Miami Hurricanes Football: Breaking Down Position to Watch in Spring Practice

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2013

Miami Hurricanes Football: Breaking Down Position to Watch in Spring Practice

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    Depth chart competitions have been in full force in Miami since the Hurricanes football team started spring practice at GreenTree Practice Fields on March 2.

    Members of head coach Al Golden's talented squad are fighting for starting roles on both sides of the ball.

    With that said, the outside linebacker position is the biggest battle in my mind.

    Yes, the defensive tackles remain a mess, but an injury, suspension and dismissal have made the OLB in an interesting competition.

    Here is a breakdown of the position to watch in spring practice.

    Note 1: The university is currently on spring break, therefore no practices are being held this week.

    Note 2: All statistics courtesy of HurricaneSports.com.

Favorites

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    Denzel Perryman

    Perryman earned six starts as a freshman and was a First-Team Freshman All-America selection by CBSSports.com.

    But as a sophomore, Perryman only matched his six starts due to injuries.

    Perryman still tallied 69 total tackles and is currently listed as the starting weak-side linebacker.

    According to The Miami Herald, he is also wearing a black jersey in practice, which signifies the hardest workers this offseason.

    Tyriq McCord

    McCord was recruited as a defensive end and most often used in 2012 as a third down speed-rusher.

    Although he was on the field a limited amount of snaps, his 3.5 sacks ranked second on the team.

    Golden made the choice to move McCord to outside linebacker and is currently listed as the second-string strong-side linebacker.

Players to Watch

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    Alex Figueroa

    Figueroa has an early jump on many members of the 2013 recruiting class as an early-enrollee.

    The Hurricanes have only made it through offseason conditioning including the vaunted UTough training program, but Figueroa has already earned a starting position on the first release of the depth chart.

    He currently sits above McCord on the depth chart at strong-side linebacker, but he probably will not hold that spot down for the entire offseason.

    With that being said, Figueroa is also wearing a coveted black jersey and it is not something to be overlooked.

    Tyrone Cornelius

    He had been primarily a special teams player his first two years, but Cornelius made his mark with a breakout season in 2012.

    Cornelius earned the first three starts of his career and finished the season with 29 total tackles and three pass break-ups.

    The senior was listed as the second-string weak-side linebacker behind Perryman.

Wild Card

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    JaWand Blue

    Blue will be a freshman this season after redshirting in 2012.

    I highlighted Blue as an under-the-radar player to watch in spring practice last week, and my opinion hasn't changed in seven days (good thing, right?).

    It will be interesting to see what Blue can do with injuries hurting the 'Canes at OLB this spring.

Injuries

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    Speaking of injuries, the Hurricanes have eight players—including two outside linebackers—sitting out of spring practice.

    Thurston Armbrister

    Armbrister started the first game of his career in the season opener against Boston College in 2012.

    Following an eight-game hiatus from the starting lineup, he returned for the final three games of the season.

    He finished his sophomore season 2.0 tackles for loss and 40 total tackles.

    Armbrister is being held out of spring practice due to an undisclosed injury, according to The Miami Herald.


    Gabe Terry

    Terry appeared in seven games, made five tackles and blocked a punt against Virginia Tech last season for the 'Canes.

    Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald wrote an interesting story about Terry and his mother soon after the blocked punt.

    Terry may not have been a front-runner to begin with, but the injury doesn't help his chances for playing time.

    The sophomore is out of practice due to a foot or leg injury.


Suspension

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    Eddie Johnson

    Ah yes, the sophomore stud turned distraction.

    He made the massively important goal-line stand in the win over Georgia Tech in 2012 and was a mainstay on the outside for most of the season making eight starts.

    Despite missing two of the final three games, Johnson finished with 59 total tackles.

    Since then, Johnson has been suspended indefinitely and as of this writing is not listed on the roster, but that doesn't mean it won't change.

    However, one new minor issue will more than likely lead to his dismissal from the team.

    Update (March 12, 10:23 p.m.)

    Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald broke the news that Johnson is no longer enrolled at the school. 

    This leaves the Hurricanes with the seven previously mentioned outside linebackers.