Miami Football: Predicting the Depth Chart Heading into Fall Camp
Fall camp has almost arrived for the Miami Hurricanes, which means fans will be eagerly anticipating a newly released depth chart.
Before that eventually happens, however, previewing the 11 projected respective offensive and defensive starters and two specialists serves as a starting point for what to expect in August.
The predictions include a decent number of familiar faces since a majority of the team's playmakers return for the upcoming campaign.
Hopefully, head coach Al Golden will soon release a depth chart, providing the official look at where Miami stands heading into the final weeks of preparation for the 2014 season.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Projected: Kevin Olsen, Jake Heaps, Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier
Notable Injury: Ryan Williams
Kevin Olsen enters the fall with a slight edge, but there's no shortage of contenders with Jake Heaps leading the charge behind the redshirt freshman.
Per Susan Miller Degnan of the The Miami Herald, running back Duke Johnson said the Kansas transfer "'reads coverages the best' and has impeccable timing. 'He's in rhythm with every throw. He just has to learn the playbook.'"
By season's end, Ryan Williams should have started the majority of games, but Olsen or Heaps will get the initial nod while the senior continues his recovery process.
Neither Brad Kaaya nor Malik Rosier will be redshirted without receiving an opportunity under center, though either true freshman winning the No. 1 job is unlikely.
Projected: Duke Johnson, Gus Edwards, Joe Yearby
The only question surrounding the Hurricanes' running backs is how often the team's best player, Duke Johnson, will touch the ball. Miller Degnan notes Johnson only rarely feels discomfort eight months removed from ankle surgery.
"I barely feel it," Johnson said. "Sometimes I feel pain when I'm doing too much and have a long day—when I do more than one workout, when I go the extra mile after practice. It's just tightness. Not really sharp pain."
Miami knows what power back Gus Edwards brings to the team, providing a Mike James-esque physicality to be used in short-yardage situations.
Golden plans on using Joe Yearby as a true freshman, mentioning on ACC Media Day that "Joe's going to have to play," per Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post.
Projected WR1: Stacy Coley, Rashawn Scott, D'Mauri Jones
Projected WR2: Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Lewis, Herb Waters, Braxton Berrios
The Hurricanes receiving corps poses an interesting predicament: Other than rising star Stacy Coley, Miami has a plethora of slightly above-average talent.
Phillip Dorsett can fly down the field, Rashawn Scott has the most reliable hands, Herb Waters was a solid threat in 2013 and Malcolm Lewis looked superb in the spring game.
Ultimately, who gets the reps? Adding D'Mauri Jones and Braxton Berrios further complicates the picture, but suffice to say wide receiver will be a fluid situation throughout August.
That is, other than Coley, of course.
Projected TE: Clive Walford, Standish Dobard and Beau Sandland
Clive Walford missed some of spring practice, opening the door for Standish Dobard to make his presence felt in March. However, it's rather evident Walford will be the starter barring a major change.
But even as Dobard drops below the senior, he remains even with Beau Sandland for the backup spot. Considering that offensive coordinator James Coley is exploring ways to reduce pressure on his new quarterback, two tight-end sets should not be a foreign concept for Miami.
Both Dobard and Sandland spent much of their earlier football careers running seam routes against overmatched defenders, so whoever learned how to properly block better will earn the spot.
Projected (LT to RT): Ereck Flowers, Jon Feliciano, Shane McDermott, Danny Isidora, Taylor Gadbois
Reserves (LT to RT): Kc McDermott, Hunter Wells, Alex Gall, Trevor Darling, Sunny Odogwu
While Ereck Flowers, Jon Feliciano and Shane McDermott are the clear leaders up front, Danny Isidora and Taylor Gadbois are the heavily favored remaining options.
But if any backup is to break into the starting lineup, it will either be sophomore Alex Gall or true freshman Kc McDermott. The two players are the only realistic contenders, though Trevor Darling is not far behind.
Hunter Wells and Sunny Odogwu still have noticeable strides to make in order to earn a significant role in the rotation, which Golden hopes becomes 8-10 players, per Porter.
Projected (DE to DE): Anthony Chickillo, Olsen Pierre, Earl Moore, Al-Quadin Muhammad
Reserves: Ufomba Kamalu, Jelani Hamilton, Calvin Heurtelou, Tyriq McCord and Chad Thomas
Even though he has little significant game action, Al-Quadin Muhammad is the most hyped defender in Miami. The sophomore has packed on 20 pounds in a year, and at 6'4" he'll be a quick and lengthy opponent who is difficult to defend.
Chad Thomas landed in a backup spot because Tyriq McCord is the emergency plan to help at linebacker, the 'Canes' glaring weakness at this point. The true freshman was bound to break the two-deep in 2014, but he will be used more, somewhat sooner than expected.
Ufomba Kamalu ended 2013 strong before making noticeable strides this spring, adding his name to the discussion for a starting spot. Granted, he is behind Anthony Chickillo in the rotation, so the competition is extremely beneficial for both D-ends.
At defensive tackle, returning starter Olsen Pierre is the No. 1, followed by Earl Moore and Calvin Heurtelou. Miami may shift Chickillo or Kamalu inside on third downs to use a pair of true edge-rushers, so Jelani Hamilton, Michael Wyche and Corey King need to impress during the fall.
OLB1: Raphael Kirby, Tyriq McCord and Darrion Owens
MLB: Denzel Perryman, Juwon Young, Terry McCray
OLB2: Thurston Armbrister, Jermaine Grace
The Hurricanes will be carried by Denzel Perryman, who isn't lacking in confidence, as noted by Miller Degnan. "We're going to go pretty far this year," the senior said. "We're looking to be a top-10 defense. This year everybody is on the same page. Everybody knows the playbook in and out."
And Miami better hope so. Behind Thurston Armbrister, Raphael Kirby and Jermaine Grace are touted solely on the dangerous P-word—potential—and little previous collegiate production. If the 'Canes struggle, Golden can turn to his backup plan in McCord, who Porter says can play strong-side linebacker in some packages.
Darrion Owens and Juwon Young have been working out and practicing with the program since January and so may be ready for limited roles, but Terry McCray faces a serious learning curve.
CB1: Tracy Howard, Antonio Crawford, Corn Elder
FS: Deon Bush, Jamal Carter
SS: Rayshawn Jenkins, Dallas Crawford
CB2: Ladarius Gunter, Artie Burns, Ryan Mayes
With a combined 55 starts between Ladarius Gunter, Rayshawn Jenkins, Tracy Howard, Deon Bush and Antonio Crawford, the Miami secondary is the strength of the defense—at least on paper.
Individually, Howard is an All-ACC-caliber corner, and Jenkins is a top-tier safety in the conference. Bush screams elite, but that is dependent on the junior actually staying healthy for an entire season.
While Gunter is the team's most experienced defensive back, Burns will be pressing for a starting position alongside Howard. The unit's biggest competition will showcase the duo, but Bush must hold off Jamal Carter, too.
Kicker: Matt Goudis
Punter: Justin Vogel, Ricky Carroll, Matt Goudis
Matt Goudis was the 'Canes' placekicker in 2013, and there are few good reasons he should not retain that spot. After converting on all 57 extra points last season—which was a new school record—Goudis is safely locked into that position.
On the other hand, he is battling Justin Vogel and Ricky Carroll at punter. Vogel, an offseason transfer from Florida who is immediately available because he walked on, is the top competition for the senior, Carroll.
According to Miller Degnan, Golden said Goudis will continue working there, but Vogel and Carroll are currently in front.