The Quarterback: Chase Rettig. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, the junior is due back for his third season as the Eagles starter. He finished last season with 1,960 yards, 12 touchdowns, and nine interceptions while completing 54-percent of his passes. He finished his sophomore season on a high note, having one of the best games of his career. It came against the Canes, when he completed 13-of-17 for 196 yards and two scores while leading the Eagles to a seven-point win last November. He has 18 career touchdowns and 18 career picks heading into his junior season. He appears to be a middle-of-the-pack quarterback in the ACC heading into 2012.
Best Offensive Player: Chris Pantale. At 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, the rising senior has turned in a few good seasons for the Eagles already. He finished last season with 21 catches for 236 yards and three scores, including a 4/70/2 line against the Canes in the season finale. He has 77 career receptions to go along with being a very skilled blocker. He's a major weapon in the red zone and has already carved Miami's defense up once.
Top Defensive Player: Kevin Pierre-Louis. At 6-foot-1 and 245 pounds, the rising junior was the team's second leading tackler last season behind All-American Luke Kuechly. Pierre-Louis is heading into his third season as the starter and has 167 total tackles over those first two seasons. He was rather quiet (two tackles) against the Canes last season but is the best of what appears to be a mediocre defense heading into the season.
2012 Outlook: The Eagles defeated just three Division 1 opponents last season and their best player is now in the NFL. However, that doesn't tell the whole story. They were a much better team down the stretch than they were to start the season -- a sign of a well-coached team. The Eagles defeated Maryland, NC State, and Miami over the final five weeks of the season and also lost to Notre Dame by just two points. The defense lost its heart and soul and may struggle some early on but Rettig gives them good leadership on the offensive side of the ball. They'll likely be competing for a bowl bid in 2012.