Mario Cristobal likes roster blend of experience, freshmen and transfers

Oct 15, 2022; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA;AC Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2022; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA;AC Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Speaking at ACC Kickoff on Tuesday Miami head coach Mario Cristobal stated that he likes the blend of freshmen, returning veterans and transfers on the 2023 roster. Miami made over nearly half their roster entering the 2023 season. Miami brought in 26 freshmen and junior college transfers and 16 players from FBS programs.

Center Matt Lee who transferred from Central Florida, Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and safety Kamren Kinchens represented Miami at ACC Kickoff days with Mario Cristobal in Charlotte. Lee has quickly emerged as a leader on the Miami offensive line. Van Dyke gets a new start under offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.

Miami has 23 players remaining on the roster entering 2023 who preceded Mario Cristobal being hired in December 2021. The Hurricanes return 13 of the 15 freshmen they signed in 2022 and seven transfers from that class. Miami has a nice mix of returnees and players on the roster prior to Cristobal’s arrival on the roster.

Several of the newcomers are expected to be leaders for Miami. Guard Javion Cohen and Lee provide Miami with a lot of experience on the offensive line. Van Dyke told the ACC Network on Tuesday that the OL starts with Lee. Kinchens is expected to be a leader on defense after being an All-American in 2022.

"“I think what makes this roster work well is that the blend. The blend is the right percentages of the different kinds of roster make-up components. By that I mean you have some seasoned veterans that have been here that have seen a lot of football, played a lot of football.You have an elite freshman class where some guys are going to be able to contribute and be impactful members on the field while others continue to develop. Then you have some seasoned, experienced transfer portal guys that have joined our team.These guys can tell you more than anything the transitions have been seamless because we’ve been open and honest from the beginning that we are building and rebuilding. We didn’t sell any lofty expectations or any BS dreams. We’re very real about it.When you do that and you are introduced to the level of work that these guys are introduced to, it works well. The mentality, the fact that every position has legitimate competition and the level of work ethic that these guys and the guys that have come in have all put together, it’s a really good combination.The diversity of the locker room as well, it’s almost a reflection of our city, Miami, right? You see every color, ethnicity. You see it all. You see it on our team in terms of their backgrounds, in terms of the different ways they got to Miami, but with one thing in common. They like to work, and they are driven.They are internally driven and self-motivated, and it’s been fun and exciting to watch these guys work. I think they understand that the secret is out there in the dirt and to get their hands dirty and put in time and put in effort. I look forward to watching these guys get to work here in fall camp.”"

Five-star freshmen offensive linemen Francis Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola are expected to be major contributors in 2023. Mauigoa is the projected starting right tackle for Miami in 2023. Okunlola is the likely backup at left tackle to either Jalen Rivers or Zion Nelson. Defensive lineman Rueben Bain should also be in the rotation.

In addition to the major changes on the Miami roster, Mario Cristobal hired seven new coaches on the 2023 staff. Dawson will oversee new running backs coach Tim Harris Jr., wide receivers coach Kevin Beard and tight ends coach Cody Woodiel. Dawson will integrate a modified version of the air raid offense.

Lance Guidry was hired from Marshall via Tulane as the new Miami defensive coordinator. Guidry will work with defensive line coach Jason Taylor who was promoted during the offseason after being an analyst in 2022. Derek Nicholson was hired by Miami from Louisville via Cincinnati as linebackers coach.

Next. Miami football at ACC kickoff. dark

The Miami football team being internally driven and self-motivated is an important development. When Miami was winning championships the culture in the program was player driven. Cristobal was on Miami’s national championship teams in 1989 and 1991. Miami is expected to open training camp in early August.