Canes football is almost back as the LSU opener looms on Sunday. No better time than now to take a survey through the roster. Who's spot in the lineup is most secured?
The starting roster will be assigned a ranking and separated into tiers detailing how safe their job is, with tie-breakers being ability and depth at their position. Backups are divided based on how close they are to pushing into the starting 26 (22 Starters on offense/defense, kicker, punter, NICKEL, STRIKER).
Walter Camp, Thorpe, and Bednarik Awards watch lists, leader of the defense, Turnover Chain King… what else can you say? He’s not the most athletic or the biggest safety, but his instincts, passion, and will to win are what drives him and that’ll always play in college football. He’s a national treasure; enjoy him while it lasts.
How you build a defensive end when you construct one in the lab: 6’5” 265, incredible wingspan, athleticism off the charts, high-octane speed around the edge. Became a much more complete defensive end last season, gaining the strength to hold up against the run, while still maintaining his ability to penetrate and cause havoc in the backfield. He’s a no-doubter first round pick.
Beginning last fall at essentially fourth on the depth chart, Thriller came out of nowhere last season to establish himself as Miami’s alpha dog at corner and thrust himself into the NFL Draft Day 2 discussion, high praise for someone many pegged as a transfer candidate less than a year ago. The improvement is legitimate and he is physical with his prototypical 6’1” 205 pound build, while still showing next level ball skills (4 INT’s in 2017). Corner also has almost no established depth, so his importance to this team is paramount.
He’s a true leader in the middle for the Canes that players look to in times of peril. Once he locks on, you can trust him to make the stop, as he doesn’t miss many tackles and sheds blocks very well. This year, he’ll work on going from very good to great by making more impact plays within the defense. His value is upped even more as a true middle linebacker that can make all the reads and calls.
After an injury-plagued sophomore campaign, he’ll be coming out in 2018 with something to prove. Even in the eight games he did play, he wasn’t 100% right and his numbers took a dip from his fabulous freshman season. Still, all the ingredients are there for a monster junior year and possible early entry to the NFL. Will get bumped up higher if he lands his brother. Leader of the deepest position on the team.
Someone the coaches have said they feel is the only every-down back on the team right now. He was 34 bowl yards away from having a 1,000 rushing season after spending the first third of the year as a backup. He demonstrated the ability to not only initiate contact, but also quickly run away from it. Extra bump for the DBZ touchdown celebration.
If you’re talking huge, momentum-type plays, he arguably had the best season of the linebackers last year, flying around Manny Diaz’s defense to finish with 68 tackles, 11 TFL, and 3.5 sacks, plus an interception. At 6’1” 220 pounds, he is full of impact plays and is a heat-seeking missile into the opponent’s backfield. Along with turnovers, Diaz heavily emphasizes the “havoc stats” in particular (TFL, sacks, QB hurries) and he is his most accomplished charge in this department at LB. Has also continued to build strength and reshape his body in the off-season. Want to see more consistency.
The Canes’ most consistent O-Lineman every down. Someone you know is going to get the job done and also has the intelligence to make all the line calls and get his line organized. Even showed some position flexibility by playing right tackle in the spring for a bit. Has built himself from a low tier 3-star to a likely NFL draft pick. Respect.
Quite possibly the only player on the team that can play LT competently. Coaches are betting it all on him because there’s no other option. He has the feet to do it, but must work on his technique and balance. His confidence is through the roof right now though.
Moves up a tier after his amazing fall camp, where he started earning some serious draft buzz from NFL scouts. Playing faster than ever in his second year at the position and will team with Johnson to form a top notch safety unit.
We know he can get open on a go-route against anybody in the country. Does Miami have anybody that can hit him? Will he learn to run anything else? Been called the best player on the offense at times this spring. Burner that has star potential with a functional QB.
Question marks about how he’ll handle the transition have slowly been reduced. I don’t think he’ll be perfect, but he’s clearly a tier ahead of the other Miami O-Linemen and his talent is as massive as his size.
Has continued to develop his body. Nobody will challenge him to man the slot and he’ll also see reps on the outside on occasion. You could see the switch go on with him as it got deeper into last season. His timing and instincts for the game are unreal.
It could be argued that he’s the most important player on the team after Rosier, in terms of guys that must step up for this season to be a success. When not on the field, lock him in a room. Must continue his progress off the field. Has star potential.
Showed some improvement in fall camp and was clearly the best passer on the team. Showed he could make big plays for this team last season, but I need to see it more consistently this season. Miami has some of the best skill position talent in the country this season and will create plenty of opportunities. Can he regularly get them the ball?
Another season removed from his ACL set-back and getting buzz as an NFL talent after a successful camp, but he must play at that level every day. Can be the big-framed, red zone target to perfectly complement Richards and Thomas.
After Michael Irvin II’s injury in camp, there was no doubt who was opening up the season as a starter here. Miami has been moving him all over the field and fans will be surprised how much UM uses him this season.
He’ll help against the run and will be a liability against the pass. I’m not sold that his wrist is all the way healed and that is a serious concern for me going into the season.
20. DT Patrick Bethel, Jr.(LAST: NR)
Beat out Ford and Odenigbo to start and played well in a bit role last season. My question on him is how well can he stop the run? Out of anyone else on the team, I’ll be watching him closest against LSU.
Another that solidified his role a bit more in camp. He won’t ever be a star and he’ll struggle against the more athletic guys he goes against, but Mahoney is tough as nails and that’s something that will always win Stacy Searels over.
One of the stories of camp was his rise as a legitimate option for Mike Rumph and he has been hard to separate from in practice. His biggest weaknesses last season was getting his head around and finding the ball in the air. Well, he may never possess elite ball skills, but he at least showed he has improved there with two picks in the second scrimmage. I’m cautiously optimistic.
Really impressing at striker. Still struggles with man coverage at times, but clearly much more comfortable in the hybrid striker role than at traditional safety. The game is slowing down for him a bit and he’ll be a big help in passing situations.
He really held down the job here in fall and it didn’t seem like he was challenged all that much. Not sure if that’s more indicative of his improvement or an indictment of poor O-Line depth. Still, I think he is the starter with the most to prove going into the season as a fifth year senior that has never played a significant snap.
Has been crushing the ball and is consistently getting touchbacks on kickoffs. His leg is the real deal and he’s the clear #1 at kicker right now. That’s even with some relatively decent competition from UM’s walk-ons. Excited to see him kick week 1.
Pushing the Starters
QB N’Kosi Perry – Knocked down a peg from deity status but still QB2 and likely first up in case Rosier struggles.