The Canes opened up practice on Saturday, allowing us to analyze the first depth chart of fall camp. There will be changes of course, but this first edition holds some surprises, and indications.
Being ranked No. 8 in the preseason Amway Coaches’ Poll, the expectations are higher than ever for the players, and staff. Younger players know that their impact can make a drastic difference, while veterans know that their leadership has unparalleled importance.
Fall camp gives players a chance to surge to the top of the death chart, or disappear until their name is called during the season. It’s assured that we’ll have our eye on the position battles that will develop throughout the remainder of the offseason.
With that being said, there are position groups where surprises aren’t apparent. Starting jobs such as linebacker(s), safety, and running back seem to be more secure than others.
Michael Irvin II finds himself atop of the tight end group in this first edition, meaning that the incoming Freshmen will have to earn their spots, and prove that they’re capable of being young stars. The expectations for Will Mallory and Brevin Jordan are high, but with both of them having no previous experience with the team, it’s no wonder why Irvin gets the early nod.
Another surprise came from the receiver group, as Jeff Thomas was placed in the second group, with Mike Harley being in the first. The second group also includes true-Freshmen Mark Pope and Brian Hightower, so it’s a bit confusing as to why Thomas would be included alongside them.
Mike Harley showed flashes of his talent last season, but didn’t amass similar numbers or have the same production that Thomas did. However, this is the first depth chart, and Saturday was the Canes’ first practice; so we can predict that Thomas will still find himself near the top of the wide receiver group, regardless if he’s currently second to Harley.
This first depth chart has created some buzz, and raised some questions; but it’s only the first one. We can expect changes every week, and for new faces to emerge as starters or key role players. With the season opener less than a month away, it’ll be interesting to see who blooms and who recedes.