With the Miami Hurricanes opener less than a week away, there are still some question marks at various positions. It seems that this is an opportunity for some of the talented freshman to make their way up the depth chart.
With the absence of Seantrel Henderson during most of camp, freshman RT Ereck Flowers has already secured the starting job vs. Boston College.
“He’s got really good feet for a big man, and he’s got lateral quickness,” Golden said. “He’s so smart for an offensive lineman, for a freshman.”
CB Tracy Howard has been practicing with the first team starters and expected to make an immediate impact this season. S Deon Bush is battling Kacy Rodgers for the starting safety spot and CB Antonio Crawford is expected to compete for a starting spot as well.
According to a UM official, “Bush is very physical, knows what he’s doing and isn’t prone to a lot of mental mistakes that others have made.”
Howard is by all the means the crown jewel of the ‘Canes 2012 class. According to Howard he has four goals that he will strive to achieve: “I want to earn a starting job as a freshman. I want to be a freshman All-American. Hopefully I’ll be on the Jim Thorpe list (award given to the best defensive back) as a junior. And I want to push Brandon McGee so hard by him knowing he has someone on his tail. That will push him to go in the first round next year. I feel like whatever I set my mind to, it’s going to happen.”
Howard said that he sees similarities between himself and all-time great CB Charles Woodson. Not a bad comparison to have.
Also making an impact on the defensive side of the ball is DE Jelani Hamilton and speedy pass-rusher Tyriq McCord. However, according to Golden “the freshman ends have been up and down.”
Freshman LB Raphael Kirby suffered a knee injury which will have him out until at least mid-season.
LB Gabe Terry is a former Nebraska state wrestling champion who “plays as hard as anyone on our team,” according to Golden. Terry’s life has been full of ups-and-downs and his father is currently serving a life sentence for murder.
Look for freshman wide receivers Malcolm Lewis and Herb Waters to see the field this year. Lewis will be utilized most in the red zone and Waters is “fast, smooth and elusive,” said offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.
RB Duke Johnson has thus far lived up to the hype. He is likely the most explosive player on the ‘Canes offense. Much like Lamar Miller, expect big things to happen when the ball is in Johnson’s hands. Said Johnson, “Everybody expects big things out of me, I’m going to give what I’ve got. I’m used to it. I like it.”
So what makes the 2012 class different from the one’s we have seen before? Golden’s 2012 class brings a passion to the field that was nearly lacking in the Coker/Shannon era. This class is hungry. It is their mission to overthrow the starting juniors and seniors and they seek an immediate turn-a-round. Contending for an ACC Championship is expected by players and fans alike. These guys are not afraid of competition and they understand the importance of challenging the older guys on the team.
Golden and company have gone back to recruiting south Florida, a philosophy that has made the Miami brand what it is today. They want kids who want to play for the home team. They want kids who want to put their city back on the map.
Golden is depending on his youngsters this year. The Hurricanes have 29 freshman listed on their roster, many of which are expected to contribute.
“I told the team and I will tell the coaches that there is no classification by age this year,” Golden said. “There is too many young players in the program.”