Final pre-season checklist for the 'Canes
The dog days of summer are in full swing. The two-a-days are done, fall camp is coming to a close, classes are underway and the FAMU Rattlers are less than a week away. 'Canes football is once again upon us. There's enough hype surrounding the 'Canes to make even Stephen Strasburg blush and the 2010 'Canes are hoping not to blow their season like the aforementioned Strasburg's elbow tendon!
Just a few things for Shannon and Co. to shore up before the warm up against FAMU.
Shore up the Linebacker position
Given the tradition at the position, Randy must be squirming just a little with the lack of depth at Linebacker. Sean Spence is slotted at the Will spot and looks to rebound from a subpar sophomore campaign. Proven fifth year senior Colin McCarthy may or may not move to the Mike postion after senior Kylan Robinson failed to impress during fall camps. As it sits now, the September 2nd starting line up will probably have McCarthy playing the middle and Ramon Buchanon playing strong side. The absolute lack of depth at this position is scary. "We're just trying to get the best three guys on the field" is what Linebackers coach Michael Barrow said in response to the inquisition of McCarthy at middle. In my opinion they are going to struggle to get there. Ramon Buchanon looks to be the choice at Sam, but should any of these guys go down with injury, this squad is in trouble.
Running backs are like models, you can never have to many with "Super" status waiting to perform for you! The 'Canes are absolutely loaded with talent in their backfield. The hardest thing for Randy to do is sort it all out. When Shannon let it slip that had it been game day, the three backs would be Mike James, Damien Berry, and Lamar Miller, the obvious question was asked. "In that order?", was the media's question. "C'mon man you guys know me well enough" was Randy's response. I don't think even Randy knows what he is going to do. In my personal opinion he should redshirt Graig Cooper, an option that Shannon has said will be entirely up to Cooper. This will give Coop another year to fully heal and give him a full season of games to increase his draft status, as it sits now, he would be lucky to get in the backfield by game six. Storm Johnson should also redshirt. In my opinion Johnson is the best talent in the 'Canes backfield and we should want him around as long as possible. It would also be nice to see what the 2014 'Canes offense looks like with Teddy Bridewater, Seantreal Henderson, and possibly Sammy Watkins or Kelvin Benjamin or Nick O'Leary or all three joining Storm Johnson (a boy can dream can't he?_ )That leaves Mike James, Damien Berry, and Lamar Miller as the 3 back rotation, giving the 'Canes an unbelievable one, two, THREE punch of size and speed. As of late Eduardo Clements has been returning kicks and Lee Chambers has been playing defense in practices, proving as in the past that Shannon isn't afraid to try talent at new positions.
Get Seantrel up to speed!.....pretty please!
The Black Marlin of a catch that is Seantrel Henderson appears to be coming along nicely. In practice he stands out on size alone with his 6'8" 350 lb. frame. Point blank, we need Henderson in the line up. The line is thin at depth and under experience. Although this line is being called the biggest Randy has seen, they lack game experience and are young. Although Henderson starting would add to that dilemma, I just think that he would add something to the unit that nobody else on the roster could, especially with Joel Figueroa going down last week. You can't deny Henderson's talent, and I think after all the hype surrounding him, let's throw him to the fire, he obviously loves the spot light and deserves a sink or swim attitude.
Get and Stay Healthy
This team could have been special LAST YEAR but notable injuries to Sean Spence, Jacory Harris, and a slew of other key players put a serious damper on the season. From all accounts the effort was put in during the off season in the weight room, but so far this pre-season Laron Byrd, Joel Figueroa, Jojo Nicholas, and other key players have missed practices to injury. Of the three the 'Canes can ill afford to see Figueroa go down. The 6'6" 330 lb senior is only one of two upper classmen on the 'Canes line. Along with fellow senior and projected first rounder Orlando Franklin, the two tackles will need to draw on all four years experience to mentor and lead the young 'Canes line and keep J12's jersey clean.
Have fun but stay focused!
J12 is a natural born leader and a seriously likable character! He has this team in the palm of his hand with his easy going personality and ice cold approach to pressure situations. This season he needs to take that next step to become the Ed Reed of this class. I want to see more intensity on the sidelines during games, get in the line's face when they miss a block, get in the receiver's face when they drop a ball then after the game, it's back to play station and sponge bob re-runs! This kid has the potential to be a Hurricane great, and I think this year he gets it done. I love how cool he is during the game, and his natural flow. If he can just introduce a little intensity in the huddle to his charisma in the locker room, Ice Chocolate can lead this team to greatness.