Miami returned to spring practice on Monday following a week off, as they continue to work towards a rebound season in 2015 despite having the toughest schedule in the ACC. Light workouts and early scrimmages have given way to tougher practice sessions as the Hurricanes approach their spring game on March 28th. This week also brought the first draft of the Miami depth chart, a very early but important inside look at head coach Al Golden’s team on each side of the ball. The listing was predictable in some areas, but surprising in others, with some quality players sliding to second on the depth chart.
The most glaring omission from the Hurricanes starting corps may have been at running back, where running back Gus Edwards — not Joe Yearby — features atop the first depth chart of the spring. Yearby was thought to have the inside track at replacing the departing Duke Johnson, thanks to both his incredible skill set and solid performance in limited action last season. Edwards is generally thought to be a valuable third down and short yardage back, as opposed to a feature back like Yearby, but Golden appears to have other plans, at least at this early stage of the season. In reality, Yearby will likely leapfrog ahead of Edwards by the beginning of the season, and both backs should see plenty of carries respectively.
Redshirt senior Rashawn Scott continues his quest to finish an injury-plagued tenure at Miami on a high note, as he has turned an impressive spring practice into a top spot on the receiving depth chart. Following him in the receiving corps top three are sophomore Tyre Brady and junior D’Mauri Jones. Noticeably absent is Stacy Coley, a speedy receiver who seems more at home on special teams returning kicks, instead of hauling in receptions.
Fewer surprises crept up on the defensive side of ball, with the biggest perhaps coming at rushing lineman. Al-Quadin Muhammad, returning from a suspension last season, was relegated to second on the depth chart behind Trent Harris, despite a solid performance this spring. Also dropping down the depth chart on the front seven was linebacker Tyriq McCord. McCord has missed time this spring with what was termed a minor knee injury and may still reestablish himself as the chief competition with Darrion Owens as camp progresses.
Deon Bush passed on an opportunity at the NFL to return to Miami, but will take a backseat at safety to Jamal Carter, at least for the time being. The other safety position belongs to senior Dallas Crawford, who has improved immensely this spring. Also in the secondary, Corn Elder has finally jumped to the top of the cornerback spot with the departure of Ladarius Gunter. Incumbent Tracy Howard has maintained his stranglehold of the other corner position across from Elder.
The Hurricanes already sit in a more comfortable position than a year ago when they weren’t sure what quarterback would be running the offense for them in 2014. Brad Kaaya emerged as the starting quarterback, putting up spectacular numbers as a freshman. Despite losing mainstay offensive weapons like Johnson at running back, and receiver Phillip Dorsett, Kaaya might not experience the drop off in production people would expect. He has a skill set and poise well beyond his years, along with several speedy and talented weapons on offense looking to step up and take some pressure off of him.
Between the strides they hope to make this season, and the way next year’s recruiting class is shaping up, Miami clearly has eyes on being something special in the not too distant future. Whether Al Golden is around to see the fruits of his labor is another matter. Golden and the Hurricanes will have to turn this solid spring camp into better than last season’s 6-7 mark if he hopes to survive the mounting pressure and keep his job.