NCF Nation: A.J. Trump

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The Miami Hurricanes were one of the first teams in the country to start spring practice on Tuesday. I spoke with coach Randy Shannon Tuesday morning about his expectations for the program heading into his third season. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

To start, what are some of your top priorities this spring?

 
  Gary Rothstein/Icon SMI
  Miami coach Randy Shannon is putting a positive spin on his team's difficult 2009 schedule.

RS: Building depth on the offensive line. The two positions we've got to get some depth at are offensive line and linebacker. We have your so-called first units, but you don't want to get caught in a situation without depth at those positions and that's the one thing we have to develop. We've got a lot of guys back -- (Jason) Fox was a starter, (Joel) Figueroa played a lot, Orlando (Franklin) played a lot, (A.J.) Trump played a lot, (Matt) Pipho played -- but that next batch, we need to develop that sixth, seventh guy.

How many early enrollees do you have?

RS: Six. The last two years we've had seven or eight.

How much will it help you to have those guys for the spring?

RS: It helped us a lot last year because we played so many of those young guys. Of the eight guys that came in, seven helped us last year. These guys come in and they may have an opportunity to help us also. They get ahead.

Do you think the fact that last year's class did that and played so much helped you guys recruit this year because people saw they do have a chance to play as true freshmen at Miami?

RS: I think it did. People understand we're not afraid to play young guys coming in, and that if they're better than the guys we have on the football team they'll definitely get an opportunity to play.

With that said, how big of a step does this sophomore class now have to take and grow up a little bit more?

RS: They have to grow up a lot. Those guys played a lot last year and we have to now move forward. The seniors we do have, they're going to be very key to being leaders now. These guys have played two or three years under the new staff and we look for big things from them.

How did you wind up with such a brutal schedule?

RS: It is what it is, Heather. We have to look at it from the standpoint of, after the first four games you have an opportunity to be in the top 10 in the country. That's how you've gotta look at it. You can't look at it like the world is coming to an end, how are we going to get through this? You can't.

How far back did you schedule Oklahoma?

RS: That was before I was the coach. That was some years ago.

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