Easter Sunday has different meanings to various groups of people. One segment views it as a day of mourning and remembrance. For others, it has significant religious importance. Then there are those who are observe the day for the bounty of treats the Easter Bunny leaves for the young and young at heart. It appears that the Easter Bunny hopped over to Coral Gables recently to drop off some eggs. Those of you who are familiar with the NCAA football franchise, here are some players that have the chance to be gems in the fall. If you peek behind a bush or palm tree around the Greentree practice field, you will find some eggs that have all the preservatives to be as delicious come September as they are in April.
Egg #1 QB
The QB is the first egg that stands out among the grass and field turf. Mark Richt is hosting a QB audition to fill the starring role on the team after Brad Kaaya left to fulfill his NFL aspirations. A set-in-stone starter will not be named until some time after summer camp commences; however, there are front-runners (Malik Rosier, Evan Shirreffs) who are leading the pack early in spring practices and scrimmage.
Soon-to-be freshman quarterback N'kosi Perry has yet to be an official University of Miami student, opting to enjoy his senior year of high school. Perry has a chance to come in and make an impact on the offense by providing the athleticism to avoid tacklers at the line of scrimmage, using his legs to keep plays alive, and create big play opportunities down the field, the likes of which Miami has not seen in quite a while. He'll enter summer camp trying to catch up with those players previously mentioned, as well as fellow competitors Cade Weldon, Vincent Testaverde and Jack Allison. The best man for the job will obviously win the competition, but based on his athleticism, would you complain if there was a package of plays put in place to utilize Perry's talent?
Egg #2 RB
You should find the egg that is Trayone Gray buried beneath some soil and earth. It has a slight hairline crack on the surface, yet it is still a good egg when all is said and done. With the depth at running back being so shallow, the back better known as "Choc" remains alive in the competition to back Mark Walton. While Gray has been at practices, he has been limited to working out in non-contact drills. Travis Homer is believed to be leading in the race for the number two back at the moment. Even if Homer does secure that position, it would still be beneficial to have that much quality depth, given the departure of Joseph Yearby and Gus Edwards months ago from the RB meeting room. While Miami used three backs a game last season , RB coach Thomas Brown did allude to the possibility that they could roll with the same amount or give carries to just two backs next season.
Standing tall at six-foot-two and 235 pounds, Gray can be that thumper in short-yardage downs, with enough of a wiggle to shake off tackles. After missing all of 2016, can he return without worrying about re-injuring his torn ACL? Let’s hope so, because Miami could use the depth entering summer camp.
Egg #3 WR
Coach Dugans and the rest of the Miami faithful are searching for a wide receiver to compliment Ahmmon Richards in his sophomore year. With Stacy Coley and Malcolm Lewis having both moved on after last season, Lawrence Cager still mending and the incoming freshmen Jeff Thomas, Evidence Njoku, and Mike Harley enjoying their senior year of high school, someone needs to step up in the meantime. A prime candidate for an uptick of snaps on offense this fall is Dionte Mullins. 2016 was a learning process for the highly touted receiver out of Gulliver Prep. In fact, Mullins registered more tackles (one) than receptions (zero) in the three games that he was active. He’s a player best known for his highlight-reel catch for Team Highlight in the 2016 Under Armour All-America game. Admittedly, Mullins felt he was playing catch-up for most of his first year. Now, he is poised to get ahead of the curve by working on his route running and consistency in year two.
Egg #4 TE
Michael Irvin II
While we're all proud of what will be in store for David Njoku next week, the Hurricanes continue on their own mission toward glory. Christopher Herndon IV is pegged to be the next in line at “TE U,” yet it's unclear who the next man up will be behind him. Herndon is still planned to be moved around the offense to capitalize on his versatility. Garnering praise from TE coach Todd Hartley for his intelligence and ability to pick up the game quickly, Michael Irvin II is jockeying to be featured alongside Herndon in the TE battle involving Brian Polendey, Malik Curry and Jovani Haskins. Primarily a special teams contributor in his first year, Irvin II will look to earn quality snaps on offense in the near future.
Egg #5 DL
Hidden somewhere behind the now-sophomore trio of linebackers and obscured by tremendous talent atop the depth chart, Pat Bethel spent last season acclimating to the college game, along with finding his role in a defense that brims with talent in the front seven. A strong-side defensive end in his days at Vero Beach, Bethel got kicked inside to bring pressure up the middle. With a season under his belt, and entering his second season as a legacy Cane (his father, Randy Bethel, is a Hurricane from the 1987 class), Bethel will look to make more of an impact. In an effort to have the mass to bend offensive linemen back toward the pocket, Bethel is said to be around the 275 pound mark after playing at around 240 lbs as a freshman. And there’s still time to add some more pounds before the season.
Egg #6 LB
It must be difficult to be a Hurricane linebacker if your surname is not Quarterman, Pickney or McCloud. While the trio deserve the attention and accolades from their impressive debut season, there are other solid options behind them that should be quality contributors. Having battled back from a knee injury, Owens appears to be a full go, trusting his knee and instincts. His work in the off-season earned him an early spot atop the depth chart, with his hard work translating from the gym to the field this spring. It'll still be a tall task to usurp one of the LB triplets, but Owens at the very least has assured that there will be quality depth at the second level of the 'Canes defense.
Egg #7 Secondary
With both safeties and the number-one cornerback heading to the pros, who will be Miami's top secondary is the second most important question after the one about who will be the starting QB this fall. While the Hurricanes picked up a gem in grad transfer Dee Delaney, who should arrive on campus after he graduates from The Citadel in May, a name that has recently sprung up in conversation regarding defensive backs is CB Michael Jackson. A true junior entering the 2017 season, Jackson has the appearance of a NFL corner. His seven tackles and one pass breakup don't scream breakout candidate, yet the opportunity is there for him to grab a spot in the rotation after playing in 12 games last season. Jackson has said to have been battling hard in practices, making a strong impression early in the spring. Defensive back coach Mike Rumph highlighted Jackson as being the player who has gotten his hands on the most balls early this spring as well as held up well in man coverage. He’s a solid tackler, especially compared to where he was last season.