ACC spring practice preview: Miami (FLA)

Miami (FLA) Hurricanes
2009: 9-4 (5-3)

Miami (FLA) quarterback Jacory Harris will be able to participate in spring practice for the Hurricanes after all, albeit on a limited basis. Head coach Randy Shannon announced on Monday that Harris, who is recovering from surgery on his throwing hand, will be involved in some non-throwing drills throughout spring camp, which opens on Tuesday.

Harris passed for 3,352 yards and tossed 24 touchdowns in ’09 but played with a sore thumb for much of the second half of the season before having surgery Jan. 6.

All eyes this spring, however, will be on returning backup A.J. Highsmith and early-enrolled freshman Stephen Morris, who will both compete to be Harris’ backup next fall. Both Highsmith and Morris will get the majority of the reps in passing drills, which might be the only positive to come out of Harris’ injury, as the ‘Canes will have a chance to solidly develop a No. 2 signal caller for next year.

Shannon also announced on Monday that senior Orlando Franklin will begin the spring as the first-string left tackle, replacing Jason Fox, who the ‘Canes lose to graduation. Franklin will be integral as he will protect Harris’ blind side.

Tight end is a concern with Jimmy Graham gone and Richard Gordon the only one with any experience on the roster. The ‘Canes have four tight ends in their 2010 class, but none are early enrollees.

Who will replace Graig Cooper as the starting tailback with Cooper out after knee surgery? Look for Damien Berry to get the first crack, as Shannon described Berry as “the total package.”

Can the defensive line return to its disruptive and dominant ways of the past? Rick Petri was brought in as the new line coach to help with the pass rush, and Allen Bailey and Josh Holmes will certainly be relied upon to anchor the unit. Bailey tallied seven sacks in ’09. Defensive lineman Adewale Ojomo, who missed the 2009 season with a broken jaw that caused him to lose more than 30 pounds, has bulked up and Shannon said he’s excited to see where the lineman is at in terms of conditioning.

Freshman linebacker Shayon Green will enter spring as the team’s new middle linebacker. Green missed last season with a knee injury, and with the graduation of Darryl Sharpton and the departure of Arthur Brown, the ‘Canes lack depth at the position. Kylan Robinson is in line to be the backup, but Sean Spence and Colin McCarthy could see time as situational Mike ‘backers.

One aspect of Miami’s 2010 squad that may be overlooked is the fact that this marks the first time in the Shannon regime that both coordinators will return for consecutive seasons. Both Mark Whipple and John Lovett are back, so the focus can be on continued growth rather than enduring an adjustment period for the coaches and players.

Shannon promised a more physical spring for the Hurricanes, hoping to mold a tougher and more opportunistic team on defense. Coming off of a nine-win campaign that raised the expectations of Miami fans, can the Hurricanes resurgence become complete with a BCS berth?

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