The Miami Hurricanes have wrapped up their first week of spring practice and taking the entire week as a whole, there are many positive signs for the 2010 season.
Adewale Ojomo has looked good on the defensive line, after missing the 2009 season because of a broken jaw. His weight is up, as he weighed in about 250 pounds. For those that are a little confused when someone breaks their jaw, it is repaired by wiring their mouth closed for upwards of two months.
I broke my jaw in 10th grade, and during that period I lost 50 pounds because you are only able to eat liquefied foods, I imagine Ojomo lost more than that.
Here were a few quotes from Ojomo after one of the practices last week, “It was hard because when you have a passion for the sport and you're away, it takes a lot from you. It makes you think that there's much more to it when you come back. You have a much more love and respect for the game. You realize it can be taken from you at any point in time.” (http://hurricanesports.cstv.com)
On how long he was on a different diet: "I was on a different diet for about six weeks. It was only liquids. Any meats that I ate were purified. It was tough physically and mentally. I think when you don't eat, it puts a strain on your body. You feel much more weak. On being back on the football field: It's fun to play football. I haven't played football in seven months so it's fun.” (http://hurricanesports.cstv.com)
Some of the highlights from practice were Spencer Whipple (son of offensive coordinator Mark Whipple) hooking up with LaRon Byrd for a few big gains and early enrollee recruit Stephen Morris connecting with several receivers for big plays as well.
Ray Ray Armstrong has been able to make a few interceptions and looks like he is ready to have a big season in 2010.
The defense has looked good getting pressure on the quarterbacks during the team period, and the secondary has been breaking up a lot of passes overall. Even though this is spring practice that is a good sign that they are not blowing coverage assignments and playing the defensive schemes correctly.
On the offensive side of the ball with Jacory Harris out for the entire spring recovering from surgery, one of the main themes will be to get his backup solidified. A.J. Highsmith has looked decent in spring practice as well, but may potentially move to the secondary should he not win the backup job.
Spencer Whipple is an interesting case and could be a very big asset to the Miami Hurricanes football team this season. The younger Whipple walked on to the Hurricanes football team, and I expect he will be on scholarship sometime in the next few years. I have never been a fan of the scholarship hookup for coach’s children, but it is a common practice at most schools.
What makes Spencer Whipple an asset is the simple fact that he knows his father’s offense like the back of his hand, and can serve as a player coach to help his teammates fill in the blanks. The key to a successful offense is players understanding what the purpose is conceptually and with the son of the offensive coordinator on the sidelines it can only help.
Damien Berry and Mike James have both looked good as expected, but there have been rave reviews about recruit Storm Johnson coming out of Coral Gables. Johnson has been displaying his physical style and run over a few defenders in practice, at 6’ 0” 218 pounds he is making a case to get playing time next year if this is an indication of what he can do.
Johnson was clocked at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash when he arrived on campus, and Johnson was quoted as saying he has already learned 85 to 90 percent of the playbook. This is an impressive sign, a motivated player who has been there for a short time, but has already learned a majority of the offensive plays.
The offensive line has two full groups of players and Orlando Franklin has taken a leadership role. He is now strictly playing left tackle with the departure of Jason Fox, and according to Franklin this is great news for him because it is the position he feels he is the best at. Joel Figueroa is currently out with injury, but is expected to return before spring practice is over.
With all the young offensive line talent the Hurricanes have brought in, the coaches have created a sense of competition for playing time. The young players feel they have a chance to play because the coaches are focusing on the offensive line play during spring practice, and putting the best players on the field will be the goal.
So far spring practice has been encouraging; the players all seem motivated and have been working hard to get better. Of course all the pieces are not there with several players being out, but this is a great opportunity for them to improve their depth at several positions and develop the young talent.
Several former Hurricanes have stopped by practice to get an early look at what the Hurricanes are going to look like next season, which is one of the great things about Miami the former players still take an interest after they leave the program.
The Hurricanes will have eleven more practices before the March 27 spring game; they will have a scrimmage on March 11 that will be open to the public.