With the program's spring game done and passed, the Miami Hurricanes football team had tons of names that stood out. Many were the ones everyone expected, but others shined maybe earlier than we thought.
There are quite a few players who have me excited and expecting a big season. Players like linebacker Shaq Quarterman and wide receiver Jeff Thomas are obviously expected to have great seasons because of their last few, but there are some who have an opportunity to create a name for themselves on a national stage.
Some on this list are obviously going to play a big role in 2019, gaining a ton of attention during not just this offseason, but going back to before the 2018 season. But they still have me hoping for even better seasons than expected. New head coach Manny Diaz has given the program the feel of excitement it has missed in quite some time, so it is difficult not to be excited.
Cam'Ron Harris, Running Back
Last year, Harris burst onto the scene late with really good games against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. In those games, he had a total of 13 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two catches for 19 yards and a score.
With Travis Homer leaving for the 2019 NFL Draft, it will be important that offensive coordinator Dan Enos finds a running back to pair with Deejay Dallas, and Harris showed he can definitely play against ACC-caliber defenses. He does have some competition for the second back role, but a solid spring game makes it seem like he has separated himself.
Nesta Silvera, Defensive Tackle
One of the most important players this season is Nesta Silvera. He has to replace Gerald Willis, who was extremely important to Miami's defense. Willis sat out for the Pinstripe Bowl, and Miami's defense got steamrolled by Wisconsin. This defense needs Silvera, or really any defensive tackle, to fit into that disruptive role in the middle of this front seven to be as successful as they have the last two years. First, it was R.J. McIntosh in 2017 with 12.5 tackles for loss, and then Willis in 2018 with 18 tackles for loss.
This spring, Silvera has apparently been pretty disruptive for the offense, which I am really hoping is a nod to his skill and not the weakness of the interior offensive line. Either way, Silvera has me hoping for deja vu along the defensive line.
Al Blades Jr., Defensive Back
With the loss of three starting defensive backs, there is a desperate need for younger players to step up. And there's no one better than the son of a legend. Blades didn't get much of an opportunity to play last season since the defensive backfield was full of veterans, but 2019 will be different. He's been one of my favorite players since he was in high school when he threw up the U on the field at Doak Campbell Stadium.
I don't think the success of Blades is as vital to the team as some other players, but he could definitely be a game changer for the Canes. Plus, he has orange and green running through his veins, so there is no other player who would surprise me less than is Blades turned into a legend over the next two or three seasons.
Evidence Njoku, Wide Receiver
So, Miami is absolutely stacked at receiver. They lost Lawrence Cager to transfer and Darrell Langham to graduation, so there is a lack of big receivers this program has had in the past. Njoku is definitely a big body who could help this team, especially in the red zone.
I don't know if Njoku will put up crazy numbers because there is a ton of talent on the outside for this team, as well as some serious skill at tight end, but I could see him playing a big role and making a jump similar to the one his brother, David Njoku, made between his freshman and sophomore seasons. I would love to see a few jump balls thrown to the 6-foot-6 receiver down near the end zone this season.
Will Mallory, Tight End
One of the first things I think of when picturing this team is the insane tight end duo. The combination of Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory is wild and has to have Enos drooling while making ACC defensive coordinators shake. The ideal situation has to be a similar product of what the New England Patriots did in the Super Bowl with a two tight end, two running back set.
Mallory could possibly be the best tight end in another conference, and the Hurricanes are lucky to have him as their second tight end. It is also huge that with Jordan sidelined during the spring, they have someone equally as talented and ready to go with the starters.
Gregory Rousseau, Defensive End
I don't think I have heard more about a player during the past two springs than Rousseau. He has dominated in scrimmages and spring games, and hopefully this season as a redshirt freshman, he can do the same to opposing quarterbacks.
With the loss of Joe Jackson -- one of the biggest playmakers on the defense -- Rousseau can hopefully pair well with Jonathan Garvin and become a dominant pair of defensive ends. And any player who is getting advice from Calais Campbell, one of the most under-appreciated NFL players of the last decade, is probably worth paying attention to because he could wreak some havoc come fall.
Enjoy all things sports?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.