The Hurricanes will be losing nine senior starters from their 2014 team. Two underclassmen are also expected to turn pro after the season. This blog entry will focus on who their replacements will likely be starting in 2015. We'll focus on offense today and then defense tomorrow.
WR Phillip Dorsett -- Stacy Coley
Dorsett is one of the fastest players to ever play here and was among the most explosive play-makers in all of college football over the last few seasons. Miami doesn't have anyone on its returning roster than can strike fear in opposing defenses like Dorsett can. Coley is the closest. Some believe it'll be Herb Waters but I went with Coley because I believe he has more upside for a huge season and is probably the most likely candidate to lead Miami in receiving yards next season. Getting Rashawn Scott back for another season will really help take some of the pressure off Coley but the coaching staff will likely work all offseason trying to find ways to get Coley the ball more down the field.
TE Clive Walford -- Standish Dobard
Walford will leave Miami as the school's all-time leading receiver at the tight end spot. He may not be the type of impact player that Jeremy Shockey or Kellen Winslow was here but he's had a tremendous career and he'll be tough to replace. Next in line is Dobard, who has a very impressive combination of size, speed, and athleticism. He's had limited pass-catching opportunities in his first two years so it's hard to tell whether he'll be able to effective come close to Walford's production as a junior but Dobard certainly has the skill set to become that type of player.
LG Jonathan Feliciano -- Alex Gall
Feliciano has been one of Miami's more underrated players over the last few years. His senior leadership this season and his ability to play both left guard and right tackle at times has been huge for the Hurricanes this season. He won't be easy to replace. While Trevor Darling, K.C. McDermott, and Taylor Gadbois compete for the two starting tackle spots, Gall should have the inside track to be the second guard. He was the team's third guard going into the season but injuries set him back. If he's able to come back 100-percent next season, which he's expected to, he should be clearly be Feliciano's replacement.
C Shane McDermott -- Nick Linder
Linder was recruited last year to be Miami's center of the future. When injuries took their toll on Miami's offensive line this season, he was able to start a few games at left guard. He'll likely be moved to his more natural position in the spring and he will have the inside track to winning the job. There's no doubt whether he'll be able to replace McDermott effectively considering how well he played as a true freshman at times this season at his less natural position.
In addition to losing those four senior starters, Miami will likely have to find replacements for a pair of juniors who will likely leave early for the NFL.
RB Duke Johnson -- Joseph Yearby
Simply put, Johnson was clearly Miami's best player over the last few seasons whenever he was on the field. The school's all-time leading rusher, Johnson was also a major weapon in the passing game (especially this season) and was among the nation's top kick returners prior to his injury last season. Miami does not have a running back on its roster that has Duke's ability but the closest one is Yearby. The talented freshman has excellent vision, balance, and running instincts. He needs to add more weight in order to take a lead back role in this offense and it'd be nice (although unlikely) if he were able to develop an extra gear in the offseason. Yearby has a very bright future here but expecting him to effectively replace Duke will be a tall order. Look for Gus Edwards and a pair of the 2015 running back commitments to all play a key role next season as well.
LT Ereck Flowers -- Trevor Darling
The Hurricanes will enter 2013 with three offensive tackles competing for two starting spots. Gadbois won the job at right tackle over Darling and McDermott to start the season but that was likely due to his edge in experience over the true freshmen. Plus, Gadbois is clearly better suited to play right tackle. Darling is a bit more athletic and will have more game experience than McDermott heading into 2015 so that's my pick here. If Flowers returns, it'll give Miami excellent depth at the tackle position but that's unlikely to happen. Ereck quietly developed into one of the best left tackles Miami's had in the last 20 years so he won't be easy to replace -- especially early in the season.