The University of Miami is going to see a lot of new faces on their team in 2017. Nine Hurricanes were drafted in the 2017 NFL draft, and a few more were signed as unrestricted free agents. These changes have lots of fans concerned, as it looks like the Canes are in a rebuilding process. This may not be the case, however. The talent that Miami is returning and bringing in has the ability to lead this team very far, maybe the National Championship.
Everybody is wondering about the quarterback position since Brad Kaaya left for the NFL. It seems like the favorite to win the position battle is N’Kosi Perry, a dual-threat QB who had a great year at Vanguard high school in Florida. Perry gives the Canes a guy who can run the run-pass-option scheme that Miami runs under Mark Richt, and scramble when the pressure gets to him. Kaaya never had the ability to get out of the pocket, or even run in general. This will be a new generation for Miami if Perry is to win the job.
Running back Mark Walton should have to carry a pretty big load on the offense this year. This isn’t a bad thing, as Walton is a tremendous back and put up solid numbers in 2016. Travis Homer should be backing up Walton, as there are only a few other backs capable of doing so on the team. Miami’s O-Line is what really struggled last year, and looks like they’re improving. 4-star tackles Navaughn Donaldson and Kai-Leon Herbert will be given the opportunity to start right away. Danny Isidora graduated, and Sunny Odogwu recently transferred, so that leaves Miami with holes to fill. It’s hard to see the line improving much, but we can hope for the best.
Miami is going to rely on their receivers a lot this year. True freshman Ahmmon Richards had an outstanding year last year, and will be looking to do the same in 2017. Bringing in speedsters Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley Jr. will give defenses an extremely hard time to cover all of these weapons at once. Braxton Berrios and Evidence Njoku are a couple other guys to look out for this year as well.
David Njoku leaving for the draft definitely hurt the Canes. However, us fans know how good Christopher Herndon is, and expect him to fill some pretty big shoes. Herndon was solid for Miami as a backup last year, putting up 28 catches for 334 yards. Freshman Brian Polendey should expect to see some time on the field as well.
The defense is going to be scary, to say the least. Playing a lot of freshman in 2016, all of these players are now more experienced sophomores looking to make a run at a championship. Joe Jackson, Shaq Quarterman, Zach McCloud, and Michael Pinckney are some names to watch out for.
Miami is going to have one of the best D-lines in the nation in 2017. Joe Jackson was a freshman last year who led the team in sacks with 7.5 Former 5-star recruit Chad Thomas will be a senior, and expect him to have a good year. R.J. McIntosh and Kendrick Norton were great for the Canes as well, and should improve on that. This group has the potential to be the deadliest in the nation.
The Canes started a trio of freshman linebackers in the nation last year, and it paid off. All three, between Shaq Quarterman, Zach McCloud, and Michael Pinckney, put up nice numbers and help Miami win nine games tremendously. As sophomores now, they can easily develop into stars. This young group is one of Miami’s many assets for the future of The U.
Miami’s secondary might be their downfall. Citadel transfer Dee Delaney looks to be the number one corner for the Canes. JUCO recruit Jhavonte Dean should be the favorite to win the next spot at corner, as he has the next most experience. Everybody else is young, or hasn’t played much. Incoming freshman DeeJay Dallas and Trajan Bandy look to find the field as a corner at times as well. The safety position is definitely up for grabs. Between Sheldrick Redwine, Rome Finley, Jaquan Johnson, and Amari Carter, we don’t know what will happen.
Realistically, will Miami be in a position to compete for the natty this year? The U definitely has a lot of talent, and the defense should carry them. It is definitely a possibility that Miami could be a contender this year.
The offense is really young, and if they play solid then the Canes are in great shape. The defense is much more experienced and should be one of the top defenses in the country. It all depends how the O-line holds up and N’Kosi Perry fills in at QB.
So, the answer to the question is yes, Miami will be a contender for the National Championship in 2017. Don’t expect it to happen, but there is a chance. It’s hard to see a team playing with a true freshman at QB contending, but it definitely can happen. Week 3 at FSU will have a huge impact on whether or not Miami can make a run this year.