Anatomy of a Roster- Miami Hurricanes

Anatomy of a Roster- Miami Hurricanes

Lance Roffers
The calendar has turned to 2020 and the 2019 season is mercifully behind us. The only football still being played is a sobering reminder of how far our Hurricanes have to go to reach the mountaintop. Dan Enos and his “Spread Coast” has been relieved of duties while Butch Barry and his insidious “Jump Sets” have gone on to other opportunities.

Rhett Lashlee is bringing his version of the Air-Raid offense to the Gables. Garin Justice will try to bring justice to the Miami OL legacy. The early period signing class has all put pen to paper and mostly enrolling early. As fans turn their attention to what’s next, I wanted to break down the anatomy of the roster and how it is built. What does it look like moving forward, and where does it need augmentation?

Scholarship Limits

If you include the recent signees, Miami currently has 75 players on scholarship. With the NCAA limit of scholarships at the FBS level being 85, this would seem to imply that Miami can sign 10 additional players to scholarships. I’ll detail the breakdown of the 75 players in more detail as I walk through the roster below.

There is an additional restriction outside of the 85-scholarship limit at any one time and that’s the fact that a team can only sign 25 new counting scholarships per year. This is what really hurts Miami this cycle and here’s why: last season Miami signed 17 recruits, but because of the transfer additions, ended up at 25 counters. Asa Martin, Bubba Bolden, Tate Martell, Trevon Hill, Chigozie Nnoruka, Jaelen Phillips, Ousman Traore, KJ Osborn all counted against last year’s counter limit.

Additionally, Miami had only three of the freshmen last year enroll early (Jeremiah Payton, Jahfari Harvey, Zion Nelson). Freshmen who enroll early are allowed to be counted towards the previous years’ 25-counter maximum (provided there is room). The 2018 class added 23 recruits, but Venzell Boulware came in as a grad transfer and brought the class to 24, giving Miami one counter towards that class and with the dominoes moving Miami to have the ability to sign 26 players in this class.

The 2017 class signed 24 recruits, then added George Brown as a graduate transfer, bringing that years’ class up to the maximum 25-counter limit. Because of sanctions that ended in 2016, Miami could only sign up to 22 players in that class. They signed 17 freshmen, took Gerald Willis as a transfer, then added graduate transfer Adrian Colbert, meaning they could roll three scholarships into the 2015 class. The sanction years class took their full allotment of 22 players and maximized the roll-back option to its fullest so trickle trail ends here.

This brings us back to the fact the maximum Miami can sign in this class is 26 new counter scholarship players. Miami has applied for an additional waiver to allow for one additional player due to Asa Martin leaving in the same semester he enrolled, but I am operating under the assumption that waiver will not be granted and Miami will be limited to 26 new counters for this cycle.

Whenever you see the potential of taking a marginal addition to the roster it’s important to remember the impact that addition can end up having down the road. If they had it to do over again, I wonder if Miami would sign Asa Martin, George Brown, and Ousman Traore again? For me, I wouldn’t be taking any non-graduate transfers unless they are expected to be major impact players due to the impact it has on the roster composition.

Methodology

I’ve mapped out where each player is at each position group for the years moving forward (2020-2023) and tried to rate what level of player they are. Additionally, I’ve tried to identify players who are draft eligible in which season, which players are at-risk for departure, and bolded the seniors in each class.
Capture.PNG

For each position group I’m also trying to identify the urgency with which a grad transfer is needed to bolster the positional group, along with some of my favorite options.

QB:

The position that gets the most focus, for obvious reasons, had its share of ups and downs in the 2019 season. With a new OC and plenty of unrest, you could see this position going any number of directions. It is my belief that Jarren and Kosi are both players who have shown they can be solid starters, but have shown neither the consistency nor the maturity to be relied upon moving forward. Tate is not a QB for me and should make the full-time move to WR.
QB.PNG


Future

With Tyler Van Dyke joining the QB room (red font means early enrollee), you could see as many as three of these QB’s transfer out. I suspect the actual number will turn out to be one, but with the maximum counter rules impacting the options that Miami has, if all three were to transfer out at once, Miami would be left with a true freshman QB and a redshirt freshman who was beaten out by a walk-on last year in Peyton Matocha. For the immediate future of the program, it is imperative that TVD gives Miami a dependable QB option. I do not expect Matocha to stick around long-term at Miami now that Enos has left and the fact he is a Texas player, but that is merely conjecture on my part.

Need for Graduate Transfer- Extremely High

At each position I will have a section at the end talking about the need for a graduate transfer at that position. This is exactly what the coaches are doing at this moment; assessing major needs, identifying positions that the team is most at-risk, and working to allocate remaining scholarships effectively.

With the aforementioned risk to transfers from the experienced holdovers, it is my belief that Miami needs to fortify the QB room and take a grad transfer that fits what Coach Lashlee is looking for. Top candidates:

KJ Costello- Stanford QB has the intelligence, athleticism, and accuracy to perform at a high level in this system. Maybe more importantly, he is the type of mature QB that the rest of the room needs to learn and grow from. It is my understanding Miami has reached out and he’s most likely my #1 realistic target.

D’Eriq King- This one is a seamless fit from an experience standpoint, as King ran a similar pace-and-space offense at Houston. He hasn’t officially announced he is transferring at this point, but he has time. He immediately jumps to the top if he puts his name in, as he is a dynamic talent who would flourish in Lashee’s offense. There would be tons of competition for this one, though.

Anthony Brown- Another player who has some experience in an offense similar to what Lashlee ran at UConn (run heavy, power spread). Would most likely be an upgrade over what Miami currently has, but would also bring much needed maturity and is familiar with the ACC thanks to his time at Boston College. The fact that he struggles in the quick passing game makes him a questionable fit if Lashlee looks to run the Air-Raid mash-up offense that he ran at SMU. Not my choice of candidate.

RB:

DeeJay Dallas is off to the NFL and Lorenzo Lingard is off to the Gators. Now Miami is left to rebuild the position with one experienced player and two true freshmen.

Last season, SMU ran the ball 534 times compared to Miami’s 406. That’s an additional 128 carries at a position that is physically demanding and prone to injury. Looking at Miami’s depth at this position right now is scary.
RB.PNG

I’m not sure how anyone can feel comfortable heading into the 2020 season with a new power spread offense that is predicated on pace-and-space with four scholarship RB’s. One of them being Robert Burns, who has proven nothing at this level, and two true freshmen who have to learn the college game.

Isaiah Campbell is a nice practice player- if he returns- but not a game level player to date.

Need for Graduate Transfer- High

Miami simply cannot find itself in a position of relying two RB’s in-season. Burns previously had a long injury history and is difficult to count on. I’d be on the lookout for a grinder at the RB position. Someone who is adept at the “dirty yards” and keeping the offense on schedule. The problem is that the grad transfer market is thin right now. Look for more candidates to emerge after spring practices bring a dose of reality for certain players. Top candidates:

Martell Pettaway- From new OL coach Garin Justice’s alma mater, he is a consistent RB who is a scheme fit.

WR:

If there is one position that underscores the changes in this offense, it is at WR. Players will be asked to run a different route tree, speed up their internal clock for when the ball is coming out, and get off physical press-man coverage more efficiently and create separation. This position is one that brings a lot of nervous energy.
WR.PNG

Whereas the previous positions at least have one player to fill the minimum requirements for starting players, WR has not demonstrated that ability at all. The loss of KJ Osborn and Jeff Thomas leaves this position short on both production and experience. It is difficult to run a pace-and-space offense with a lack of WR’s, but here we are. One positive is that all three of the WR recruits are going to enroll early and get much needed time in the weight room, classroom, and in their playbooks. I might even be generous in naming Dee Wiggins as a solid starter, but he made nice strides last year. The hope is that the light comes on for Pope in this offense.

Need for Graduate Transfer- Extremely High

If I were running the program, WR would absolutely be a high need for me on the grad transfer market. It would need to be the right player to add to that room and lead by example in the weight room and on the practice field. Top candidates:

Kobay White- Strong, productive, experience in the ACC, possible package with Anthony Brown?

Dee Anderson- Was suspended for the season by LSU, so that would need checked out. Two years of eligibility for the 6’6” former 4-star recruit.

Tarik Black- Former highly-touted recruited had injuries derail a couple of seasons and then was passed on the depth chart. Talented, but does he want it?

Michael Young- Notre Dame transfer has kick return experience and produced when not injured for the Irish.

TE:

If there is one position where Miami looks to be set moving into 2020, it’s at TE. It will be exciting to see the creative ways that Coach Lashlee can use Brevin Jordan, Will Mallory and co.
TE.PNG

Need for Graduate Transfer- None

OT:

The struggles at this point have been well-documented. Miami placed with the dregs of college football in pretty much any metric you want to name for offensive line play. The culprit could fall namely at the feet of the LT position, where college football focus named Miami’s Zion Nelson the lowest-rated LT in the nation. Thrusting a true freshman LT who weighed 240 pounds at enrollment is always a dicey proposition. Adding in that he struggled with Shawn Walker in the spring game, you can see how things went awry. At RT Delone Scaife brings a certain amount of credibility, but depth was non-existent as John Campbell flopped when given the chance to play RT, and no other player on the roster proved even a viable option at the position.
OT.PNG

Looking at the colors for this position tells you everything you need to know about what past recruiting classes have been like.

Need for Graduate Transfer- Defcon 1

Miami absolutely has to make it apparent to any competent LT out there that they have a spot ready and waiting for them. An injury to DJ Scaife would have us in dire straits immediately. This is the spot that new OL coach Garin Justice has to make his mark immediately. Top candidates:

Devin Cochran- Starting LT in the SEC gets your attention and Cochran should be the top target for this staff immediately. At 6-7, 305, he has the length to succeed in this system, which relies more on mirroring and wall-off blocking rather than sheer size and force. Any program that needs a T will be calling on Cochran though. Had a 68.3 grade from College Football Focus. DJ Scaife was graded at 68.0 for reference.

Coy Cronk- If Cochran is the top choice, Cronk is 1B. Cronk was an All-Freshman Big-10 selection, then produced 40 straight starts in the Big-10. He’s not an elite player, but he is a plug-and-play option that will have his pick of schools.

Devery Hamilton- The third LT with starting experience at a P5 school still on the board is Hamilton, out of Stanford. He’d be third on my list, but with starting experience and having the type of build that works in this offensive system (long and athletic), he’d be another priority on my board.

I would absolutely go all-out to make sure that I land one of these three players and would shy away from players at the G5 level after seeing Tommy Kennedy bomb so badly at this level (obviously came from a much lower level). After watching your LT grade out 130-of-130 by a national grading service, you simply can’t go into next season without an alternative.

IOL:

The guard position was certainly not excellent, but the position looks much better than the tackle position does. It’s also the position with no players who will be here in 2023, so there is a need for developmental depth.
OG.PNG

Miami needs another player to emerge as decent depth, as the three starters on the interior are all solid. That’s contingent on Donaldson getting in shape and healthy (word is he tore his ACL late in the season). If he does, Miami has a decent foursome, with Clark able to slide to C if needed.

Need for Graduate Transfer- Medium

Adding a graduate transfer here would be fine, but not as necessary as at T. Miami has a recruit committed, in Willie Moise, who I believe is best served to playing guard if he ends up signing here. Top candidates:

Henry Hattis- The story is fairly well-known by now that his father played baseball at Miami. The Stanford transfer has played all over the OL in his time in college and would make for excellent insurance in case Donaldson doesn’t get in shape, or Clark is needed elsewhere. He is a wall-off blocker rather than a mauler and fits what Miami wants to do in this scheme quite well as another long, lean player. Hattis is probably the only G I would take at this point.

DE:

There aren’t many positions that Miami recruits at like a contender, but defensive end is one of those positions. Over the past several years this position has been stocked with pass rushing demons who make life miserable on their opponents. Due to draft defections in recent years, Miami has a lot of unproven talent on their depth chart.
DE.PNG

I believe strongly in the potential of this group, but the fact remains that only Rousseau has proven anything at this level. There is also a strong possibility this is the last season for Rousseau at Miami and a lesser chance that this is the last season for Phillips if he performs well and stays healthy. With the need for this scheme to get pressure with their front-four, it is imperative that Miami keep this position well-stocked with talent.

Need for Graduate Transfer- Small

Miami is hosting Quincy Roche and he is probably the only player I would spend the scholarship resources on at this position that is a viable option currently. Roche would instantly make the group elite and allow Miami to bring their unproven players along slowly. Roche is a spring semester enrollee, so he would have all offseason to indoctrinate himself into the Miami defense.

DT:

Miami has had a nice run of success at this position and has set themselves up for an extended stay among the nation’s elite at DT. Miami has used the graduate transfer market in consecutive seasons at this position and has finally brought their internal options to a level that allows them not to need to go back to that well again this season. Miami redshirted all three of their freshmen last season and all should be ready for playing time in 2020.
DT.PNG

Miami has athleticism, variance among skill set and body type, and a nice blend of classes at the position. Jordan Miller continuing his ascension is the key to this position group going from good to great.

Need for Graduate Transfer- None

LB:

Injuries and misevaluations has led to Miami having a complete overhaul in their LB group in 2020. The one saving grace is that Zach McCloud decided to redshirt in 2019 and will be back to bring some experience to this group. Sam Brooks, Avery Huff, and Tirek Austin-Cave bring some much needed athleticism to the LB room.
LB.PNG

An unproven group, and I think he will see mistakes due to lack of experience and maybe a reduction in instincts, but you should also see an increase in big plays due to athleticism as well.

Need for Graduate Transfer- Low

With the move towards what is essentially a 4-2-5 defense in the way of the Striker position, Miami has enough numbers and talent to make this position work barring a rash of injuries forcing the Ryan Ragone’s of the world onto the field again. Getting Austin-Cave and Corey Flagg into the room as early enrollees makes this seem like a lower need for a graduate transfer. What this room does need is an impact talent added in the near future.

Striker:

This position is a S/LB hybrid position that was utilized to combat today’s spread offenses in college football. Miami should always have unique athletes available to them due to their location, but this position group is looking light right now with the graduation of Romeo Finley. Gilbert Frierson seems miscast as a Striker, but did have an excellent interception in the bowl game. Two true freshmen will compete for time at the position. Keep an eye on Amari Carter possibly moving to this spot as well.
Striker.PNG

Need for Graduate Transfer- Low

This position has enough options to be successful, or Miami simply choose to play more 4-3 looks with their upgrade in athleticism at the position. Due to being low on scholarships, I would go with what I have at this position and look to continue to build depth here. Practice depth could be an issue during the spring, but Keshawn Washington is an early enrollee and should have the opportunity to show what he can do early.

CB:

Coach Rumph is absolutely excellent at developing talent at this position. Give him a player who is willing to put in the work, with the requisite natural talent, and Coach Rumph will have this player improving throughout his career. The problem is that Coach Rumph has been unable to convince enough talent to make their way to Coral Gables in recent years. Repeated recruiting misses has led to Miami relying on the graduate transfer market, as well as hoping for no injuries due to a lack of depth. The loss of Trajan Bandy to the NFL draft was a critical blow to the makeup of the 2020 roster. The lone commitment at this position is a position convert who is not an early enrollee.
CB.PNG

Miami is going to go into spring practice with four scholarship cornerbacks. They will also be looking to transition to a spread offense that will frequently have more wide receivers on the field. Why does that impact the cornerback position? Because if Miami doesn’t have the bodies to practice with scholarship players, the 1st team offense will be going up against walk-ons routinely and that is not a way to build an offense that needs to hone its execution. With the pace that the offense is going to run, the lack of depth is going to hold this team back.

Need for Graduate Transfer- Extremely High

I believe Miami needs to add a freshman cornerback and a graduate transfer. At this point, both recruits will have to wait until at least May to join the program, so the spring practice issues are here to stay. Top candidates:

Greg Ross- Transfer from North Carolina has some talent, size, and familiarity with the ACC. No idea if there is any interest but he could help Miami.

Obi Eboh- Long corner, similar to Rumph himself, another Stanford transfer on this list is on the open market. He started some games for Stanford, but was not a standout.

As you can see, the graduate transfer market for corners is barren.

S:

A position I’m excited to watch in 2020 is this group with a healthy Bubba Bolden paired with the physical style of Gurvan Hall. It took Hall a while to adjust to the speed of this level, but he finished pretty strong and Bolden looked legitimate when he was healthy.
S.PNG

Keontra Smith has the athleticism that the secondary needs to see more of and Brian Balom is a quality addition.

Need for Graduate Transfer- Low

Miami has several options to help them at this spot and their starters look to be among the conferences top duos.

Specialists:

Miami returns all three scholarship specialists from this season, but news is they will be adding a fourth in graduate transfer kicker Jose Borregales. Adding him to Bubba Baxa, Louis Hedley, and Clay James gives Miami a dependable option at each spot.

Overall:
Miami currently has 75 scholarship players on their roster. With the max counter rules in place, there is nothing Miami can do to get to the 85-scholarship maximum this season. They have 26 scholarships to offer in this class, with 18 already signing. That gives Miami a total of eight scholarships to allocate as they see fit.

It is clear Miami wants to add an additional CB and OL from the freshman ranks. Assuming they’re able to do so, that lowers the remaining scholarships to six.

Miami is focused on adding a graduate transfer at the QB position, the K position, and the OL. Assuming those three are added, this leaves Miami with three scholarships. If Miami is able to land Roche, that leaves them with two scholarships to allocate to positions as they see fit.

Personally, I’d like to see a graduate transfer added at RB, WR, and CB but there doesn’t appear room to accomplish all of that. It will be interesting to see where the coaches with the remaining scholarships at their disposal.

Future:
It makes no sense this year to “cut” players from Miami because they cannot get to the 85-maximum regardless of what they do. Cutting a player like Baxa simply reduces depth and makes it appear to high school coaches that Miami will cut your players if they struggle here.

In fact, Miami has the room to bring Brian Hightower back if they feel that is in their best interest, as he would not count towards the 25-scholarship yearly maximum.

Moving forward, Miami has the opportunity to finally end the self-imposed sanctions that they have let linger with their scholarship numbers. Miami has a total of six players slated to be seniors next year; an absurdly low number. Adding several graduate transfers will up that number to an expected 11 seniors. The expectation is that at least three players will turn pro after next season (Rousseau, Brevin Jordan, unexpected declaration like most years). This brings the number up to 14 open scholarships. Traditionally, Miami loses four players each year to transfer, and I would suspect that number will be even higher. Those 18 open scholarships combined with the fact Miami expects to go into this season with around 80 scholarship players (subtracting a few transfers), you can see how next year would be the first year in several years that Miami can field a full roster, as adding 23 scholarship players would get Miami to the maximum 85-roster limit.

This has been a several year build to get Miami’s roster to a more balanced place, but keeping an eye on how each position looks moving forward, and where your risk of players leaving resides, you can see how a coaching staff is working to keep a roster healthy for the long run.
 

Comments (74)

Great post...

Couple quick thoughts or differences of opinion.

- I love how Perry supported Williams and answered the bell when called this year. I think he is more in the "solid contributor" category though, I think we've seen enough to say that. He just doesn't process things and isn't accurate enough on short stuff. Nice arm talent, but I just don't see it ANY offense

- One of the frosh backs, and one of Payton/Redding really need to be ready to be a major contributor out of fall camp this year.(I believe Worsham needs some strength/speed work and is not ready, jmo)

- Only problem with KJ Costello is I believe he can't be in til summer? He's not a statue, but isn't exactly mobile either

- Those are my exact 3 preferred grad transfer OT as well...There were one or 2 other that caught my eye. But those were main 3. Cronk was probably on pace to be a late round pick before his injury, hopefully he comes back strong.

- Also on the OL, I thought Campbell looked better at guard and played well end of year. Hopefully he takes a step forward and can start or at least be a solid #6 or #7 the rest of his career here.

- I don't think B.Jennings is terrible...I don't think he'll ever start here, but I think "needs replaced" is harsh for him...I expect to lose one of he and Steed, and maybe even Joyner to the portal at some point. Joyner is my sleeper as far as becoming a player and maybe starter here..

-"excellent developer of talent" is an exaggeration on Rumph imo...He's good, but man is he living off Adrian Colbert sliding into the 7th round. He is a decent coach and developer of talent. I'm not sure whether Blades is solid starter/or all conference type just yet. I agree he was solid this year. DJ Ivey on the other hand should be the 5th or 6th corner on a UM defense.

- I think Avery Huff gets a look at striker and I think he'll excel there and push Frierson. Can't tell me Frierson's best position isn't safety, but I haven't given up on him becoming at least as good as Finley. I think there's a chance one of Harrell or Washington stay at safety.

- If we can't bring in a GT RB this year and the injury bug bites hard...who ya got as emergency back? I'd guess Marcus Clarke, T-A-C, or Hodges. Is there a walk-on that can play?
 
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Excellent write-up. I'd only quibble with Burns and Jennings. Burns was healthy most of not all of the season I think and I actually think he looked decent in limited opportunities. As for Jennings, we've only ever seen him garbage time and scrimmages and he looked competent, at least. If he's healthy he could yet contribute.
 
Is there a safety on the roster that could possibility fill in at corner in a pinch? Wasn't Frierson originally recruited as a DB?
 
If Miami can land KJ Costello, one of the QBs can leave. Whether that is Tate moving to slot or William's or Perry bailing. They have shown nothing to date with multiple chances as far as grabbing the job.

Also we can land a solid walk on at RB or WR....it is Miami, you can hit an athlete by throwing a baseball. I wouldnt waste a scholly on a transfer there unless they were legit like Kobay White and we land a QB.
 
If Miami can land KJ Costello, one of the QBs can leave. Whether that is Tate moving to slot or William's or Perry bailing. They have shown nothing to date with multiple chances as far as grabbing the job.

Also we can land a solid walk on at RB or WR....it is Miami, you can hit an athlete by throwing a baseball. I wouldnt waste a scholly on a transfer there unless they were legit like Kobay White and we land a QB.
I'd hope for King at QB. He's everything Tater Tot was supposed to be and more.
 
Love the post. SMDH over our numbers; corner being pathetic. Senseless in SoFL when these kids are at your front door.

rumph is an amazing recruiter when he comes to keeping his job


how he isn’t replaced after such a sub par performance is head scratching
 
rumph is an amazing recruiter when he comes to keeping his job


how he isn’t replaced after such a sub par performance is head scratching
One of Manny's boys I guess
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
WR
5'9"
190
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
STR
6'3"
190
Melbourne Senior, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

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