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3 Things We Want to Know After Tonight’s Canes Scrimmage

With just 14 days remaining before the Canes head up to Orlando to face Florida, many questions still surround this team’s roster. I break down what I feel are 3 major roster questions we want to be answered by the time tonight’s scrimmage is over with. 

Question #1: The Big Uglies

Let’s start with one of the biggest surprises in camp so far. Offensive lineman Zion Nelson was once thought of as a redshirt project with good skills that would need a few years to develop, especially at a very thin 240 pounds. Fast forward a few months and that 240-pound project is now weighing 290 pounds(reported by Nelson himself) and starting at LEFT TACKLE! Yes, you heard that right, LEFT TACKLE. I said to myself, Coach Barry(Offensive Line Coach) must be challenging his guys and we will see the real starting left tackle after the first scrimmage. But I was wrong. Nelson kept his job as LT1 and it seems as though it may stay that way. That means one of two things to me – this kid is really special – or we are incredibly screwed. 

Two other guys to keep your eye on that could possibly get some playing time if Nelson can’t hold it down: Kai-Leon Herbert and John Campbell. Herbert was getting a lot of first-team reps at right tackle along with Campbell, who ended up starting on the right side during the first scrimmage. Look for one of those two to get the nod August 24th at right tackle. 

Question #2: It’s the Muddy Badger and who?

We all know that Trajan Bandy is the leader in the Canes secondary. Bandy has the opportunity to be one of the best cornerbacks in the ACC. The question is, who will emerge as the other starting cornerback? Al Blades Jr. seems to be the front runner right now to start. He took first-team reps during last week’s scrimmage and has been atop the depth chart for some time now. However, I would not put sophomore DJ Ivey too far behind. Look for today’s scrimmage to be the one that helps solidify that spot. 

The concern what’s behind those three. Young players like Nigel Bethel, Jr., Te’Cory Couch and Christian Williams will have to step up and be ready to play when their name is called. The key to this group being successful is health.

The safeties seem to be shaping up nicely. Yesterday was the first day of practice for USC transfer Bubba Bolden. The addition solidifies what is already looking like a strong group. Right now it looks like the Canes will start with Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall. Don’t be surprised if you see Junior, Derrick Smith get a lot of playing time after moving back to safety from the striker position. I’m tempted to mention Robert Knowles…nevermind.

Question #3: Who’s My Quarterback?

Who will be the Miami Hurricanes starting quarterback? I am just going to get right into it. Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos is installing a brand new offense. None of the three have played in this system before and have all had growing pains. Some days Tate Martell does a few things better than the rest. Another day N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams make some really nice throws and Tate can’t hit water if he fell off a boat. All three are doing good things and not so good things. Let’s take one thing off the table right away, experience. Those making the argument that one should get the start over the other because of experience need to stop. None of them have experience! This is a new scheme, that none have played in before. And honestly, why do fans care so much about experience? Let me know how that worked out for Tua and Sunshine. I know these guys are not Tua or Lawrence, but there are plenty of young quarterbacks in college football that help their team win. 

 

3 Canes QB's vying for the starting role.

Who wins the battle at QB? (Left to Right) Jarren Williams, Tate Martell, N’Kosi Perry.

Jarren Williams is the most accurate according to many and throws with great touch. His knock was that he wasn’t very quick on his feet until Coach Manny Diaz said he was one of the guys that ran 20 mph in testing. Can he read and dissect plays quickly? 

N’Kosi Perry can spin it. He has great arm strength, can run and escape the pocket and does like to chuck it down the field. His aggressiveness has also gotten him in some trouble before. He tends to take too many risks and makes dumb throws. Has he learned the playbook? 

Tate Martell is a leader. His leadership and moxie, I think, are what make Martell stand out. He doesn’t throw the prettiest ball but can get it there. In my mind, he is the best runner of the three. His lack of accuracy at times could be a cause for concern. However, his rapport with former Bishop Gorman teammate Brevin Jordan and Buffalo transfer KJ Osborn are definitely a good thing. 

I have a feeling Coach Diaz already knows who his guy is at quarterback. If he doesn’t, he will know tonight. The question is, will he tell the rest of us? 

 

My picks: 

Tackle   

LT- Zion Nelson

RT- John Campbell

Cornerback

Al blades, Jr. or DJ Ivey (They will split reps)

2 Deep Safety

FS- Gurvan Hall, Bubba Bolden

SS- Amari Carter or Derrick Smith (Let’s see how tonight plays out)

Quarterback

1- Tate Martell or Jarren Williams or N’Kosi Perry 

Miami Hurricanes

Miami Hurricanes: Jordan and Mallory Heirs to “TE U”?

The Miami Hurricanes continue Fall camp this week.

Head coach Manny Diaz and the Hurricanes program opened practice to the public again Monday.

 

One group that the fans will want to pay attention to is the tight end corps.

A name you will recognize from the past is hoping to continue their family legacy after a tough start.

While others will look to make their own name at “Tight End U”.

 

No Sophomore Slump in Sight for Jordan

Brevin Jordan leads the tight end group entering after a outstanding campaign as a true freshman. The 6-foot-3, 245 pound Jordan earned second-team All-ACC honors in 2018 and once again is on that watch list going into this season.

Jordan finished the year with 11 starts and was second on the team in both receptions (32) and touchdowns (4).

One of those touchdowns put the spear in FSU.

His size and athleticism are a nightmare for opposing defenses, and if he can build chemistry with whoever starts at quarterback, he could be special.

He is coming off a knee injury but all indications are he should be at full speed once the games count.

 

Another Playmaker in the Wings?

Some names are practically impossible to live up to, no matter how great you may be.

Michael Irvin is one of those names.

His son Michael Irvin, Jr. has been at Miami since 2016, but has struggled to leave his own mark on the program yet.

After little playing time as a freshman, mostly on special teams, he saw action in 12 of 13 games in his sophomore season.  He finished that year with nine receptions for 78 yards but was poised for a larger role as an upperclassman.

A knee injury completely derailed his 2018 regular season but he did manage a return in the Pinstripe Bowl to end the year.

Right now he is inline to be the backup to Jordan based on tenure, however he should be looking over his shoulder.

Irvin, Jr. may be in the mix some as the season rolls on, but does not have the same upside as Jordan or Will Mallory.

If he can stay healthy and continue to contribute on special teams, he may earn more reps on offense along the way.

 

Don’t be Shocked When Mallory Awes

Will Mallory looks the part.

Standing at 6-foot-5 he has the stature to feast in the red zone.

With the skills to finish plays and the size to get in position, Dan Enos has to be excited to let him loose.

 

Enos’s offense is known to be tight-end friendly based on his previous tenures, and Mallory compliments Jordan well as they each bring something different to the table.

Mallory could be seen as more of a deep threat up the seams, with Jordan a bit quicker over the middle and crossing.

He could be a great safety valve for the quarterback as well, with the ability to move the chains and make something happen after the catch.

If Mallory can get ahead of Irvin, Jr. on the depth chart his potential is immense.

Next up will be the wide receivers then we’ll wrap up the offense with the offensive line later in the week.

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

Make sure to subscribe to the 5 Rings Canes podcast for exclusive Hurricanes content all season long.

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Miami Hurricanes – QB’s in Spotlight as Camp Nears

The 2019 Miami Hurricanes football team will kick off Fall Camp this Friday, and one group in particular is in the spotlight.

It’s no secret there is open competition in the quarterback room, with three main contenders.

N’Kosi Perry, Tate Martell, and Jarren Williams are the three to watch, each has their own intriguing storyline.

Who Steps up?

There is no clear favorite one month from the regular season, so whoever emerges first may get the call in week one.

Jarren Williams has all the athletic tools and skills you look for at the position.

A top ranked recruit entering college, the 6-foot-2 red shirt freshman should get equal run in camp with his competitors under a new coaching staff.

Williams has great feet and a strong arm with solid fundamentals and footwork, and may be the most well-rounded of the three.

It remains to be seen where he lands on the depth chart, and that could determine his long term future with the program as well.

Incumbent Perry at no Advantage

N’Kosi Perry comes off of a 2018 season where he showed flashes, yet struggled with consistency.

Accuracy was the real problem for Perry as he completed just 50.8% of his attempts (97 out of 191) as a redshirt freshman.

There were a few highs during the season. In his first sustained game action in week three against FIU, he notched a career high 224 yards to go along with three touchdowns.

Perry and the team were riding high after a 5-0 start, but the wheels fell off for the quarterback in the second half.

Miami dropped three straight in ACC play and Perry managed only two touchdown passes in his final six games.

Perry has had some off field concerns as well which have called his maturity into question.

He did have a solid spring so it will be important for him to show continued poise and leadership, along with improved performance if he wants to secure the starting gig.

Martell the Wildcard

Adding competition and complication to the mix is Ohio State transfer Tate Martell, whose journey to Miami is well known.

Martell joined the Hurricanes via the transfer portal, something that sounds like a time machine.

It was suspenseful leading up to his arrival due to his transfer status, with that behind him he must prove he can take control and be the alpha.

One of the most hyped prospects nationally out of high school, Martell spent two years in Columbus but never took hold of the starting job.

His vocal leadership style and intensity are a breath of fresh air for the quarterback group and his teammates alike.

Martell seems like the type of personality that could galvanize a team. He doesn’t possess the same arm talent as Williams or Perry but has great mobility and excels outside of the pocket, traits that may suit him well under new OC Dan Enos.

 

In one of the more wide open quarterback competitions in recent memory, each player brings his own strengths and weaknesses to the table.

On an even playing field, it may come down to intangibles to determine who wins the starting job.

Chemistry and leadership will be a factor.

It should be an interesting battle, and one that could determine the fate of the 2019 Miami Hurricanes.

Follow us on Twitter @5ReasonsSports and @SportsWaveDave.

Check out the 5 Rings Canes podcast for exclusive Miami Hurricanes content all year long.

 

Pre-Season Watch Lists, All-ACC Mentions for Hurricanes

With the beginning of Fall Camp approaching , the Miami Hurricanes football team continues to grab attention.

Preseason watch lists are a lot of speculation, but recognition at least sets a tone of high expectations.

Miami has had several position groups mentioned in pre-season watch lists for major awards, including multiple players on the Butkus Award list.

 

Seniors Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney lead an impressive linebacker corps for the Hurricanes. Quarterman comes off a stellar 2018 season where he earned first team All-ACC honors with 82 tackles, including 14 TFL.

Not to mention he has started every game in his UM career, a streak which enters the season at 39 games.

Pinckney has also been a solid performer and a mainstay in the middle in his four years on campus. Coming off a season with 74 tackles and 11 TFL, he also earned pre-season All-ACC mentions along with tight end Brevin Jordan.

 

Jordan looks to follow a nice freshman campaign (32 receptions, 287 yards, four TD) and set the tone for a young tight end group on the rise.

Trajan Bandy joins his fellow Hurricanes on the trophy hunt, earning a spot on the Jim Thorpe Award list for best college defensive back.

 

Bandy had a breakout sophomore season in 2018 and looks to continue right where he left off.

Wearing the Turnover Chain.

Bandy led the squad with five such occasions last year.

These lists are a nice indicator of potential but really don’t mean a whole lot once the season starts.

What is shows is that the team seems to be reaching top level talent across multiple positions, on both sides of the ball.

A nice step to building elite depth on a team level.

Now let’s hope they can end the year with even more recognition.

Make sure to check out the 5 Rings Canes Podcast for in-depth Miami Hurricanes football coverage.

Hurricanes’ Running Backs big on Potential, Short on Experience

The Miami Hurricanes enter the 2019 season with many questions, as do a lot of teams.

Uncertainty at the quarterback position looms, but there is time to figure out the starter.

Meanwhile the running back room has seen a lot of transition.

Beyond entrenched junior DeeJay Dallas there are many unproven underclassmen.

Dallas led the team with 1260 all-purpose yards in a breakout sophomore campaign, and will likely be a larger part of the offense this year.

 

Then Who?

After Dallas on the depth chart there are many questions, but the answers could be exciting and productive.

Sophomore Lorenzo Lingard showed flashes in limited action as a true freshman, averaging eight yards per carry in six games. A leg injury derailed his season but the big play potential is there.

Lingard finished 2018 with 17 carries for 136 yards and two scores. including a 64-yard scamper. He was a top recruit from not only the state of Florida but nationally as well, Lingard can be an excellent compliment to Dallas with his quickness.

Camron Harris enters the year with a similar profile to Lingard, except that his season ended better than it started. Another local product out of Carol City High, Harris was a four-star prospect when he committed to the Hurricanes, he finished with 166 yards on 28 carries (5.9 avg) last season and came on late in the year.

Lingard and Harris should compete for the carries that don’t go to Dallas, each brings a change of pace to the offense. Their inexperience may be a factor, especially with a new quarterback trying to find his way as well.

Dallas is an exemplary teammate and should help mentor both, along with sophomore Robert Burns who fills out the depth chart. Burns is another highly recruited player from Miami out of Gulliver Prep.

If the Hurricanes can get complimentary contributions from their depth backs, along with another productive season from Dallas, this could be a group to watch.

 

 

Latest UM Hurricanes Recruiting Outlook

We are still a little more than half a year away from the first opportunity for many high school senior football players to put pen to paper and decide which school they look to advance their athletic and academic careers. Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz and the rest of the University of Miami staff find themselves in a very fortunate position as of now as they currently carry a lot of momentum on the recruiting trail and more success could be on the way should they accumulate the victories on the field. UM currently holds the 5th-best recruiting class in the nation for the class of 2020 and currently sit at 16 commits.

Here’s a look at the current state of Miami’s recruiting efforts:

 

Quarterback

At quarterback, Miami is set with Tyler Van Dyke, who hails from Suffield Academy in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Newly-hired quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Dan Enos is considered a quarterback guru due to his work with Tua Taigovailoa and Jalen Hurts at Alabama last season and was very impressed by Van Dyke’s arm. According to 247 Sports, he’s rated as the 9th-best pro-style quarterback in the country.

 

Running Back

Even with an already loaded running back room, Miami is still insistent on recruiting elite players at the position. Currently on the roster, Cam Davis and Deejay Dallas are interchangeably 1-2 on the depth chart with 2018 five-star recruit Lorenzo Lombard still recovering from injury. Miami also has former Auburn RB Asa Martin, who will sit out the 2019 season and has three years of eligibility remaining. As for recruiting, it only took three weeks on the job for running back coach Eric Hickson to secure the commitment of Don Chaney, the local five-star back from Belen Jesuit in Miami. Hickson is also competing for the services of Deerfield Beach’s Jaylan Knighton (considering UM, FSU, and Clemson) and Colombus’ Henry Parrish Jr. (considering UM, FSU, Utah, FAU, and Pitt.)

 

Wide Receiver

Without a doubt, wide receiver may be Miami’s best position depth-wise.  The future looks bright with the return of Jeff Thomas as well as guys like Dee Wiggins and Mark Pope, the two high-rated recruits they brought in during the 2018 cycle. Miami is still recruiting hard at the position and it has been reported that they’ve evaluated around 30 receivers nationwide. They currently have three commitments in four-star recruits Bryan Robinson (Palm Beach Central High/West Palm Beach), Marcus Fleming (Miami Northwestern), and most recently Xavier Restrepo (Deerfield Beach) but it is highly possible they add a couple more before it’s all said and done. Former Miami commitment and four-star receiver Leonard Manuel just listed Miami in his top 7 and the Canes also made the top 5 of high four-star athlete Mookie Cooper.

 

Tight End

Miami brought in Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory in 2018 and are set to have even bigger sophomore seasons, but that has not stopped the staff from pursuing elite targets at the position. Dominic Mammarelli, who hails from Naples, has been committed to the Canes for more than a year and seems solid in his commitment. The staff is looking to add one more tight end to the fold, and the big fish they hope to reel in is five-star Darnell Washington. Miami is competing with all of the big boys for Washington’s services but on top of Miami’s rich tradition with the position, one thing Miami has working in their favor is that Washington hails from the same city (Las Vegas) as Jordan and two other players on the team.

Offensive Line

The work and persistence of new OL coach Butch Barry paid off in the recruitment and commitment of Jalen Rivers, an offensive tackle from Oakleaf High in Jacksonville. Rivers is an athletic specimen at 6’6”, 330 lbs. and he also plays basketball and track. After one of Miami’s junior camps earlier this year, the Canes extended an offer and received a commitment from Vanguard (Ocala, FL) center Antonio Smith. There’s still many questions for the offensive line, including who the starters are when August 24th comes about but also the depth. It’s looking like Miami will probably take about 2-3 more linemen and their biggest target right now is Issiah Walker from Miami Norland. Walker is currently committed to South Carolina but he has been a frequent visitor to Coral Gables. His most recent visit was on Monday and it looks as if Miami’s biggest competition outside of the Gamecocks will be Florida and Florida State.

 

Defensive Line

Manny Diaz’s defensive lines have always rotated often as this keeps fresh legs in crucial games. Even with the departure of Jess Simpson to the NFL, newly-hired DL coach Todd Stroud has been able to keep all three of Simpson’s commitments: Trevon Riggins (St. Petersburg, FL, Lakewood High), Samuel Anaele (Miami, FL, Carol City High), and Willie Moise (Hollywood, FL, Chaminade-Madonna). Coincidentally, they are also Miami’s longest tenured commitments and all three seem very solid in their commitments.

 

Linebacker 

Linebacker may be Miami’s most important position for the 2020 recruiting cycle. Miami is looking to replace three seniors at the position and currently has one commit in three-star recruit AJ Mathis from Largo, FL. The Canes lost out to FSU for four-star Jayion McCluster, who happens to reside in the same city as Mathis, but Miami has not stopped its pursuits. Most recently, NJ-based Tirek Austin-Cave was on campus on an official visit and reports are that he was blown away, but he currently has a slate of four other official visits planned for the next few weeks. Miami is looking to take two more linebackers after bringing in two in 2019. This weekend, there will be two official visitors at the position in Texas-based Corey Flagg and Romello Height from Dublin, GA.

Defensive Back

Last but not least, most of the damage has been done reloading on cornerbacks and safeties. Depth and experience are factors affecting both positions, more so with cornerback. Miami only has four cornerbacks on the roster so it is imperative they add at least 2-3 this cycle. The Canes currently have South Dade four-star Jaiden Francois in the fold, who was arguably the best cornerback in Miami-Dade County in 2018. Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph in also landing the commitment of Justin Hodges from Western High in Davie. And thanks to the work of defensive coordinator Blake Baker utilizing his Louisiana ties, Miami also received a verbal commitment from Daran Branch from Amite, LA and there is a small possibility that Branch could get moved to safety. One big target at corner is Keyshawn Lawrence, who hails from Nashville, TN and has a big UM connection with former Cane CB Corn Elder as his cousin. Lawrence is slated to take his official visit to Miami the weekend of Paradise Camp on June 22nd.

It’s important to note that Miami did lose two very dependable safeties in Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine. At safety, the Canes have two commits. Francois’ teammate Keshawn Washington recommitted to the Canes not too long ago after decommitting in December. It is very likely, if not certain, that the 6’3” 190lb. Washington will get moved to the striker position, which is essentially a hybrid linebacker/safety.

An important thing to note is that in recruiting, attrition is inevitable. Miami is still after a lot of highly-rated recruits and one thing to look out down the road is a lot of lower-rated commits possibly getting “dropped” in favor of the former should the higher level recruits wait until later in the process to announce their decisions. Miami is holding their annual invite-only Paradise Camp next Saturday and there will be a plethora of recruits, both committed and uncommitted, on campus and we will provide updates as to who are the important visitors.

Paul Austria (@PaulAustria_) also contributes to Canes Insight.