Miami Hurricanes – Is Offensive Line Biggest Question Mark?

It has been an exciting and clarifying week for the Miami Hurricanes football team.

Thankfully the clarification has kept Hurricanes social media, especially Twitter, in mid-season form.

 

Manny Diaz named Jarren Williams the starting quarterback on Monday to much celebration and debate.

Now that QB1 is finally out of the way, the focus shifts back to other position battles.

Hopefully offensive line coach Butch Barry can find the right formula before August 24th. Barry is in his first year in Miami after being on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff last year.

With the regular season set to open in less than two weeks, an important group is still coming into focus.

 

The once dominant offensive line at Miami has been mired with inconsistency for several years it seems.

Plenty of talent has been available, but cohesiveness and stability in the group has been an issue.

Corey Gaynor will be the starting center and developing chemistry with Williams will be crucial.

Gaynor improved as last year progressed and hopefully the redshirt sophomore can continue to grow and anchor the line.

Donaldson Moving Left?

Navaughn Donaldson impressed in 2018 and was asked to do a lot by the previous coaching staff.

He showed versatility as he started multiple games at both right guard and right tackle.

Standing at 6-foot-6 and listed at 345 pounds, he helped lead many massive gains on the ground last year.

His strong work continued in pass protection as well and Miami was better in the six games he started at right tackle to start the campaign.

Donaldson’s ability and willingness to shift along the line gave him valuable experience and he will need to be a force inside again this season.

He may end up at left guard which will be important since the blind side spot is still a question mark. The former freshman All-American is perhaps the most talented of the group.

Shuffling Deck Continues

Left tackle is an interesting spot to predict to say the least.

Freshman Zion Nelson from Sumter, SC has put himself in the mix for a starting role.

After putting on over 50 pounds, Nelson has transformed from a low rated prospect to a contender for the most important spot on the line.

His path to the Miami Hurricanes program was not direct, only a last minute de-commit from Appalachian State sent him to Coral Gables.

The fact he is in consideration for starting left tackle shows his dedication and ability.

Nelson will have to hold off Tommy Kennedy, Jr., a redshirt senior grad transfer from Butler University.

Kennedy signed with the Hurricanes in December, 2018 and was at the time projected to be the future starter at left tackle.

However after a lackluster spring his role is uncertain.

The step up in competition may be a factor for Kennedy.

Need the Right fit for Right Side

On the right side of the line the tackle spot there is also a question. Kai-Leon Herbert and John Campbell have both been getting reps with the ones.

Campbell, a redshirt freshman, was a highly rated recruit from Orlando and is listed at 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds. He appeared in four games last year for the Hurricanes.

Herbert is a redshirt sophomore who played at American Heritage in Plantation. A consensus four-star prospect out of high school, the former Michigan commit changed course. He could slot in as a swing tackle or backup at the guard spot as well.

Cleveland Reed is another to watch in the guard race, the 6-foot-3, 313 pound bruiser was another highly coveted prospect out of Fort Meade, Florida. He had offers from top programs such as Clemson and Ohio State.

Scaife Adds More Versatility

Rounding out the candidates on the right side is sophomore DJ Scaife. Like Donaldson, Scaife played extensively at both guard and tackle in the 2018 season as a freshman. He projects more as a natural tackle which would allow Reed or Herbert to drop inside to guard.

Scaife was the starting right tackle in the Pinstripe Bowl and is the frontrunner to hold down that spot again this season. Given the lack of experience at other interior positions his versatility may be needed as the season wears on.

 

Predicted Week Zero Offensive Line

LT: Nelson

LG: Donaldson

C: Gaynor

RG: Reed

RT: Scaife

 

The Hurricanes really struggled to score points last year.

It will be imperative that Barry and OC Dan Enos get this talented group to be a cohesive unit. Especially with an inexperienced quarterback under center.

Follow us on Twitter @SportsWaveDave and @5ReasonsSports for more great Miami Hurricanes news.

Check out the 5 Rings Canes podcast for exclusive insider content.

It’s all about The U!!!

 

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