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Three 2017 Redshirts Who Could Surprise in 2018

These players didn’t get to make an impact last season but might be this year’s breakout star

Russell Athletic Bowl - Miami v West Virginia Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Every season, project players and guys who find themselves buried on the depth chart as freshmen wind up redshirting for their first years on campus. This allows them to not burn up any eligibility while also improving their skills and being able to compete the following season and beyond. In 2018, Miami has a few intriguing redshirts who could find themselves playing important roles for a team that is expected to be among the best in the nation.

1. N’Kosi Perry, QB

Unless Malik Rosier shows substantial improvement from his 2017 season, Perry is going to be a topic of conversation all season long. Perry was the quarterback that Mark Richt wanted most from the 2017 recruiting class and indeed got him locked up. Now the question is if Perry is ready to surpass Rosier at some point during the season. Perry has the physical tools to be a great QB but is still raw when it comes to successfully running offensive schemes and reading defenses. His performance in the spring game didn’t quite stand out enough for Richt to hand him the keys this early and it will likely take more inconsistent play from the starter for Perry to find the field. However, if he does get on the field, he might be the Canes’ starting QB for the foreseeable future.

2. Cade Weldon, QB

Often left out of the discussion over who would be the next man up should Rosier falter, Weldon has more experience than someone like Jarren Williams but less pure talent than Perry. His arrival at Miami wasn’t quite as exciting as those latter two QBs but Weldon could very well push his way up the depth chart if he looks more game-ready than the others. Weldon was a 3-star pro passer in 2017 and picked the Canes over schools like South Carolina and Kentucky. Weldon also has personal ties to Richt, as his father Casey Weldon was coached by Richt at FSU. However, if he wants to compete for the starting role he will need to prove that the turnover issues he had in high school have been reduced considerably.

3. Zalon’tae Hillery, OT

A 3-star recruit who picked Miami over powerhouses like Alabama, Clemson and that team in Gainesville, Hillery has a very good opportunity to prove himself among an unproven group of offensive lineman. A towering force at 6’6” and 304 pounds, Hillery figures to stick at right tackle, a spot that LSU transfer George Brown Jr. currently possesses. Brown also lacks experience and could be yanked early on if he can’t keep his quarterback upright. Don’t be surprised if the coaches give Hillery an opportunity and decide to go with his high-upside potential over Brown.