Spring Preview: Cornerbacks

Spring football just started at the University of Miami so lets take a closer look at what the team will look like. Today, we look at the cornerback position.

Coach: Paul Williams enters his second season on Miami's coaching staff.

Lost: The Hurricanes lost three cornerbacks from the 2011 team -- JoJo Nicolas (141 career tackles and three interceptions), Mike Williams (29-0), and Lee Chambers (21-0). Nicolas spent most of his career as a backup safety before becoming a starting cornerback in 2011. Williams was a Wake Forest transfer and played just one season here. Chambers came over from running back after spending his first few years here on offense.

Coming Back: The Hurricanes return four cornerbacks -- starter Brandon McGee (55-1), Thomas Finnie (14-0), and career backups Davon Johnson (2-0) and Keion Payne (0). McGee was a starter for most of the season.

The Players:
Finnie (5-10/185/SO) -- One of the first players Al Golden flipped in recruiting after he got the job, the one-time South Carolina commitment played a lot as a freshman and should see a lot more action this fall.

Ladarius Gunter (6-2/195/JR) -- The Canes needed some experience so they dipped into the Juco ranks for Gunter, who will be the team's biggest cornerback this season.

Larry Hope (6-0/175/FR) -- He just graduated high school a couple months ago. He was a mid-range prospect who had a very good offseason workout program.

Johnson (5-11/185/R-SR) -- A carer backup at wide receiver, Johnson will play cornerback as a senior. His main role will be on special teams, however.

McGee (6-0/190/SR) -- A returning starter, McGee didn't have a good offseason and started the spring buried on the depth chart. A prep quarterback, McGee is very talented and could have a good year if he really wanted to.

Payne (5-10/175/R-SO) -- A local product, Payne has played in just three games in two seasons and began the spring suspended.

What to Expect: Finnie could be on the field a lot in nickel situations. Payne and Johnson are career backup types. Gunter and Hope had good offseasons and will get plenty of needed reps this spring. The biggest wildcard is McGee. If he steps up and plays well, he should solidify one corner spot until a group of freshmen arrive in the summer.


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