NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Miami Prospects

Will Brandon McGee Be the Only Hurricane to Hear His Name Called at Next Week's NFL Draft?

Will Brandon McGee Be the Only Hurricane to Hear His Name Called at Next Week’s NFL Draft?

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.

Following last year’s mass player exodus, Miami only loses a few seniors to this year’s draft. And the program that once produced multiple first-round picks each and every season now looks like a shadow of its former self. Of the three players we’ll profile here, just one has a sure-fire chance of being selected, and that’s still not even until the third day. These fortunes could all change course soon enough (plenty of pro talent on the current roster), but until then, it’ll at least look like rebuilding mode to the uninformed eye.

Brandon McGee, CB, Senior (Projected: Fifth Round)

McGee gets solid marks from scouts with an athletic build and some great speed (4.37 40-yard dash), but his size (5’11” and 193 pounds) could end up becoming an issue as the NFL transitions to larger targets in the passing game. During his career at Miami, he’s shown glimpses of being a great physical cover man, but sometimes that leads to far too much downfield contact and/or getting beat on shorter routes. Still, his ability to get a finger on the ball is noted and appreciated. While there’s certainly plenty to improve upon — anyone who watched Miami’s dreadful secondary last year will agree, I’m sure — he’s a strong prospect with enough upside to be worth a third-day selection.

Mike James, RB, Senior (Projected: Undrafted)

James never really got rolling as a feature back at Miami — the main reason he’ll go undrafted next week. But in the split time he spent on the field these last four years, he’s also shown glimpses of why he could end up a valuable third/fourth running back option and/or special-teamer. With a 4.5 40-yard dash time, he’s got nice speed and burst off the line, and last year in particular, he also improved his receiving skills out of the backfield, catching 30 passes for 344 yards and three scores. As a tireless worker and reasonably underused runner though, I could see the appeal of signing James as a free agent with a real shot to make a team for the fall.

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ACC Football Preseason Power Rankings 2012

Kyle Fuller and the Virginia Tech Defense Are a Large Part of the Team’s High Ranking Coming Into 2012

Just days before kickoff, we’ve compiled our final offseason power rankings before the new ACC football season begins. Starting after week one (this weekend), these will go back to their typical, weekly format. Read the full rankings below, and enjoy the season!

1. Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1): Florida State’s hype has gone through the roof as we’ve gotten closer to the season. On top of the typical talk of an ACC title, notable pundits have also pegged them as a true national title contender (and perhaps, winner, too). In the end, it’ll all come down to EJ Manuel‘s readiness to take them to the next level. It’s obvious the defense is fully capable already, despite the loss of Greg Reid (not as vital as some would have you think).

2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Things won’t be easy without game-changing receiver Sammy Watkins during the first two games of the season. But there’s still plenty of firepower in this offense, even in his absence. We know they can score. But unfortunately, we’re still unsure whether or not this defense can stop anyone. Week one versus Auburn will be a tough test early on.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): As always, the Virginia Tech defense (led by Kyle Fuller) is on board. Now, we’ll have to see just how well this revamped Hokies offensive line holds up. If Logan Thomas can get some time to throw — instead of being relegated to scrambling too often — they’ll be just fine.

4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (LW: 5): Manageable schedule, veteran group; the whole thing seems to lead to a big year for the Ramblin’ Wreck. The key, as mentioned far too many times before, is Tevin Washington‘s ability to throw the ball. If he’s made strides, and the passing game at least appears to be a threat to the defense, the triple-option becomes that much more dangerous.

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ACC 2012 Season Preview: Miami Hurricanes

Miami Head Coach Al Golden Has Already Come Under Tons of Fire Since Taking the Job for the 2011 Season

Team: Miami Hurricanes

2011 W-L: 6-6 (3-5)

Head Coach: Al Golden (6-6; one season)

Returning Starters: 9 (5 Offense, 4 Defense)

When the ACC recruited Miami a decade ago, it was going after a program that had spent the past two decades as the sports’ most dominant program. Five national championships, nine conference championships and two Heisman trophy winners, all for a team that had also developed a bit of a (warranted) lawless attitude. While they’ve dealt with some issues before, the gauntlet for this program, after an ever-growing scandal involving former booster Nevin Shapiro, may yet to have been dropped. But as they await their fate, the Hurricanes still have some football to play. How well they manage to do so this season is up for some serious debate.

As part of the “sinking ship” mentality adopted by many in the Miami program last year, the ‘Canes offense lost six offensive starters, including all of its primary playmakers. So while there’s a pretty steep ramp at all of the skill positions, they will play with the benefit of an experienced O-line in front of them. Obviously, with so many departures, Miami coaches are also faced with decisions on who’ll be getting the ball as they try to kick-start an offense that scored around 26.5 points per game last year (good for middle-of-the-road in FBS). With their depth largely made up of new, young talent, it will not be an easy task.

At quarterback, it does appear the team is set on Stephen Morris, who has played in 11 contests over the past two seasons (with four starts in 2010). Since arriving at the U, Morris has shown glimpses of what made him such a highly-coveted recruit out of college, yet has yet to put the total package together. He’ll have the ramp to do so in 2012, though redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams is also waiting in the wings. Continue reading

ACC Media Days 2012: Top 10 Storylines

We Give a Rundown of the Top 10 Topics You’ll Be Hearing About at ACC Media Days, Which Start This Sunday

It’s nearly football season. Or at least I keep telling myself as much. But it’s getting even closer with ACC Media Days starting this Sunday, July 22. While I’ll be down in North Carolina myself next week, it sadly won’t be for the event. Nonetheless, I’ll be paying a visit to Chapel Hill and hopefully engaging in some lively banter with locals about BBQ and the upcoming football season.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 talking points we’re likely to see addressed at media days. Some topics (like the top item), commissioner John Swofford and the coaches will have plenty to say about. While others, like the ongoing institutional issues at two universities in particular, will be pushed aside in a valiant attempt to forget about them for two days. Without further ado, your guide to ACC Media Days 2012:

1. Syracuse & Pittsburgh Joining in 2013: After both schools announced separate $7.5M settlements for early exits from the Big East, there’s finally a date attached to their arrival. And while there won’t be any representatives from either institution at the event, there’s bound to be a ton of questions. With the 14-team model now ready to go for next season, we’ll hear all about the new scheduling conventions, permanent rivals, and overall feelings about traveling up to New York and Pittsburgh (odds are no one beyond Boston College is that thrilled). All of this will be framed within the “new era of the ACC” narrative, and everyone will be told how much bigger, better and different things will be.

2. Where are Discussions With Notre Dame at?: This will be a hot topic amongst media attendees, even if Swofford will likely try and pretend there’s nothing going on whatsoever. The league offices have admitted to conversations about the Orange Bowl (we’ll get to that). But what about expansion? If those conversations have started at all, no one’s saying, and rightfully so. As we’ve seen during the last two rounds of expansion, Swofford pulls off deals like this in the dead of night. If something happens, everyone but his secretary will be surprised when it’s announced. Continue reading

Early 2012 ACC Football Power Rankings (July 17)

New Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables (Right) Believes He Can Fix the Tigers’ Multitude of Problems on That Side of the Ball

I can see kickoff on the horizon! (Almost) But nonetheless, the 2012 college football season is getting closer and closer, meaning more discussions about actual football. As we’ve done this entire offseason, below is a completely arbitrary ranking of all 14 ACC schools, taking into account all random happenings in and around each respective program. These are the final offseason rankings before we dive into our 2012 season preview. Then, once the season starts (!!!) they’ll be updated weekly, just as they were last year.

1. Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1): Can Florida State finally make good on the lofty preseason expectations that have accompanied them these past few years? The pieces are all there — 10 returning starters on defense, an experienced, veteran QB in E.J. Manuel, and a very manageable schedule. Now it’s up to the ‘Noles to deliver.

2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Complain about the defense all you want, but I’ve got a great feeling about new coordinator Brent Venables and his ability to make an immediate impact. Plus, how can you honestly bet against the team’s three-headed monster on offense? You saw how they manhandled talented defenses last year. Who’s to say they can’t do so again?

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): There is a boatload of hype surrounding Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas. But the only way he’ll be able to deliver on it is if a) his inexperienced offensive line can adapt quickly, b) the running game can take some of the load off his shoulders (dependent, in part, on the offensive line), and c) his receivers are ready and able to make an impact. Wideout D.J. Coles appears ready to become a bigger part of the offense in 2012. He’ll be called upon often to prove it.

4. NC State Wolfpack (LW: 4): The expectations are growing down in Raleigh, especially with a manageable schedule laid out in front of the Wolfpack. So long as Mike Glennon and David Amerson are healthy, there are very few squads in the ACC that can truly hang with these guys on either side of the ball.

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More Miami Troubles?: Ray Ray Armstrong and Twitter Violations

Is Ray Ray Armstrong Guilty of Anything Serious, or Just Another Case of a Twitter Mishap?

In the past, we’d discussed the type of job Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden was doing to clean up the program’s image, but also acknowledged that there’s plenty more work to be done. The news back on June 29 about Ray Ray Armstrong and Seantrel Henderson doesn’t necessarily help matters then, despite the seemingly minor infractions for both.

Initial reaction to the news was all about a lack of institutional control and additional flying off the handle using tired, cliched tropes about “The U’s” thug image (which arrest records haven’t really supported for a decade now). Both players appeared to be suspended indefinitely, which meant more headaches for Golden and more heat from the NCAA. But now, it appears that that’s not the case.

Armstrong’s father is on the record claiming that his son will be playing at Miami this season, and has not been suspended for his supposed interaction with a booster on Twitter. Henderson has also disputed reports that he’s out as well, after arriving to camp one day late.

Removing these two players from the status and symbolism associated with Miami, especially with its current NCAA issues, would this even be a blip on the radar were they playing elsewhere? No, neither is necessarily a saint — specifically Henderson, who’s had a rocky collegiate career for the most part — but arriving late for practice and briefly interacting with boosters via Twitter aren’t the type of offenses that get star defenders or any lineman suspended for good. While watching ESPN’s College Football Live on Monday, I saw commentators were quick to call for more sanctions and declare a doomsday scenario for Miami’s recruiting class of 2011 (missing two or more postseasons due to NCAA violations). I’d say let’s hold off judgment for the time being. Continue reading