Miami Football: 2013 Early Enrollees Gaining Big Depth Chart Advantage

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2013

Alex Figueroa via 247sports
Alex Figueroa via 247sports

The Miami Hurricanes return 19 starters next season, so the 19 committed players will really have to work to get into the rotation.

Head coach Al Golden used dozens of freshmen and sophomores on the 'Canes two-deep depth chart last season, but that means a ton of those players are still on the team. While that it is a good problem to have as a team, the incoming recruits will look to find their role for Golden.

Five players are already enrolled at the university and took part in spring practice. Alex Figueroa, one of the five early enrollees, earned a position as the starter at outside linebacker on the final depth chart release.

Offensive lineman Sonny Odogwu ultimately found himself as the second-string right tackle by the end of camp, and tight end Beau Sandland is listed third on the depth chart.

Even as the third-string, Sandland would see plenty of playing time due to goal-line and short-yardage situations.

Michael Casagrande of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes the importance of being on campus early as a early enrollees had significant roles throughout the 2012 season.

"Offensive lineman Ereck Flowers worked into the starting lineup when Seantrel Henderson got off to a slow start. Linebacker Raphael Kirby and defensive back Ladarius Gunter also played a big roles late in the 7-5 season."

Three more players are expected to be in Coral Gables for the first summer session.

Behind a paywall,'s Gary Ferman reports offensive lineman Alex Gall, defensive back Artie Burns and athlete Ray Lewis III will likely be enrolled before May 20.

Each of the eight players will have a big advantage over the 11 players simply due to being on campus.

The five "earliest" enrollees participated in all aspects of spring practice including the vaunted UTough program. Gall, Burns and Lewis III will soon be under the full control of Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Andreu Swasey.

Each lifting session on Swasey's program will be extremely beneficial to the three players, and they have eight more weeks than the final eleven.

Note: This, of course, is not a reprimand or a knock on the 11 "non-enrolled" players.

One of the three, specifically, will really have an advantage. Artie Burns is expected to challenge Gunter and Tracy Howard for the starting cornerback position immediately upon his arrival. 

With a 4.5 second 40-yard dash according to his player profile, Burns has speed to burn, and plenty of it.

Plus, at 6'0" with a 34-inch vertical, Burns could be a real menace defending on the outside sooner rather than later. Due to Miami's struggles in the secondary last season, Burns certainly would be a welcomed addition if he produces right away.

Lewis III, on the other hand, could play running back, wide receiver or in the secondary. Frankly, your guess is as good as mine concerning which position at this point in time.

According to Ferman, Gall anticipates being redshirted during his first season to "learn the system and the offense."

Additionally, arriving to campus early also helps players understand the expected mentality of the team in the classroom, in the weight room and around campus.

Remember, collegiate players will always be student-athletes, not just athletes.

Balancing football responsibilities with class work isn't as easy for some as it is for others, so knowing how to complete all tasks in a timely manner will be crucial for the incoming players. This will especially come in handy when the regular season starts.

A few of these early enrollees will surely be on the field against Florida Atlantic on Aug. 30, and every day they are on campus will give them a head start on beginning their collegiate career at the University of Miami.