The Miami Hurricanes start Spring Practice today!
— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) March 21, 2017
SPRING PRACTICE STARTS TODAY!!!!
Several people have talked about the things they’re looking at for Spring Practice, including our own Matt Washington, who wonders how ACC teams are going to fill voids left by star players who have moved on to the NFL:
Filling the Voids https://t.co/SbL0G11kNQ— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) March 12, 2017
and Kev Robins, who gave you his 3 Spring Storylines to watch:
3 Story Lines to Watch Going Into Spring https://t.co/Dv62685RqQ— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) March 8, 2017
So, with Spring Practice opening today, here are my 5 questions that I’m looking to have answered in the next couple of weeks.
QUESTION 1: Will a QB separate themselves from the pack?
EVERYBODY knows Miami has their first QB battle in years. With the departure of record-setting QB Brad Kaaya, who started all but 1 game in his collegiate career, Miami has a void to fill at a key position (word to Matt Washington).
Of the 6 contenders for the QB job — RS Fr Jack Allison, FR N’Kosi Perry, RS Jr Malik Rosier, RS So Evan Shirreffs, RS Jr Vincent Testaverde, and FR Cade Weldon — the only one who is not on campus yet is 2017 signee N’Kosi Perry. Fellow 2017 signee Cade Weldon is an Early Enrollee, and has been on campus since January.
While many, myself included, see Perry as the QB of the future, he’s not at Miami yet, and the other 5 guys are going to do all they can to win the job clean in Spring. Mark Richt has said that nobody clearly separated themselves as the QB-of-2017 last season, and he doesn’t expect to name a starting QB after spring ball. But that doesn’t mean that one of the 5 players currently on campus can’t make a big move in this battle.
My #1 question is whether one of those players is able to step up and really position themselves as the favorite going into fall, or if there will be the same level of uncertainty at QB when Spring Practice ends as when it starts.
QUESTION 2: Offensive Line
The key to any good offense, Miami’s Offensive Line has been less than stellar in recent years, which is putting it nicely.
With OL coach Stacy Searels and a bevvy of new and talented players, I’m interested to see how things shake out.
LSU transfer George Brown Jr. is eligible after sitting out 2016 and should be in the mix at Tackle. Early Enrollee Navaughn Donaldson was an Under Armour All-American and is a massive human being at 6’6” 355lbs. AT A MINIMUM, Donaldson should have a place in the 2-deep, if not starting outright. Also joining the team is fellow early enrollee Zach Dykstra, an interior lineman from Iowa.
Those 2 join returning lettermen Kc McDermott, Trevor Darling, Nick Linder, Tyree St. Louis, and Tyler Gauthier. OT Sunny Odogwu is coming back from injury and will be slowly integrated, but is unlikely to be a full-go during spring.
With improving numbers and increasing talent up front, Miami needs to find the best combination of players to pave the way for a run-based offense which will be led by a first time starting QB. Could guys like McDermott and Darling, who both have seen time at Tackle but profile better as Guards in my opinion, move inside due to others stepping up and taking those spots?
Will Tyree St. Louis finally harness his immense potential (he was a 4-star recruit, remember) and consistently dominate, not just show flashes?
Will Navaughn Donaldson step right in and steal a starting job (man, I hope so)?
Pretty much, everything involving the offensive line is what I’m interested in seeing. The potential is there. The talent is there. Now, the performance has to match up.
QUESTION 3: which Early Enrollees are ready to play now?
More and more, HS kids are graduating early so they can enroll at their chosen college in January and get the benefit of a semester in the weight room and on the practice field to gain extra preparation for their freshman season.
For Miami, there are 10 Early Enrollees who are doing this in 2017, and each will look to play right away this fall. Here’s the group for those wondering
- QB Cade Weldon
- RB Robert Burns
- WR/ATH DeeJay Dallas
- TE Brian Polendey
- OL Navaughn Donaldson
- OL Zach Dykstra
- DE Jonathan Garvin
- LB Bradley Jennings Jr
- LB Waynmon Steed
- S Amari Carter
Several players in this group — Donaldson, Garvin, and Carter — have the chance to play heavy snaps right away. But, that’s based on HS production and projection. Players have to make plays on the field. This spring, those 9 listed Early Enrollees will look to do just that. And, with the departure of several starting level players from the 2016 team, playing time is readily available for the youngsters ... if they prove themselves worthy.
QUESTION 4: Who’s going to take “The Leap” in 2017?
With the departure of starters like Brad Kaaya, and Stacy Coley, and David Njoku, and Corn Elder, and Jamal Carter, and Rayshawn Jenkins, and Danny Isidora, there are plenty of places where Miami needs a backup player to step into stardom.
Some players are stars from day 1, others take time to develop, but eventually make a BIG leap to a new level of performance.
Will Tyree St. Louis become the LT of the team that’s been lacking for years? Will Travis Homer step up to be a RB1a behind Mark Walton? Will Dionte Mullins start flashing the talent that made him an All-American in HS? Will Malek Young vault to the top of the CB group? Will another player become a clear starter that has been lightly used previously?
Somebody is going to have to step up to fill all the aforementioned spots...or we’re going to see A LOT of freshmen, early enrollee and regular enrollee alike, get lots of playing time this season. Which, when you think about it, wouldn’t be the worst thing ever, given the recent performance of freshman starters at Miami.
QUESTION 5: NO INJURIES!!!!!
Not so much a question as a statement:
NO INJURIES IN SPRING PRACTICE!!!!
Last year, Miami was relatively healthy through spring, with only minor bumps and bruises. With many players still recovering from their previously-sustained injuries (Sunny Odogwu, Lawrence Cager, Trayone Gray, and others), it would best serve Miami, and the individual players, to not have any injuries in the spring.
So, please, PLEASE,
Those are my questions. What are yours? LEt me know in the comments section below.