Friday, April 18, 2008

Canes Football Position Changes

So there are 3 confirmed position changes heading into 2008: Luqman Abdullah moves from defensive tackle to offensive line; Ryan Hill moves from wide receiver to cornerback; and Damian Berry moves into the logjam at running back. Berry was a safety last year and this spring.

Abdullah's move is a virtual non-story. The junior has been buried in the depth chart at defensive tackle, where the depth chart was gossamer thin last year, so my hunch is that he will stay buried in the depth chart at offensive line, though he does have impressive size for the position, at 6"3 and 307 lbs. He was always considered a project with tantalizing upside, which has heretofore gone unmaterialized.

Ryan Hill's move is the least surprising, in my opinion. He was recruited by UM as a cornerback, and his past two years at receiver have been uninspiring. Although he has blazing speed, he lacks the glue hands coaches have been looking for at the receiver position for several years. Besides, cornerback is probably the thinnest position on the roster currently, and has been aching for increased numbers. Even after this Hill switch, fans and coaches cannot wait for Booker T. Washington's Brandon Harris to arrive in the fall to shore up the secondary.

As for Damian Berry, his move is the most intriguing. The Hurricanes are STACKED at running back, and the depth chart looks like this - Graig Cooper, Javarris James, Shawnbrey McNeal, Derron Thomas, and Lee Chambers. The likely 2009 #1 high school running back prospect, Bryce Brown of Wichita, Kansas, arrives next year ready to compete for immediate playing time. Although Berry played running back as well as safety at Glades Central in 2006, people were expecting him to shine at safety, where many compared his instincts to Ed Reed and his hard-hits to Sean Taylor. I suppose his production failed to match his hype in the coaches' eyes, and they like what they currently have at safety (and they get true freshmen in the fall that were among the top 10 at their position in Ramon Buchanon and Vaughan Telemaque). Berry's best chance at running back is as a second "power back" option to Javarris James. We'll see how all of these experiments fare in the fall.


ASponge said...

The bigger question surrounding "Canes Football Position Changes" will be whether they return to prominence. I expect them to become pretty good again. Top 25 is likely.

E.J. said...

Asponge, you are actually more optimistic than I am at this point! Canes fans have been conditioned by cold, hard experience to pay no attention to hype surrounding recruits or hype following spring practices. We're an incredulous bunch, and after several years of seeing recruiting success fail to translate to on-field success, we withhold optimistic prognostications until we see some reason for optimism on the gamedays.

That said...a brief or prolonged stint in the top 25 would not surprise me, but I'm thinking this is a multi-year process, and by 2010 we should be legitimately back in the national title hunt.

ASponge said...

You almost have to wonder if the real cause of UM and FSU decline has been the emergence of USF, FAU, and UCF as Bowl-game programs.

Florida may be a hot bed of talent, but not for 6 teams!

E.J. said...

Many would agree with you. Although UM had top 15 recruiting classes every year since their championship (USF, UCF, and FAU never came close to those types of national recruiting rankings), it ("it" meaning Larry Coker) did not recruit the gritty, hungry, lower-ranked recruits from the tri-county area like USF, UCF, and FAU. Shannon is certainly changing that (see his cleaning up of the national champion Miami Northwestern High School squad), recruiting for talent and attitude, instead of just for talent as judged by recruiting gurus.