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Miami: a closer look

By Times Staff
Published September 1, 2006


QUARTERBACKS

Junior Kyle Wright must assert himself as the next great Miami signal caller after an up-and-down first season leading the offense. Wright, who completed 180 of 307 passes (58.6 percent) with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, has looked more poised and in command of new offensive coordinator Rich Olson's spread scheme. Sophomore Kirby Freeman considered transferring in the spring, but he opted to stay and appears ready if Wright is injured.

 

RUNNING BACKS

Senior Tyrone Moss is almost healed from a serious knee injury, but he is suspended for the first game for violating a team policy. Junior Charlie Jones still figures to start, and sophomore Derron Thomas has pushed him. Freshman Javarris James, cousin of former Hurricanes star Edgerrin James, is further ahead of his famous relative at this point, coach Larry Coker said.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

The weakest offensive position from a depth standpoint with senior Ryan Moore suspended indefinitely. Senior Darnell Jenkins and sophomore Lance Leggett will open the season as starters. The most pleasant surprise of fall practice has been freshman Sam Shields of Sarasota Booker, who may well be the third receiver this year even if Moore returns. Tight end Greg Olsen is a preseason Mackey Award candidate and looks to get more chances in Olson's offense.

 

OFFENSIVE LINE

Senior center Anthony Wollschlager and junior right guard Derrick Morse lead the way. Andrew Bain (right guard), Reggie Youngblood (left tackle) and Andrew Bain (right tackle) round out the starting five. The line was a weak spot in all three of Miami's losses last season but should have added depth.

 

DEFENSIVE LINE

Miami's interior defense has the potential to be among the best in the nation. Bryan Pata has moved inside opposite fellow senior Kareem Brown. Senior Baraka Atkins and sophomore Calais Campbell will man the end positions.

 

LINEBACKERS

Junior Jon Beason has turned into one of the top linebackers in the country, as well as the vocal leader of the Hurricanes defense. Opposite Beason on the strong side will be junior Romeo Davis, who started at middle linebacker last season. Second-year freshman Darryl Sharpton is penciled in for the middle spot and has drawn rave comparisons to former Hurricanes star Jonathan Vilma.

 

DEFENSIVE BACKS

In 2005, Miami's pass defense led the nation by giving up only 152.2 yards per game. While that secondary had Kelly Jennings, Marcus Maxey and Devin Hester, there's a plethora of talent remaining, led by safeties Brandon Meriweather and Kenny Phillips. Sophomore safety Anthony Reddick is healthy again, as is senior Glenn Sharpe.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Former Countryside standout Jon Peattie enters 2006 as the leading active scorer in college football with 272 points, but he is coming off an inconsistent season in which he went 15-for-20 on field goals and missed four extra points. Punter Brian Monroe also will play receiver.

- MICHAEL SNYDER, Times correspondent