Miami had an incredible resurgence in 2017. They rattled off ten consecutive wins. Some would say it was largely due to the play of Malik Rosier while others would contend that it was in spite of his play. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. When you look at his raw stats, he completed 54% of his passes with a tick over 3,000 passing yards and 26/14 TD/INT ratio. He made some throws that were breathtaking that undoubtedly won the Hurricanes games. The problem was that he ran really hot and cold. Drive to drive, quarter to quarter, and game to game, I really didn’t know what to expect. His detractors will point to the fact Miami finished their season 0-3 and Rosier threw five INTs compared to three TDs and averaged 167 passing yards per game. I’ll cut right to it. I don’t think he’s the guy. I think we got to see his ceiling and it isn’t high enough for a team that now has championship aspirations. The ground game isn’t good enough nor the defense elite enough to just use an erratic game manager and get a ring. rFR N’Kosi Perry has a skillset that is comparable to Marcus Mariota (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Leel61cB0sc). He is my preference for who the Canes start in 2018. Reports have been mixed for the entire QB room this spring. I believe Perry’s athleticism and ability to win with his legs will ultimately be what earns him the job. Mark Richt has a history of making some silly decision with his QBs in Athens so I’m hoping that he recognizes that Rosier was a bridge and nothing more. The other two contenders are rFR Cade Weldon and early enrollee Jarran Williams. Hall of Fame Safety, Ed Reed, had a chance to see a recent scrimmage and he didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement of Rosier, “He didn’t look bad, he was making solid decisions, and if it wasn’t there he’d tuck it and go, which is smart… Like I said, this is the time when you figure out your limits. It doesn’t count toward your stats or anything, so take some chances.’’ Miami needs a dynamic player and I believe that man is Perry.
The loss of Mark Walton will be made much easier due to his unfortunate premature exit in 2017, due to injury. As a result of his injury, Travis Homer had the opportunity to step in and put up a productive season as the feature back. His 163-966-8 and 18-291-1 receiving are solid fantasy numbers. He finished as the overall CFF RB26. He only had 20+ carries twice last season which leaves the door open for another back to step in and have relevance. I believe that player is Swiss Army Knife, DeeJay Dallas. He was used as a wide receiver for much of the year but then transitioned into both a traditional RB and wildcat QB roles. Dallas is now up to 221 pounds and he has stated that he hasn’t lost any of his explosiveness. Homer is a bit light to expect 200+ touches but his home-run-ability could allow him to exceed the typical floor of his volume. Choc Gray has reportedly moved to fullback and that leaves other players like Robert Burns, Lorenzo Lingard, and Cam’Ron Davis to contend for touches. My money would be on the talented newcomer, Lingard, to out-touch the rest of that group but I am not as high on his ability as all of the recruiting services seem to be. For Richt’s shortcomings in making QB decision in Athens, he did have to regularly navigate how to best utilize very talented running back rooms. The offensive line should be serviceable. The right side appears to be the strength as of now but overall they look to be a middle of the pack group. While this isn’t a very deep group, I do think it will be very interesting to see how the touches are split up. Homer is the safe bet for RB1 but Dallas is a player that I think will demand more touches as the season progresses.
Ahmmon Richards is the Hurricanes’ most talented wide receiver. He had an incredible freshman season in 2016 but his 2017 season was cut short due to injury. He is still recovering from that meniscus injury and he won’t be a full participant until this fall. As long as he is healthy, he is their WR1 and a very high-value CFF and Devy target. Another player that had success as a young player is Jeff Thomas. He isn’t a big WR but his straight-line speed and ability stretch a defense deep are elite. It’s easy to pencil a 5’10” WR into a slot role, but I actually think a player like Mike Hartley is better suited to replace Braxton Berrios. There are veterans like Lawrence Cager, Dayall Harris, Darrell Langham, and Evidence Njoku that will be battling for reps at one of the outside receiver spots. There are a bunch of incoming freshmen that will be in the mix as well. Mark Pope, Brian Hightower, Daquris Wiggins, and Marquez Ezzard. At this point, I think the three best fantasy assets at WR for the Canes are Ahmmon Richards, Jeff Thomas, and Mike Hartley.
Miami has a rich lineage of tight ends. Speaking of lineage, Michael Irvin II looks like the TE1 to start the season. Irvin has enjoyed the off-field issues that traditionally accompany his last name, but he is apparently back in the staff’s good graces. There will be two talented freshmen TEs that will push him for playing time this fall. Brevin Jordan is the most talented of the bunch but he won’t have the benefit of enrolling early and participating this fall. Jordan is a player that I’ve watched a good bit and I am a huge fan of his ability as a pass catcher. Perhaps the influx of talent at WR will mean that the TE has fewer targets but even so, I believe there will be some CFF value in this group. Jordan is the guy I will bet on over the long-term for both CFF and Devy purposes.
The Miami defense is loaded with playmakers. The defensive line has players on the interior such as Gerald Willis, Pat Bethel, and TrFR Nesta Silvera. Accompanying them, Demetrious Jackson and Joe Jackson will be at the top of the depth chart for defensive ends. Joe Jackson is one of my favorite defenders in college football. From the time he stepped onto the field in 2016 as a true freshman, it was clear he was a future star. I’ve long maintained he will be a first-round pick in the NFL and with 2018 being his junior season, he will finally be eligible. Behind him, they have three talented true juniors at LB in Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud. Quarterman headlines the group that is now entering their third season as primary contributors. In the secondary, there is an abundance of talent. At corner, Michael Jackson will be the highly valued player in the upcoming NFL draft. The nickel/slot corner, Trajan Bandy, had a fantastic true freshman campaign in 2017. Amari Carter is very versatile and has tons of upside. There are a bunch of talented players coming in such as Gilbert Frierson (Frank Gore’s cousin), D.J. Ivey, Gurvan Hall, and the legend, Al Blades Jr. Jaquan Johnson is one of the premier safeties in college football and he will round out a group that is heavy on talent but lighter on experience. This will be a fun group to watch over the next several years.