Since the close of the 2009 NCAA college football season, 'Canes supporters and plain ol' college football analysts and enthusiasts everywhere have asked the question, "What will the 'Canes do for an encore to follow up a strong season?"
The 'Canes have had a history of solid recruiting, as they have produced NFL stars such as Michael Irvin, Clinton Portis, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, Kellen Winslow Jr, Warren Sapp, Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed, just to name a few.
The Hurricanes had a record streak of 14 consecutive seasons with at least one NFL first round draft pick being used on one of its players, from 1995-2008, and in 2004, there were six Hurricanes selected in the first round of the draft, with late safety Sean Taylor heading the list, going No. 5 overall to the Washington Redskins.
More recently, the Hurricanes were heavily represented at the 2010 NFC-AFC Pro Bowl, with 11 former 'Canes playing or selected to play in the annual all-star game.
Only one year ago, the Hurricanes were hailed as having the best recruiting class in the country, boasting six ESPN 150 players, led by Safety Ray-Ray Armstrong. No recruiting class will ever stand out as the best in Hurricanes' history because of the storied success that the 'Canes have had in finding not only the best talent available, but also the best character individuals that would fit the program's such high standards of excellence not only on the field, but off the field as well.
This season's class has been relatively unknown. According to ESPN.com, the Hurricanes' projected Class of 2010 is currently ranked No. 12 in the country, while Rivals.com projects the 'Canes at No. 19. Such a lukewarm ranking does not mean the end or that this class may not be able to contribute, because Santana Moss, Ed Reed, and other 'Canes were signed in relatively ho-hum recruiting classes and became stars.
This class is led by Under Armour All American four star running back Storm Johnson, who is ranked the No. 3 RB prospect coming out of Loganville HS in Georgia. Of Johnson, ESPN.com says, "He is a load of back with deceptive speed and lateral quickness. His good feet can actually be a detriment at times. He can take extra east-west cuts instead of blasting it downhill. Johnson has great size and, for the most part, runs with good body lean."
The Hurricanes are stocked for the upcoming season with young stars such as quarterback Jacory Harris, pictured above, running backs Damien Berry, Mike James and Lamar Miller and wide receivers Leonard Hankerson, Aldarius Johnson and Travis Benjamin at the offensive skill positions, and the Hurricanes' defense is stocked as usual led by LBs Sean Spence and DBs Ray Ray Armstrong, Vaughn Telemaque and Brandon Harris.
The Hurricanes' biggest need in the offseason was depth along the offensive line and an injury answer for RB Greg Cooper, as he has been lost for the season with knee injuries.
Their recruiting efforts have been stung by several de-commits and the increasing presence of Florida and Florida State in the area, which has resulted in many "four and five star" recruits instead signing with those programs.
Analysts have speculated that even if Miami's recruiting class remains as it is currently projected, that they will have no drop off in talent and will remain competitive in an ACC that features a Florida State team in transition, the defending ACC champion Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and rising teams such as North Carolina and Clemson.
Randy Shannon has always been a solid recruiter, and has the reputation to back it up. Whether this class will contribute immediately will be decided once they take the field. The coaching staff has always been tops or near the top of the recruiting pile, as the best talent has always been said to come from South Florida.