Lost: The Hurricanes lost the heart and soul of the entire team over the last couple seasons in Sean Spence. A four-year starter at Miami, Spence finished his career with 317 total tackles -- and that was mostly playing on the outside. He was like another coach on the field and more than anything, his leadership qualities will be missed. Jordan Futch also departed, with 36 career tackles as a backup.
Coming Back: Ramon Buchanan (107 career tackles and 13.5 for loss), Jimmy Gaines (59-3), and Denzel Perryman (69-6.5) return with starting experience. Kelvin Cain (32-1) also has a lot of experience. Tyrone Cornileus comes over from safety while Eddie Johnson and Gionni Paul return for their second seasons at Miami.
Buchanan (6-1/220/R-SR) -- The most experienced returning linebacker, Buchanan was having a solid senior season in 2011 before a knee injury ended it. He was granted a fifth year. He is out for spring.
Cain (6-3/240/JR) -- The best combination of size/speed/athleticism of the entire group, Cain has limited experience and just needs to continue learning and playing at a high level all the time.
Cornileus (6-1/210/JR) -- He signed with Miami as a linebacker but was immediately moved to safety. He's finally at linebacker and very athletic.
Gaines (6-3/230/JR) -- A part-time starter last season, Gaines was lightly recruited from high school but has a lot of experience.
Johnson (6-1/230/R-FR) -- A player who can play both inside and outside, Johnson was redshirted last season.
Rapheal Kirby (6-0/220/FR) -- A first year player, Kirby was heavily recruited from the state of Georgia. He can play inside or outside.
Paul (5-11/230/SO) -- A bit undersized, Paul saw some playing time last season and will try to get more involved this season.
Perryman (6-0/225/SO) -- After Spence he was Miami's best linebacker down the stretch last season. He is a lot like Spence on the field.
Josh Witt (6-2/215/FR) -- A first year player who just started school in January, Witt is a very athletic local prospect.
What to Expect: Buchanan is out for spring but projects as one of the starters on the outside. His absence will give the younger guys some good looks. Gaines returns as the starter in the middle. Perryman is probably the best linebacker on the team this spring and will likely win the job on the outside. Cain has all the tools to be very good. Cornileus may struggle a bit learning the position at first. Johnson, Kirby, Paul, and Witt all have the ability to make things happen as well, and just need reps.