Miami Football: Incoming Freshmen Likely to See Most Playing Time in 2014

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2014

Joe Yearby
Joe YearbyCredit: 247Sports

The Miami Hurricanes added a top recruiting class in February, and a handful of those signed prospects will earn a significant role during the 2014 regular season.

Thanks to one 5-star and 11 4-stars, per 247Sports, Miami's collective talent at each position is rising. But which incoming freshmen are likely to see the most playing time in 2014?

After taking into account the current depth chart, the caliber of each player and their respective readiness, four scholarship athletes and one wild-card walk-on came to the forefront.

Without further ado, let's get to it.


Joe Yearby, Running Back

It's no secret the Hurricanes are breaking in a new quarterback, and it's equally as obvious Miami is relying on Duke Johnson to be the key player. But he can't do everything all game long.

Fortunately, Joe Yearby is available to fill in for the superstar running back. Considering he still has not officially toppled backup Gus Edwards, though, his role is not perfectly clear.

According to Matt Porter of The Palm Beach Post, Yearby's ideal situation is being used as a "change-of-pace scatback to complement Duke (all-around force) and Gus [Edwards] (short-yardage bruiser). If he's the uppercut you throw every few series, you're in good shape."

As seen in the accompanying video, Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer believes Yearby will rush for 500 yards this season. Reaching that mark is largely dependent on Yearby receiving around 10 carries per game, which is not a far-fetched number.

Yearby is the safest bet to receive the most playing time as a freshman.


Kc McDermott, Offensive Tackle

Kc McDermott
Kc McDermottCredit: 247Sports

Immediately following his commitment, offensive lineman Kc McDermott was pegged as a potential four-year starter. Seantrel Henderson's departure created a void at right tackle, so Taylor Gadbois and the younger McDermott were the top perceived options.

While the post-spring depth chart listed him as Ereck Flowers' backup at left tackle, McDermott should not be locked in to that side. Project lineman Sonny Odogwu was the second-stringer behind Gadbois, but McDermott is the more polished player.

"He can play both and likely will," Porter said. "UM rotates linemen often and I'm not convinced Odogwu's ready to be a regular."

If anything happens to an offensive lineman—especially Swiss army knife reserve Alex Gall—McDermott will be an integral part of the rotation.


Chad Thomas, Defensive End

Though relatively obvious considering he is the first 5-star signee since Anthony Chickillo in 2011, Chad Thomas will have opportunities to showcase his abilities.

According to David Lake of 247Sports (subscription required), Chick is impressed with the way his counterpart arrived on campus with a desire to learn:

Chad has been awesome," Chickillo said of his play this summer. "He wants to learn and asks a ton of questions. He is working hard and trying to get his weight up. He is going to be a good player. He is quick, he has some good moves and he is going to be good. The thing I like most about Chad is that he is not saying much. You get guys that come in and sometimes they talk a lot. He is not like that. He is willing to learn and he asks a lot of questions.

As of this moment, it appears Thomas will likely be a third-down edge-rushing specialist similar to how Tyriq McCord was utilized in 2012.

"I think he can be a steady third-down contributor in year one," Porter said. "Ideally, he'd be making the coaches think about giving him full-time duty by the end of the season."

Thomas has a sky-high ceiling, but his translatable skill set is relatively limited in 2014. Of course, if he disrupts quarterbacks a few times during 10-15 snaps per game, that's when the coaches will be forced to find Thomas more playing time.

And that's exactly the vision Miami fans have hoped for since Thomas' commitment.


Juwon Young, Linebacker

Juwon Young
Juwon YoungCredit: 247Sports

Arriving at "The U" as an early enrollee at a depleted position, Juwon Young was in excellent shape to make an impression.

Playing behind Denzel Perryman, however, is both a blessing and a curse, since the senior will not leave the field often. Additionally, Young must beat out redshirt sophomore JaWand Blue for the second-string role.

Granted, the freshman may essentially play by default because Miami really only has those three inside linebackers. With that being said, Porter believes the linebacker could use some seasoning.

"I don't think he's ready yet," Porter said. "Good size, but looked rawer than expected and had a lot of hard coaching this spring."

Like Jermaine Grace in 2013, Young figures to play special teams and see limited meaningful snaps. But that certainly doesn't mean the game experience is worthless.


Wild Card: Jonathan Semerene, Kicker

Don't knock the specialists, man.

In the accompanying video, Jonathan Semerene blasted a 70-yard field goal. I hardly care there was a noticeable tailwind—that is an absolute bomb. Matt Goudis is heavily favored to retain his job as the starting place-kicker, but Semerene is clearly capable of challenging the junior.

The Cypress Bay product is an overlooked contender for the currently wide-open competition at punter. And if his rocket leg transfers from field goals to punts, he'll definitely be a legitimate choice to contribute as a true freshman.


Notes: All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.