The Hurricanes’ staff had possibly their best recruiting cycle with the class of 2014, largely due to the fact that they weren’t dealing with NCAA clouds anymore. They were able to put together a deep class, and many people believe that a lot of the guys they brought in are finally “Miami caliber” players. The class involved some JUCO transfers, but in this list, we’re going to strictly focus on three true freshmen who are capable, and could have a big impact with the 2014-2015(?) Canes. We’ll know more about these guys once camp starts next Tuesday, but until then, lets speculate. Also, this list does not imply that these four guys are the only freshmen ready to make an impact, just the three that I think will have an immediate impact.
Anthony Moten [Defensive Tackle; 6'4 295 lbs]
Well, I’m sure that you can figure out why Anthony Moten made this list. It’s not secret that the defensive tackle position has been a weak spot with this defense, and unless they find a guy that can hold down the middle, the defense won’t be successful. Moten was a four-star recruit out of St. Thomas Aquinas high school, and he’s regarded as the most talented guy brought in at his position in this class (Courtel Jenkins and Joe Brown were the other freshmen brought in.) At 6’4, 295 pounds, it seems like Moten could step in and play, especially considering nobody has established themselves as “the guy.” In a perfect world, Moten plays a good number of snaps and develops while other guys step up. Unfortunately, we do not know what we’re going to get out of that position. Fans are hoping JUCO transfer Michael Wyche is the answer, or guys like Earl Moore and Corey King can finally break through. But those are all “ifs” and I’m sure fans are tired of “If’s”. The St. Thomas Aquinas product has a really good chance of playing time right from the get-go with a good showing at camp, and Canes fans are hoping that he can establish himself as that guy, so he can help solidify the position that has been scrutinized for a long time.
Joseph Yearby [Running Back; 5'9 180 lbs]
Once Duke Johnson went down against FSU, the running game struggled. Once that happened, the team relied on an inconsistent passing attack led by Stephen Morris, who seemed to be playing on one ankle for most of the season. Dallas Crawford was the premier back for the Canes, with Gus Edwards getting the backup carries. Crawford is now playing safety and Edwards is seen mostly as a goal-line power back. With all that being said, the Canes are looking for another playmaker to help remove some of the heavy load Johnson dealt with prior to his injury. Joseph Yearby has the chance to be that guy. He was a highly-touted running back out of Miami Central high and he shared the backfield with another highly-touted recruit in Dalvin Cook. Cook received most of the national praise because of his home-run ability, but a lot of people might say that Yearby had better running back qualities than Cook. Yearby, like Johnson, suffered a broken ankle, and he started to get overlooked. The staff will give Yearby a lot of chances during camp to earn his reps behind number eight, but they’ll also try and ease him in. I expect Gus Edwards to get most of the backup carries at the start of the season, but I don’t think it’ll take long for Yearby to get those snaps and split the load with Duke, which would create a pretty remarkable 1-2 punch.
Chad Thomas [Defensive End; 6'5 255 lbs]
This is also another guy who nobody should be surprised to be on this list. At 6’5 255 pounds, he’s pretty much already a grown man. The Booker T. Washington standout was probably Miami’s biggest get this past class, holding off the likes of FSU and Alabama. Thomas has the potential and ability to be a program-changing player for the Canes, and that’s something people should be absolutely excited about. I’m really excited to see what Thomas can do when camp gets started, but as I go through twitter, most people expect him to be a huge contributor to this team from day one, if not a starter. I don’t know about being a starter, but it’s pretty much a guarantee that he’ll be a lot of playing time because of his ability to rush the quarterback. And we all know the Canes need help in that department. Also, I would take Chad Thomas’ music over all of those guys on that hilarious FSU rap video.
Braxton Berrios [Wide Receiver; 5'9 185 lbs]
Braxton Berrios quickly became a fan favorite. He was open about recruiting guys over to Miami while he was committed and people always seem to love the white receiver (me included.) Berrios is a really good wide receiver with great quickness and hands, and finds a way to get open. He played pretty much the entire offense for his high school team in North Carolina and he’s one of those guys that you want to just throw the ball to and say “go make a play.” Berrios was an early-enrollee in January, but he tore his ACL during the Under-Armour All-American game. The fact that he was in the game is impressive enough, but he also scored a touchdown on that torn ACL, which is ridiculous. That just shows you the type of mean streak the kid plays with. The wide receiver position has a bit of a logjam (which is a terrific problem), but the one thing Berrios has going for him, is that there’s really nobody else on the team that plays the way he does. With a new quarterback trying to pick up as many first downs as he can, Berrios could emerge as a really good third-down short yardage playmaker. No, he’s not Wes Welker. He’s Braxton Berrios and hopefully he can stay healthy and have a productive freshmen campaign, because we all know the fans would all love that.