Miami Football: Meet the Hurricanes' 6 New Starters for 2013
Young, inexperienced players flooded the field for the Miami Hurricanes last season, but many starters from Al Golden's 2012 team return with high expectations.
The dream of a national championship may be far-fetched, but the school's first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference title is certainly within reach.
No one will care how good Miami is supposed to be, however, until the team proves it on the field.
Fortunately for the Hurricanes, this group has all the tools to "bring it" on game day.
Ereck Flowers, Left Tackle
Ereck Flowers is not completely new to the Hurricanes' starting lineup.
As a true freshman, Flowers impressively started the first four games of the 2012 season before Seantrel Henderson eventually regained his position. Now starting opposite of Henderson, Flowers is a promising sophomore.
Listed at 6'6" and 312 pounds, Flowers certainly is an imposing figure on the line of scrimmage.
Duke Johnson's high school teammate appeared in all 12 games last year and made a noticeable impact, but the 'Canes are hoping for a full season of dynamic blocking from Flowers.
Duke Johnson, Running Back
Backed by a 247Sports Composite 5-star ranking, Duke Johnson was supposed to become a great player for the Hurricanes at some point during his college days.
Well, 2012 was a good start for the hometown stud.
Offensively, Johnson ran for 947 yards and 10 touchdowns with a 6.8 yards-per-carry average and caught 27 passes for 221 yards and one score. He returned 27 kicks with a 33.0-yard average, which ranked second best in the nation, and added two touchdowns.
He earned All-American status, was named the ACC's Offensive and Overall Rookie of the Year and his 2,060 all-purpose yards narrowly missed the school record (2,108) set by Willis McGahee in 2002.
One could say expectations are sky-high for the sophomore, and said person would most definitely be correct.
Note: Despite Duke's numbers, Mike James was the starting running back for the 'Canes last season.
Herb Waters, Slot Receiver
Herb Waters is picking up in 2013 right where he ended last season, and that is a good sign for the 'Canes.
Waters started the final two games of the 2012 campaign and shined brightly in both performances. Against South Florida, the then-true freshman caught four passes for 130 yards, including an 87-yard touchdown. He followed up his career-best performance with a 65-yard score versus Duke the next week.
Waters finished the year with 10 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns after appearing in all 12 games, mostly in limited action.
But with true freshman Stacy Coley looming behind him on the depth chart, Waters must especially perform to keep his starting position.
Curtis Porter, Defensive Tackle
Throughout his four seasons at the University of Miami, Curtis Porter has repeatedly been hampered by various injuries. Porter has played just 15 games, including just seven appearances during the last three years.
But as a senior, Porter is looking to help the 'Canes defensive line recover from a dismal 2012 season.
Despite missing eight weeks last year, Porter made his presence known when he was actually on the field. He made nine tackles and 2.5 were for loss over four games (two starts).
Porter has not had a single sack at Miami, however, and Golden will be looking for the fifth-year senior to start disrupting the quarterback more often this season.
Alex Figueroa or Thurston Armbrister, Outside Linebacker
The post-fall camp depth chart lists Alex Figueroa and Thurston Armbrister as co-starters, but both players would be first-timers.
Figueroa, a freshman, demanded the attention of the coaching staff soon after arriving on campus in January. Following spring practice, Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post reported Golden said Figureroa is "on a mission."
He finished spring ball as the starter, and Figueroa is hoping to make an immediate impression on other teams when the regular season finally arrives.
Armbrister provides a handful of experience, though, as he started four games over the course of the 2012 season. He played in all 12 games (four starts), tallied 40 total tackles and made two tackles for loss as a redshirt freshman.
After the offseason departures of Eddie Johnson, Gionni Paul and Gabe Terry left a massive void in the Hurricanes' linebacker depth, the emergence of both Figueroa and Armbrister is a welcomed sign in Miami.
Tracy Howard or Antonio Crawford, Cornerback
Similar to one outside linebacker position, a cornerback spot currently has two players—Tracy Howard and Antonio Crawford—listed as co-starters.
Many, unfairly, expected Howard to be a world-beater as a true freshman, and although he did not have an All-American-caliber season, Howard was still a valuable reserve.
He had his most productive collegiate game in the season finale against Duke. Howard shook the second-string title, earned his first career start, collected four tackles and had two pass breakups.
Crawford, on the other hand, primarily played special teams as a true freshman and made seven tackles throughout the season.
Charlie McCarthy of Fox Sports Florida notes both players are eager to play like veterans and have "turned the corner."
Since the 'Canes no longer have Brandon McGee or Thomas Finnie, Miami needs all of its cornerbacks to step up. Howard may have higher expectations than Crawford, but both players have the talent to officially lock down the starting position.