Throughout the entire NCAA, college football programs want to win right now. They want to win right away.
But, as is the case with the Miami Hurricanes, some schools are still building for the future, piecing together well-rounded rosters at every position.
Sure, the 'Canes can surprise some people by springing an upset or two this season, but the 2014 recruiting class that was made official on national signing day provides a glimpse into the coming years of Miami football.
And in an era that's so focused on winning all 14 games by the end of next week, let's relieve the building pressure and expectations by looking at a potential starting lineup for the 2016 season.
Note: This piece will not specifically name 2015 recruits, but the class itself will be referenced because of its eventual effect on the starting lineup.
Last season, the Hurricanes offense was an adventure without Duke Johnson.
Much of Miami's success came when the running game had established, allowing the play-action game to be utilized and gaining 20-plus yards through the air. When Johnson suffered a fractured ankle, Stephen Morris shined—and not in a good way.
Truthfully, as the roster stands, the 2016 'Canes are rather similar to what comprised the 2013 offense.
|Miami Offense 2016 Starting Lineup|
|QB||Kevin Olsen||RS Junior|
|LG||Danny Isidora||RS Senior|
|RT||Sunny Odogwu||RS Junior|
The decision between Kevin Olsen and Brad Kaaya for the starting quarterback job is not an easy one. Olsen took a redshirt season in 2013, and Kaaya should do the same next year.
Following Ryan Williams' departure, Olsen and Kaaya will push each other for three seasons, and 2016 would be the second year in that process.
Duke Johnson will have graduated by this time, and Joseph Yearby is the heir apparent. It would be silly to overlook Gus Edwards, though, who is a more physical back. Ultimately, Yearby may receive the majority of the carries, while Edwards handles short-yardage situations or enters the game as a change-of-pace back.
Assuming he stays for his senior season, Stacy Coley will undoubtedly be the premier receiver in the group. Behind him, however, is a situation worth watching.
Braxton Berrios is expected to become a dynamic slot receiver, but another wideout must emerge for Miami. Tyre Brady, Darrell Langham and maybe D'Mauri Jones could become that player, but Golden is looking for—and should find—said receiver in a deep 2015 recruiting class.
Currently, tight end Standish Dobard appears to be a two-year starter, beginning in 2015 when he takes over for Clive Walford and Beau Sandland.
The offensive line will almost certainly showcase all three 2014 commits, those being Kc McDermott, Trevor Darling and Nick Linder. Filling in the open spaces are Danny Isidora and Sunny Odogwu, a pair of players about whom Miami coaches have raved on separate occasions.
Alex Gall and Taylor Gadbois will compete with Isidora and Odogwu, respectively, and Gall winning a starting job in his senior season would not necessarily be surprising.
Overall, the Hurricanes have a decent-looking offensive future, but it is imperative the coaching staff snags a couple of immediate-impact players in 2015 to bolster the unit's collective firepower.
Under Al Golden and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, the Hurricanes have been slowly transitioning to a 3-4 defense.
Now, of course, there are no guarantees that either Golden or D'Onofrio will still be coaching Miami in 2016. With that being said, a simple look at the roster shows the 'Canes are best suited for a 3-4 defense, anyway.
|Miami Defense 2016 Starting Lineup|
|Jack LB||Trent Harris||Junior|
|Sam LB||Alex Figueroa||Senior|
|Mike LB||Juwon Young||Junior|
|Will LB||Jermaine Grace||Senior|
|CB||Nate Dortch||RS Senior|
Mired in mediocre performance, the Miami defensive line finally received a forward-looking upgrade during the 2014 cycle. Chad Thomas joins Al-Quadin Muhammad as the defensive ends of the future, and Anthony Moten is the clear leader for a starting job in three years, considering the only other defensive tackle is signee Courtel Jenkins.
Demetrius Jackson is another player to watch, likely occupying a role as a true defensive end. Dwayne Hoilett will be a senior, but if prospective plans develop accordingly, Thomas, Muhammad and Jackson will be above the current reserve on the depth chart.
The defensive tackle position will continue to be addressed, but a 3-4 defense lessens the demand for tackles, putting the onus on the outside spots, where the Hurricanes will be very deep.
As for the second level, Trent Harris and Mike Smith are prime candidates for the Jack spot, an edge-rushing role that occasionally calls for a drop into coverage.
Overall, Miami has a plethora of outside linebackers but needs to find a man to roam the middle. Jermaine Grace and Alex Figueroa are the leaders for the outside spots, which leaves Juwon Young and Terry McCray in a battle for the inside spot.
Though Young may eventually find a home on the outside, he is a player the 'Canes will almost certainly just want on the field. Again, this could be a situation where a 2015 recruit is groomed to take over for expected Mike starter Raphael Kirby.
Kiy Hester and Darrion Owens roaming the safety positions is an intriguing thought, and the potential combination remains dependent on how Owens will be used at the collegiate level. Listed as an outside linebacker by all recruiting services, Owens' future could be in the defensive backfield.
And if he does, in fact, move to safety, the ball-hawking, big-hitting duo of Hester and Owens will be a treat to watch.
Heading into the 2015 recruiting class, cornerback is a position of need for Miami, and the 2016 prospectus makes that clear, because Artie Burns is the lone legitimate No. 1.
Though he is listed there right now, expecting Nate Dortch to remain in the starting lineup is a stretch. While Dortch may see time as a nickelback or backup on the outside, the 2015 class, essentially, is too deep for Miami to not sign a respectable No. 2 corner.
Ultimately, the Hurricanes' coaches are looking for a true middle linebacker and a couple of cornerbacks. Once Miami signs those players, the defense is poised to be the 'Canes' strength once again.
Defense wins championships, so it will be a step in the right direction for "The U." Even if that time is still three seasons away.
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