As the Hurricanes look to rebuild their offensive look under new OC Dan Enos, one of the largest projects is that of the offensive line. And if you dive even deeper into that renovation of the OL, you see two glaring positions that need to be filled, and that’s at left guard and left tackle.
It seems that Miami has their center, left guard and right tackle figured out, which is a great start. Junior Navaughn Donaldson will be back at his natural position of right guard, accompanied by DJ Scaife and center Corey Gaynor.
Scaife played both tackle and guard at some points in 2018, but some say that he may be best suited to line up at RT. When practice started up again in March, Scaife was put at LT, though, during the spring game, he was lined up as left guard. Miami’s offensive line rotation throughout spring practice was just one big giant mess if we’re being completely honest.
#Canes offensive line first unit continues to be Zalon’tae Hillary (75) at right tackle, John Campbell (74) at right guard, Corey Gaynor (65) at center, Navaughn Donaldson (55) at left guard, DJ Scaife (51) at left tackle. Today is first day in pads— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) March 22, 2019
Miami's first-team offensive line, from left to right: Zion Nelson, DJ Scaife, Navaughn Donaldson, Cleveland Reed, Kai-Leon Herbert.— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) April 20, 2019
For the sake of the article, we’re going to assume that Scaife will be starting at right tackle. So let’s look at LT and LG, and who’s ready to step up.
Let’s start off with the left tackles, and most specifically freshman Zion Nelson, who Miami was able to flip from Appalachian State this past recruiting cycle. Though he early enrolled at UM weighing just 240 pounds, David Feeley and the strength staff bulked him up to 275 by the end of spring.
At the conclusion of spring, Nelson was getting first team reps, and started at LT in the final scrimmage in Orlando. He’s hoping to get up to 285 pounds before the season starts, as a representation of the new leaner that Miami is looking for in their lineman. Though, is Nelson really going to be the QB’s blindside protection when the Canes meet the Gators on August 24th?
How Zion Nelson can go from 2-star to starter. The young freshman has gotten the attention of fans, the media, and Dan Enos with his worth ethic and natural skills. https://t.co/jbgsXSi5ed pic.twitter.com/cuKwcVom83— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 23, 2019
Next we have Zalon’tae Hillery, who started the spring on the first-team, but lost that privilege once practices ended in April. However, when talking to college football analyst Phil Steele the other week, Hillery was one of the names he mentioned of players that could step up for Miami in 2019. Entering his third season, Hillery needs to make a big impression this season.
When talking to Phil Steele on Sunday, he also mentioned offensive lineman Zalon'tae Hillery as a player that will step up in 2019.— MarshThomas (@hurricanesmarsh) July 16, 2019
Moving on, there’s Kai-Leon Herbert and John Campbell. Herbert wasn’t on first-team to begin spring ball, but ended in the starting-five, Campbell was the complete opposite. As a redshirt sophomore, Herbert is another player who is expected to make that jump this season.
Kai Leon Herbert says his first two seasons at Miami we’re marred by torn labrum, meniscus injuries. He’s healthy now— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) April 16, 2019
Campbell is someone, like Scaife, who has played at both guard and tackle. Though, Campbell told reporters in May that he’ll be looking to challenge for a starting left tackle spot. The redshirt freshman played in four games during 2018, and says he is five pounds heavier now. While he didn’t end spring starting, it’s been reported that Campbell made a big jump in the off-season.
Finally, let’s take a look at guards Cleveland Reed and Ousman Traore. Similar to Herbert, Reed didn’t being spring starting, but by the end was taking first-team reps at right guard. Another redshirt freshman, Reed played in just two games last season. If you look at most reporters and their predictions, Reed is the guy expected to be starting at LG.
As @Andrew_Ivins first reported, this tweet from Manny Diaz last night was for Miami’s latest commitment from JUCO offensive lineman Ousman Traore (6-4, 337) who will help provide depth on the offensive line this fall at guard. https://t.co/p4rFE0rvhO— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) June 7, 2019
Traore, who was a JUCO transfer, is massive, coming in at 6’4” 337lbs. Starting 11 games in 2018, Ousman was also a first team All-Conference player. Hopefully his limited experience with provide dividends for Butch Barry and his unit.