With the 2017 college football season kicking off on Saturday it’s time to start diving deeper in the Miami Hurricanes chances this season. Their first opponent is Bethune-Cookman, which shouldn’t pose much of a threat. They turn around and play Arkansas State on the road in the second week, which again should take the Canes to 2-0. It’s on September 16th that they play Florida State where we will get a better idea of maybe what to expect from Miami this year.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important players that will be the guys leading the charge for Miami to win their first ever ACC Coastal Division title.
Mark Walton – RB
Walton is going to be the most important offensive player on this team hand down. He wasn’t chosen to be all conference RB and player of the year runner up for nothing. He’s a complete back, who’s going to be a threat in the run and passing games this year. He’s the type of player that can take it to the house on any given possession. With QB Malik Rosier, being much more mobile than his predecessor Brad Kaaya, expect more pocket roll outs and passes to Walton. He’s also determined to make an impact and be known as one of the great RBs to come out of Miami.
Shaq Quarterman – LB
Shaq is going to be the most important player on the defensive side of the ball. Last season as a true freshman he was one of the best linebackers in the conference. This season there’s a chance he could be a first team All-American. The best part about this young man is that his mindset is focused on greatness. He wants to win a national title at Miami. He worked vigorously this offseason looking to better all aspect of his game including speed and strength. According to the coaching staff he has been going above and beyond everything asked of him, which has been a lot. He’s going to be an anchor on a top 10 nationally ranked defense. You will hear his name a lot this season.
Malik Rosier – QB
Of course we can’t have a list without naming the QB. With such a heated battle in the Spring and Fall, Rosier came out on top. It seems Rosier took the challenge pretty seriously because he came to compete and win the starting job. Not only that, but the team is 100% behind him as he has shown tremendous leadership and drive. He may not have the strongest arm on the roster, but he has shown a level of accuracy, consistency and most importably ball control that’s required of a team with high aspirations. It helps he has a lot of weapons on offense, which includes a receiving unit that has size and blazing speed. Also having Mark Walton as his RB can’t hurt.
Joe Jackson – DE
The Miami defensive line is insanely deep, like throwback early 2000s deep. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is going to run a bunch of looks all aggressive with a lot of players rotating in and out. This is what is going to keep the line fresh and likely a step ahead of the opposition. Sophomore Joe Jackson who had some big time plays last season as a freshman will make a name for himself. Earning the starting job considering the amount of competition they had at DE is a pretty big deal. Though Chad Thomas on the other end may be getting more hype, Jackson is a guy which will make double teaming Thomas lethal. You can’t talk about this stellar defense without mentioning the defensive ends, who are going to cause havoc all year long. Joe Jackson will be a player to be reckoned with.
Braxton Berrios – WR
Berrios is by no stretch the most athletic or fastest receiver the Canes have, but he’s going to play a huge role. Obviously Ahmmon Richards is really important, as he’s one of the top receivers and pro prospects in the country. That said Berrios is likely going to play a huge part of this offense. Having a mobile QB is going to help Berrios and Berrios will help Rosier. He’s one of those smart, physical and quick receivers we see in Bill Belichick’s offense in New England. This is his senior year and he’s going to be huge on third down and other important possessions. In addition he’s listed for right now as the starting punt returner and can easily take a punt to the house at any given moment. Not the flashiest of weapons for an offense, but important enough to make this list.
Dee Delaney – CB
Delaney was a tremendous addition as a grad transfer from the Citadel. He’s an FCS All-American and a guy who came in having high expectations for himself. Despite the obvious talent adjustment stepping up in division, Delaney won the starting job at CB. Not only that but he won it earlier than expected. There has been nothing but praise from the coaching staff regarding Delaney. He mixes good speed and size along with great instinct and a high football IQ. Plus coming from the Citadel he already arrived with strong discipline and leadership skills. He’s the type of guy who ought to flourish with this defense and make a major name for himself in the ACC. It’s not out of the question he could end up a first team All-ACC player.
Kendrick Norton – DL
I wasn’t going to be able to get away without putting one of the big guys on the defensive side of the ball on this list. Kendrick Norton is 6’3 312 lb junior and alongside RJ McIntosh make a pretty nasty starting duo of down defensive lineman. The coaching staff has said that Norton has improved all aspects of his game, which is going to be scary for anyone daring to run up the middle. A lot is going to be written about the defensive ends all season, but the down linemen on this team are going to be putting in some serious work. Expect Norton to be putting in work and be very important for Miami en-route to their quest to the ACC title game.