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Miami Hurricanes Football: Spring Position Switches

Can a few rearrangements increase the ’Canes productivity next season?

Georgia Tech v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With the idea that change is a certainty of life, there are many instances where our initial plans are amended. Sometimes they workout for the best; in some scenarios, not so much. Each season we get a few Hurricane football members who find themselves breaking the huddle only to run to a different position than the one that they were recruited out of high school to play. The changes can be subtle enough from switching sides along the line of scrimmage, having a different positional alignment to being tasked with memorizing new cadences—which at the start has the feel of taking another language class.

As the Hurricanes continue their preparations for the 2018 campaign, State of the U takes a look at some of the players who could be lining up in a different spot this upcoming season.

Scott Patchan

Scott Patchan’s return to the defensive side of the ball is not a significant change, yet the former four star prospect has been unable to catch at a single position during his UM career. In fact, Patchan returns to the defensive end room after making the move to TE in 2017. The ’Cane possessed excellent depth at DE a couple of seasons ago, which allowed Patchan to move to the offensive side of the ball where the depth at TE were not as daunting. Entering 2018 with TE now blossoming with talent and quality depth, Patchan returns to ply his skills at the family trade, playing on the line of scrimmage. With a father and brother who both played as offensive linemen in college, with the patriarchal Matt Patchan a member of two Miami championship teams (1983 & ‘87), the green and orange of the Hurricanes run s in the youngest Patchan’s blood.

Patchan is competing this spring to be an integral part of the defensive end rotation behind Demetrius Jackson and Joe Jackson, respectively. With six-foot-seven freshman Greg Rosseau needing time to acclimate to the college game in his first season, Patchan’s experience working with the defensive end group in the past should allow him to see the field.

Trayone “Choc” Gray

Returning from a torn ACL last season, running back Trayone “Choc” Gray made the transition from spectator in 2016 to contributor for the 2017 season. When RB Mark Walton went down for the season, Gray was used sparingly as the Hurricanes operated with minimal numbers at the tailback position. With the tough, hard-nosed runs of RB Travis Homer complimented by the electric runs of ATH DeeJay Dallas, Gray’s return to the field, as remarkable as it was, became an afterthought based on the play of guys above him on the depth chart along with the influx of talent from the Swag 17 class.

So when Coach Mark Richt announced that Gray would be working as fullback this spring, our ears perked up a bit. It was presumed that with FB Realus George signing his letter of intent to become a ’Cane on Signing Day that the job would be his by default. Especially considering that it was a year ago that Miami considered moving linebacker Mike Smith to moonlight as a fullback after the graduations of both Marquez Williams and Gage Batten. It appears that we could have a bonafide FB competition on our hands, with the six-foot-two, 235 pound Gray opening holes instead of running through them. A capable runner himself, when Gray enters the huddle there is no reason that why Miami could have their own version of a triple-option run threat, with a capable runner at RB, FB and QB that posses the vision and ability to pick up yardage between the tackles.

Romey Finley and Derrick Smith

Virginia Tech v Miami
Romeo Finley could have a bigger role in Miami’s defense as the Hurricanes try to combat some of the spread offenses they’ll see in 2018.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

For both Romeo Finley and Derrick Smith, juniors and sophomores respectively, they’re not only changing positions, but are vying for a new position in the Hurricanes offense. Finley has primarily contributed to special teams throughout his first two seasons. Smith received playing time here and there during his first season wearing the U on his helmet. Last week it was announced that the duo would be working as linebackers this offseason, a countermeasure by defensive coordinator Manny Diaz ahead of a 2018 season that will have Miami’s defense squaring off with some potential high-tempo spread formation offenses.

Figuring to be key in either nickel or dime situations, the change in position provides an opportunity of play time along with Miami being able to negate matchups that opposing offenses would exploit without the move.

Patrick Joyner

The incoming freshman is listed as a weakside defensive end by 247 Sports, yet is expected to start his UM career as a linebacker. Keep an eye on this situation, especially since Joyner does not arrive on campus for a couple more months.

As usual, let us know your thoughts in the comment section. Do you like the changes? Are there other players who you’d like to see make a positional switch?

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