Here’s the general premise: If you combined the Miami and Florida State rosters, who would start at each position? There is always an argument of “how many players from (rival team) would start on (person’s favorite team)”, and it’s always engaging and fun.
With that being said, here’s how I see things at each position on the field heading into the 2019 installment of the Miami-Florida State rivalry:
Quarterback: Jarren Williams (Miami)
New year, same thought: I like Miami’s QBs — either of them — better than FSU’s. Williams was named the starter again this week for Miami, so he starts on this combined roster. And yes, I would go to N’Kosi Perry off the bench before either James Blackman or Alex Hornibrook.
Running Back: Cam Akers (FSU)
Easily the most talented RB on either roster, Akers is the clear choice to start on our combined Canes-Noles roster. I’d go with DeeJay Dallas and Cam’ron Harris as the next guys in.
Wide Receiver: KJ Osborn (Miami), Jeff Thomas (Miami), Tamorrion Terry (FSU)
Osborn is a steady performer whose consistent performance has been a nice addition for Miami. Thomas and Terry are explosive players who can change the scoreboard on any play. This trio would put immense pressure on any defense.
Tight End: Brevin Jordan (Miami)
Jordan is the best tight end in the Country. He starts on any roster of any team.
Tackles: Abdul Bello (FSU), DJ Scaife (Miami)
The lines for both Miami and FSU have left much to be desired, so we pick the best from a bad group, really.
Guards: Navaughn Donaldson (Miami), Dontae Lucas (FSU)
2 Miami natives who wear #55 start inside for our combined roster.
Center: Corey Gaynor (Miami)
Gaynor is a solid blocker and good leader at the center position.
Ends: Jonathan Garvin (Miami), Gregory Rousseau (Miami)
Miami’s ends are among the most talented in the country. I’d start them both, and go to Janarius Robinson off the bench. This group would likely be different if Joshua Kaindoh wasn’t out for the year...but he is, so here we are.
Tackles: Marvin Wilson (FSU), Jonathan Ford (Miami)
Wilson is one of the few players on this combined roster who is playing to the level of his recruiting ranking our of HS. Ford has taken a few years to get here, but he’s developed his body and his game to the point where he starts as well.
Linebackers: Dontavious Jackson (FSU), Michael Pinckney (Miami)
Probably shocking that I have Jackson over Shaquille Quarterman starting, but I do. Maybe it’s my high standard for where Quarterman should be performance-wise, but yeah. Pinckney is a dynamic force as a blitzer and instinctual enough to make plays that other LBs can’t.
STRIKER/STAR: Romeo Finley (Miami)
The best player at the 2nd level of either defense, Finley has continued his stellar performance from 2018.
Cornerbacks: Stanford Samuels III (FSU), Trajan Bandy (Miami)
Basically, I just took CB1 from both rosters and start them together. Makes sense, no?
Safeties: Hamsah Nasrildeen (FSU), Gurvan Hall (Miami)
Nasrildeen and Hall lead their respective teams in tackles, and can be seen making plays from sideline to sideline. This is a dynamic S pairing that can support against the run and be disruptive in pass coverage as well.
Nickel: Asante Samuels (FSU)
With Bandy starting outside, we bring in Samuels — another undersized CB — to start at nickel.
Kicker: Ricky Aguayo (FSU)
Miami’s kicking is among the worst in the country and Aguayo has been at FSU since 1973. Easy choice for him to start.
Punter: Louis Hedley (Miami)
Miami’s MVP so far this season, Hedley starts here.
Kick Returners: Keyshawn Helton (FSU), Jeff Thomas (Miami)
Two of the fastest players on either roster back together to return kickoffs? Yes, please.
Punt Returner: Jeff Thomas (Miami)
Miami Hurricanes: 17
In 2016, Miami had the lead on starters 14-13. But, FSU had Dalvin Cook and that was the difference.
In 2017, Miami’s lead grew to 17-11. But, Miami had Malik Rosier, and that kept things close.
In 2018, Miami’s lead grew again to 19-10. But FSU played their best game of the year and hopped out to a 27-7 lead before Miami stormed back for a 28-27 win.
This year, the numbers go back to where they were the last time these teams played in Tallahassee, with Miami holding a 17-11 edge in the starting lineup. I said that the number would be more in line with this as opposed to Miami’s near 2-to-1 advantage last year, and I was right! I be knowin’.....
In any event, regardless of the slight disparity in talent in this combined starting lineup, I fully expect Miami to get FSU’s best shot this weekend. In the last 2 years, that best shot hasn’t been enough for the Noles to beat the Canes. Will that change this year? I personally hope it does not.
Agree with my Miami-FSU merged roster starting lineup? Disagree with one (or more)? Hop in the comments and state your case.