Miami football: Projected offensive depth chart after Signing Day

  • David Wilson
  • Diehards
9:07 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 Sports

Early Wednesday, Miami’s lone major win of National Signing Day came in from  Marquez Ezzard, a 4-star athlete from Stockbridge (Ga.) High School, signed with the Hurricanes, giving Miami football its 10th blue-chip signing in the Class of 2018.

The 2017 season for the Hurricanes was largely defined by the discrepancy between their defensive success and their offensive ineptitude. With its turnover chain and takeaway-happy philosophy, Miami rode its defense to the ACC Championship Game even while its offense floundered.

The Hurricanes’ 2018 recruiting haul should change things. Miami has a new quarterback if it wants, a 5-star running back it will use and a plethora of talented pass catchers to count on. With Signing Day in the books, here’s how we see the Hurricanes’ depth chart shaking out during the spring with this talented group of freshmen included:

(* — Player will not be on the roster during the spring)

Quarterback

Rosier will enter the spring with the starting job. Miami won’t give him a long leash, though. Either Williams, a 4-star pro-style quarterback early enrollee, or Perry will have a chance to snatch the job from Rosier, who really struggled at times in 2017.

Williams is the most intriguing piece here despite Perry’s high profile. The younger quarterback finished in the top 100 of the 247Sports composite rankings for the Class of 2018 and is the Hurricanes’ highest-ranked quarterback signee in 15 years.

Running back

Miami is going to be able to go really deep at running back in 2018. Homer will get the first crack at the starting job after performing admirably when former star running back Mark Walton went down early during the 2017 season. It will be impossible to keep Lingard off the field, though. The 5-star running back is the top-ranked member of the Hurricanes’ 2018 class and a legitimate three-down back.

Davis, an incoming 4-star running back, may be good enough to get on the field, too. His versatility means Miami could use him as a hybrid athlete and blocker. Burns, a former Under Armour All-American, should make a push for playing time if he’s fully recovered from his injury. Gray and Atkins both spent time on the two-deep depth chart in 2017, so we’ll keep them here for now. The Hurricanes may also use DeeJay Dallas at running back again. We’ll get to the athlete a little later.

Wide receiver (X)

Richards, the star of this offense, is hoping to bounce back after an injury-riddled 2017. If he can’t get healthy, though, Miami has options behind him.

Hightower, a 4-star recruit and early enrollee, could be the Hurricanes’ next great outside wide receiver and Richards’ replacement in 2019. His strong performance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl proved he’ll be capable of contributing immediately, potentially even as a kick returner. Langham will find at least situational use for Miami and could become an even bigger part of the rotation if he becomes more consistent.

Wide receiver (Z)

Cager is a former Under Armour All-American who’s shown flashes throughout his career. The Hurricanes will give him every chance to succeed as a senior.

For now, let’s slot Dallas in here even though he could wind up playing four different positions on offense. Cager is the least established starter among the wide receivers, which means this is the spot Dallas could most likely become a starter. Ezzard, an incoming 4-star wide receiver, is talented enough to provide good depth and contribute on special teams.

Wide receiver (Y)

Wide receivers coach Ron Dugans hasn’t settled on a slot receiver yet. Thomas, however, seems like a logical fit. He played there at times in 2017, and both Richards and Cager are better suited to the outside.

If either Harley or Pope, an incoming 4-star wide receiver, prove themselves capable to start, though, Thomas could move to the outside. This scenario isn’t implausible. Pope, for what it’s worth, is also a dangerous punt returner.

Tight end

Irvin may enter spring camp as the starter. It will be tough for him to hold off Jordan, though. The 4-star tight end finished the 2018 recruiting cycle as the No. 1 player at his position. He’s the style of tight end Miami likes and could be an awesome special teams player, too.

Mallory, another incoming 4-star tight end, is the perfect complement to the slightly undersized Jordan. Mallory is a lanky pass catcher who can become a particularly dangerous jump-ball threat. Polendy, who spent time on the two-deep in 2017, provides additional depth.

Left tackle

Donaldson said he wants to move back to tackle, and he has higher upside than anyone else on the offensive line. He could become an excellent left tackle. If not, Herbert has been penciled as a potential left tackle of the future. Their competition could be fascinating.

Milo, meanwhile, has not lived up to his 4-star status. There’s always a chance he puts it all together, though.

Left guard

Boulware is transferring in from Tennessee with the intention to start, as he occasionally did for the Volunteers. With an opening at left guard, the transfer will have a chance to step in immediately. Scaife, a 4-star offensive guard and early enrollee, won’t make things easy. He’s a complete offensive lineman already.

Mahoney provides a bit of extra depth and his versatility makes him valuable. He spent virtually the entire 2017 season as a part of the Hurricanes’ two-deep depth chart

Center

Gauthier is back as Miami’s center after a strong senior season. The question is: Who are the Hurricanes going to groom behind their senior?

Mahoney’s versatility could make him the backup, but it’s probably worth giving Reed a crack. The incoming 4-star guard has experience as a center and given Miami’s strength at guard it could be the best way for him to see the field early, unless he outplays some veterans and surprisingly makes the starting lineup.

Right guard

Gaynor started once as a freshman when Donaldson was injured. This should give him a leg up to take over one of the openings at guard.

This may be the more likely spot for Scaife to win a starting job, though. Boulware is a bit more talented and experienced than Gaynor. Mahoney once again provides depth and experience.

Right tackle

While the Hurricanes could try moving St. Louis to left tackle, the offensive lineman now has so much experience at right tackle it makes sense to keep him there.

It means this spot on the depth chart will stay intact. Brown will resume backing up St. Louis. Milo again is worth keeping tabs on just because of the expectations he arrived with on campus.

Kicker

Special teams coordinator Todd Hartley says Baxa, an incoming 3-star recruit, will start as a freshman. He has a big leg, which gives him potential as both a placekicker and a kickoff specialist.

Baxa’s reserves are a slew of walk-ons with Baeza, Davidson and incoming unranked kicker Camden Price. It makes sense to redshirt the latter, which means the other two will compete for the backup job. With a freshman expected to start, they’ll need to be on call in case Baxa struggles.

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