And It Begins ...

Will Kyle Wright unseat Brock Berlin at starting quarterback and blow up Larry Coker's assertion that Berlin has a strong grip on the position? Is Tyrone Moss ready for a full-time job at running back? Can Kevin Everett hold off Greg Olsen at tight end? Those are just some of the questions the Hurricanes will be looking to answer when they begin spring practice today at Greentree Field.

UM, coming off an 11-2 season that included an Orange Bowl victory over Florida State last January, will conduct 15 practice sessions, culminating with the April 17th spring game. Until then Coker will be busy addressing several key openings in camp.

"We're all going in with open minds. I want guys to look over their shoulders a little bit and understand that nobody's job is safe," said Coker. "We want guys to be challenged and pushed to the edge. Just because a player has a starting job now doesn't mean he's going to have one two months from now."

That's certainly a possibility at quarterback even though Coker said earlier this month he expects Berlin to start the season-opener against Florida State. But that doesn't mean Wright - a favorite among UM fans - won't make Coker's decision a difficult one. The 6-4, 215-pounder redshirt freshman, who took part in the Hurricanes' scout team last season, has done everything to impress the coaching staff thanks to his rifle-like right arm, speed, size and maturity.

Wright, the 2002 Gatorade National Player of the Year, got a head start at UM after graduating early from Monte Vista High in Calif. Now, Wright is ready to wrestle the starting quarterback duties away from Berlin. And that's music to Coker's ear - even after giving Berlin a vote of confidence.

"I'll talk with Kyle Wright and Derrick (Crudup) and will tell them this, especially Kyle Wright, You just don't wait until next year. I want you to go in and take somebody's job," said Coker. "If you're good enough to do that, then we're a better team."

Berlin threw 17 interceptions to go with 12 touchdowns last season as he struggled to find any consistency. However, Coker noted that Berlin completed 68 percent of his passes in the 16-14 bowl victory over the Seminoles, while adding that another year of experience should benefit the former Gator.

Coker will also keep an eye on sophomore running back Tyrone Moss, who is expected to fill the starter's role in place of Frank Gore (knee surgery). Moss, who rushed for 511 yards in 11 games last season, gives the Hurricanes versatility in the backfield with a combination of strength and speed. Coker says that junior Quadtrine Hill will provide depth at the position. Gore, who will be held out of spring practice, could return for fall practice.

"We need some guys to step up at running back," said Coker.

While Coker aims for running back help, tight ends Kevin Everett and Greg Olsen could make the departure of Kellen Winslow easier to swallow. Everett, a senior, is the early favorite to replace Winslow after limited playing time a year ago. The 6-6, 242-pounder had nine receptions for 90 yards and three touchdowns, while displaying exceptional speed for a player his size. Olsen, who could end up as the starting longsnapper, transferred from Notre Dame.

Except for April 2nd at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale and the April 17 spring game at the Orange Bowl practice sessions are closed to the public, unless otherwise noted.

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