Even though Randy Shannon's first year as the Sheriff of the Canes didn't go as well as the fans, players, or Shannon himself expected, he was all over the country finding playmakers to improve the talent and speed on the roster in his goal to put the Canes back on top.
The team is loaded with depth and talent throughout the roster (for the first time in years) as juniors and seniors are battling daily in the gym and in practice with freshmen and sophomores to keep their starting job.
These battles remind many former players of the enviroment that legend Jimmy Johnson created, which led to a National Championship and numerous first round picks.
If you are unfamiliar with the roster, listen for these players as they will have a major impact on the success or failure of the 2008 squad.
Robert Marve (QB) - The redshirt freshman injured his wrist in an offseason accident before the beginning of last season. While that may have hurt his development, this former Mr. Florida—who broke numerous Tim Tebow high school records—has the desire and talent to become the next difference maker at the QB position.
Javarris James (RB) - The cousin of Edgerrin James is over the numerous injuries that slowed him down in 2007. After a solid offseason in the gym, he should be running with power and speed between the tackles.
Graig Cooper (RB) - The highly-touted recruit compared to Reggie Bush has added muscle to his frame but didn't lose any speed, and his elusive moves should help break some long touchdown runs for the Canes.
Jermaine McKenzie (WR) - Redshirted with Marve as he suffered injuries in the accident, but he destroyed the practice squad defense with great hands and great route running. He will be Marve's favorite target.
Marcus Fortson (DT) - The true freshman will come in and disrupt offenses for three years until he leaves for the NFL.
Sean Spence (LB) - Showed in spring that he has the smarts to play any LB position and is a tackling machine.
Arthur Brown (LB) - Another true freshman with sick talent. He just needs to learn the correct technique, but will gain plenty of playing time as a frosh.
Demarcus VanDyke (CB) - This second-year player will become one of the team's shutdown corners and can help on punt and kickoff returns.
There are about 10 more players that need to be mentioned, including a few other true freshmen that are just the talent needed at the WR position, but that will come in a later article.
Overall I expect six to eight wins for this Canes team. After an easy game against Charleston Southern (North Texas backed out), the Canes go to the Swamp and also have to play FSU and VTech.
If Shannon has another class on the same level as this past class, the Canes will be challenging for a title over the course of the next few seasons.