadership can impact teams and programs (One time for you Knick fans).
Perhaps it's not what the seniors do themselves, but what they're able to get from the rest of the team that comes to define them. Whether it's on senior day or before the bowl game, hearing underclassmen dedicating bowl games and championships for their “vet” or mentor both off and on the field for a season or more, showing them what it means to be a Miami Hurricane is a tremendous honour.
Talking about it is one thing, living it for four seasons is another.