Miami Football: Spring Practice Position Battle Tracker
The Miami Hurricanes return 13 starters for the 2014 season, leaving the nine vacated spots to position battles throughout the spring session.
Headlined by the quarterback competition, the 'Canes are looking for a handful of players to step up and lead the rebuilding program.
At certain positions, injuries are allowing youth to showcase their skills while incumbent starters are temporarily sidelined.
Additionally, a few roles have players returning from an injury-hampered 2013 campaign, so spring practices at the Greentree facilities are important opportunities to impress the coaches.
Ryan Williams is the favorite to be the 'Canes starting quarterback for the upcoming season after serving as the backup to Stephen Morris for the previous two years.
Redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen currently trails Williams, but his performance thus far is not being overlooked.
Per Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami head coach Al Golden said that Olsen has been "getting better and is starting to close ground, but right now, Ryan is ahead of Kevin and Kevin is ahead of Gray."
Gray Crow, the forgotten gunslinger, will continue to push the duo, but the quarterback battle is really a two-man race between Williams and Olsen.
Stacy Coley is undeniably the best wideout on the team, but a slew of other receivers are battling to become the next options.
In 2012, Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott were the Hurricanes' top two receivers. Last season, however, Scott and Dorsett suffered injuries and missed nine and five games, respectively.
Herb Waters hauled in 28 passes as a sophomore, and he is seeking a higher role while Malcolm Lewis and D'Mauri Jones attempt to catch him.
Chirinos notes the Miami receivers are eager to help fill the void left by school-record setter Allen Hurns.
Dorsett and Scott had impressive seasons, but their hardships opened the door for Waters' 2013 campaign. Lewis had a promising start to his collegiate career before a gruesome ankle injury limited him for an entire season. Jones is looking to emerge as a key contributor.
Many players will contend, but the 'Canes can only put so many receivers on the field at one time.
Seantrel Henderson departed for the NFL, and true freshman Kc McDermott and redshirt sophomore Taylor Gadbois are challenging to earn his job.
McDermott, a much-heralded recruit, has been working with the second team at practice. Per Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald, offensive line coach Art Kehoe believes McDermott can play guard or tackle on either side.
Prospectively, Jon Feliciano and Danny Isidora will start alongside center Shane McDermott, leaving the younger brother to vie for a starting job as a tackle.
Gadbois appeared in just four games last season, but he is certainly confident in his abilities, according to Navarro.
I didn't want to be behind Seantrel and [Brandon] Linder. Did I think I was better than them? All day. But they were seniors...good players. You have to wait your time, bite your tongue and work. Now it's my time.
But McDermott is a solid contender to overtake Gadbois as the starting right tackle.
The linebacking corps is led by senior Denzel Perryman, but the strong-side outside linebacker role needs an occupant.
Thurston Armbrister has started 10 games over the last two seasons, and he earned a coveted black jersey during the third week of spring practice, according to Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post.
The problem is, however, sophomore Alex Figueroa had already been donning the shirt showing which players have been defensive leaders. 247Sports' David Lake (subscription required) notes Figueroa tries to "bring great energy to practice" while playing with passion to inspire his teammates.
Armbrister brings a plethora of game experience while "Figs" is an emotional leader. While Armbrister has clearly stepped up since the beginning of the spring session, Figueroa has been running through blockers and ball-carriers the entire time.
Figueroa holds the edge right now, but Armbrister isn't far behind.
Rayshawn Jenkins has been unavailable for the spring session, providing sophomore Jamal Carter and junior Dallas Crawford meaningful reps at the safety position.
Carter has laid a couple of big hits during the workouts, demanding attention for his performance. He rarely played outside of a special teams role last year, but Carter is slowly locking up the second-string position.
However, a team leader is closing in on Carter. Since moving from running back into the defensive backfield, Crawford said the transition is "going much better than I expected," per Lake (subscription required).
Jenkins will be the starter upon his return from injury, but Carter and Crawford will be chasing the junior and battling each other along the way.