Miami Hurricanes Football: Fresh 2012 Starting Lineup Projection

Stephen UrbaniakCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2011

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 19:  Kicker Jake Wieclaw #40 of the Miami Hurricanes misses a third-quarter field goal against the South Florida Bulls November 19, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  The Hurricanes won 6 - 3. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes' 2011 season concluded with a thud, as the 'Canes were befuddled by Boston College by a score of 24-17 in the season finale of an otherwise miserable campaign marred by suspensions, inconsistent play and sometimes downright terrible decision-making.

Miami is a team that many thought (and still think) would get hit by the hammer of the NCAA, as the nature of the investigation of "Hurricane Shapiro" first revealed in August by Yahoo! Sports may be too hard for the NCAA to forget.

College football has also seen scandals at Ohio State, Oregon and, most notably, at Penn State this season.

The Hurricanes are entering the second year of Al Golden's regime, and they have been mediocre in the ACC since joining the conference in 2004. 

They have not sniffed the ACC's Coastal Division title or the ACC Championship.  Virginia Tech has been the Hurricanes' Achilles' heel, as the Hokies have been the class of the division and challenged for the conference championship last season.

The team loses most of the members from the highly touted 2008 draft class, including QB Jacory Harris and LB Sean Spence.

Al Golden is still pitching the program to recruits, and he is trying to make the Class of 2012 formidable and immediate-impact ready ahead of possible scholarship reductions as part of a possible penalty from the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

Here is a fresh list of the projected starting lineup for the Hurricanes in the coming year with top recruits included:

Quarterbacks:  Stephen Morris, Ryan Williams, Preston Dewey

The Edge: The edge in this battle would have to go to Morris, as he has more experience than the former Memphis transfer Ryan Williams.  Morris' first start this season came against Maryland, where he was replacing the suspended Jacory Harris.  It did not go well for him, as Miami would go on to lose to the Terrapins in the final seconds on a late interception. 

Expect Morris to go into spring training with the first crack at replacing the NFL-bound Jacory Harris. Dewey will most likely redshirt his first year as he learns from whoever the starter is come springtime.

Running Backs: Mike James, Randy "Duke" Johnson, Eduardo Clements, Maurice Hagens

The Edge:  James leads this group of deep, talented tailbacks looking to become the primary runner to replace the surprisingly-now-departed-to-NFL Lamar Miller.  All of these guys have the ability to carry the offense, but not everyone can get into the game. 

Johnson looks to make an immediate impact as he comes from Miami-Norlund High School, having single-handedly carried his team in the Florida Class 5A State Championship Game. 

Clements and Hagens will look to battle the loser of the James/Johnson contest to be the primary backup.

Wide Receivers: Allen Hurns, Chad Barnes, Phillip Dorsett, Garrett Kidd, Shawn O'Dare, Rashawn Scott, Kendal Thompson, Angelo Jean-Louis, Malcolm Lewis

The Edge: This is another deep, talented group that has stars in the making in Hurns and Dorsett.  These guys are going to try to fill the big shoes of the now departed Travis Benjamin and Tommy Streeter. 

These guys are following in the footsteps of Andre Johnson, Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne and Devin Hester.  The Hurricanes will need better play from them in 2012 in order to take the pressure off of the running game to restore a semblance of balance in the offensive attack.

Tight Ends: Asante Cleveland, Dyron Dye, David Perry, Billy Sanders, Clive Walford, Cory White

The Edge: This is a group rooted in excellence.  Jeremy Shockey, Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham and Kellen Winslow II are just some of the names to dominate in a Hurricanes uniform from the tight end position.

The tight ends in the 'Canes offense have traditionally been bigger guys that have had the ability to run block, and also had the size and speed to give the quarterback an extra target. 

Dye was one of the suspensions that Miami handed down in the wake of the scandal, and he was a non-factor upon his return, as Chase Ford was the leader of this group. 

An emergence of any one of these kids would give the 'Canes a legitimate threat across the middle and down the seams.

Offensive Line: Jermaine Barton, Malcolm Bunche, Jon Feliciano, Seantrel Henderson, Jermaine Johnson, Ben Jones, Shane McDermott

The Edge: This group had a bit of a down year as Miami was at times a little shaky on the line, and it has to replace All-ACC lineman Brandon Washington.  Henderson, Bunche and Feliciano are all returnees with potential to make the offensive line better than it was a year ago. 

Better play from this group will also help the offense immensely, as it would be able to make holes for Mike James or whoever is carrying the football for Miami, and it would also help take pressure off of the quarterback.

Defensive Line: Anthony Chickillo, Ricardo Williams, Darius Smith, Luther Robinson, Curtis Porter, Corey King, Jelani Hamilton

The Edge: This group was another area that underperformed in 2011.  The Hurricanes ranked in the lower half of the country in dropping the quarterback. 

The defensive line is instrumental in imposing its will on the game, stopping the run and pressuring the opposing quarterback.  The team only had 24 sacks in 2011, and that will have to change in order to make games winnable for the team going into 2012.

Linebackers: Erik Akre, Kelvin Cain, Akil Craig, Denzel Perryman, Raphael Kirby

The Edge: The linebackers are going to have a tough time replacing All-World LB Sean Spence, as he was the heart and soul of the Hurricanes' defense.  Spence was the man responsible for getting the defense lined up and in the right positions. 

With the defensive line having so much trouble trying to get pressure on the quarterback, the linebackers were often left to pressuring the quarterback and leaving some passing lanes wide open. 

Perryman will have to step up into Spence's shoes in order for this group not to miss a beat.

Defensive Backs: Thurston Armbrister, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Vaughn Telemaque, Keion Payne, Brandon McGee, Thomas Finnie, Rayshawn Jenkins, Vernon Davis

The Edge: The leaders of this group are obviously Armstrong and Telemaque.  Armstrong was one of the suspensions that Miami had to endure, as he was suspended for six games and then missed the Florida State game for another boneheaded act, tweeting about a meeting he had with an agent. 

McGee had his ups and downs, and Finnie is still waiting for the breakout game.  Jenkins and Davis are two recruits from the Class of 2012 that Golden and the coaches have high hopes for. 

Better pass coverage will enable the defensive line to pressure the quarterback and put the secondary in a position to make plays on rushed throws. All of these guys will have something to prove in 2011.


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