2009 overall record: 9-4
2009 conference record: 5-3
Offense: 6, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 2
OT Jason Fox, C A.J. Trump, TE Dedrick Epps, RB Javarris James, S Randy Phillips, CB Sam Shields, LB Darryl Sharpton, DT Joe Joseph
2009 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Cooper* (695 yards)
Passing: Harris* (3,352 yds)
Receiving: Hankerson* (801 yds)
Tackles: Sharpton (106)
Sacks: Bailey* (7)
Interceptions: Harris, Phillips, Micanor Regis* (2)
1. Depth at running back. The running backs had arguably the best spring of any position group and proved they’re still deep, despite the loss of James and not having Cooper, who is recovering from a torn ACL. Lamar Miller, a redshirt freshman, was tough to bring down in the open field, and had good speed. Storm Johnson, a true freshman who enrolled early, picked up the offense quickly and ran hard. Damien Berry showed the same form he had at the end of the season when he finished strong, and Mike James returned to running back from fullback.
2. Deeper at QB. What a difference a year can make. After both backup quarterbacks transferred a year ago, this position has the best depth it’s seen under coach Randy Shannon. A.J. Highsmith, Spencer Whipple and Stephen Morris all moved the ball this spring. Highsmith seemed to be the front-runner for the No. 2 job behind Jacory Harris, as he took most of the first-team reps with Harris out.
3. Defensive line shines. First-year defensive line coach Rick Petri’s group was one of the Canes’ bright spots this spring. The defensive ends go about three deep on each side. Adewale Ojomo, who missed all of last season with a broken jaw, is back, and the tackles were solid.
1. Wanted: tight ends. Miami only had two tight ends this spring, but the Canes will add four in the fall, including Chase Ford, a junior college transfer. Richard Gordon and Billy Sanders will finally get some competition. Gordon has the most experience and he’s a senior, but he only played in one game last year. He was granted an extra year of eligibility and should have a bigger role this season. Sanders, a redshirt freshman, was on the scout team.
2. Transition at center. Tyler Horn isn’t a rookie, but it's unclear how he'll adjust to his new role in taking over for A.J. Trump. Horn was the top option at center this spring with true freshman Shane McDermott, an early enrollee, behind him. Horn has been there for three years, and it’s his job to lose.
3. Stuck in the middle. Who will take over at middle linebacker? Miami is still working out its depth issue here. Kylan Robinson started to emerge there in the spring, and Shayon Green was another option. At the end of spring, Colin McCarthy was still at strong side and Sean Spence was at weak side, but Shannon could make some moves to get the best group of linebackers in there. That could mean McCarthy moves to the middle. In the past two years, Shannon liked to put an older player there (Glenn Cook, Darryl Sharpton), but McCarthy played the majority of the spring at his usual spot. The return of Spence and Jordan Futch from injuries should help Shannon figure out the right combination.