Friday Stock Report: 3/11

Tuesday was the first day of spring practices and there was plenty of excitement from the players, coaches, and fans. Practices are open to the public and resume March 22. Can this team improve on its 9-3 record from a year ago? Which players are poised for breakout seasons? Is it September 6th yet?

Spring Practices
Yes it is that time of year again--time for optimism for the fall season to begin. Who is coming back and who will step up? Those are two very simple questions asked every spring. For starters, Miami returns 14 of their top 15 leading tacklers including Greg Threat who led the team with 139 tackles—11.6 per game. On offense they return Tyrone Moss who has over 900 yards rushing in his career, four senior offensive linemen, and six of their top seven wide receivers. Now the questions is, who will step up? There are 12 practices remaining concluding with the spring game on April 9th, which gives guys enough time to show what they can do.

Quarterbacks
Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman are battling it out for the starting quarterback position. Wright, a sophomore from California, had a strong week showing off his arm strength, pocket presence, and the ability to make plays. Freeman, a freshman from Texas, had some bright moments in the first week, but has lacked consistency. Both players put a lot of pressure on themselves and are willing to go downfield to their receivers with confidence in their throwing ability. It will be the story of the spring, it always is, and head coach Larry Coker has stated he does not feel he has to name a starter by the end of spring practices. As of now, it looks like Wright has the upper hand on Freeman based on performance in the first three days and experience in the program. Don't be surprised if Wright is named the starter at some point during spring practices.

Moore & Leggett
Wide receivers Ryan Moore and Lance Leggett have been with the first team offense this week. With Sinorice Moss dealing with a quadricep injury and Darnell Jenkins dealing with an academic situation, they are getting all the repetitions they need to improve their game. Moore stands 6-foot-3 and Leggett is 6-foot-4. Moore is more athletic, but Leggett possess better speed. Both players have had a great start to spring practices and need to remain consistent in the final three weeks of practice.

Safeties
There was a lot of talk earlier in the week with who the starting safeties were going to be when Miami released it's pre-spring depth chart and Greg Threat was listed behind Brandon Meriweather at strong safety. Anthony Reddick was listed as the number one free safety. A reporter asked Coker in his press conference if that was correct and Coker responded by praising Meriweather as opposed to his leading tackler from a year ago. In practice Threat has been running with the first unit with Reddick with Meriweather working in at free safety. I would be extremely surprised if the coaching staff would not have their leading tackler in the starting lineup on September 5th. The real battle of the spring is between Reddick and Meriweather—not Threat and Meriweather.

Willie Williams
Finally linebacker Willie Williams was allowed to speak to the media. On Wednesday Williams met with reporters after practice for 6-7 minutes discussing the past year. He was very well spoken and thoughtful in his answers. On the field he is ready to ball. It doesn't take long when watching him to realize he is going to be a player. He has a natural ability to find the ball with great speed at the position. Watching Williams in high school, he is a guy that just makes plays. He definitely has talent and it is only a matter of time before he is in the starting lineup. His football skills are great, but it is his leadership skills that will allow him to be a great football player. Teammates from both sides of the ball are attracted to his personality and demeanor. He should be fun to watch. He already is.

CanesTime
This week in practice CanesTime delivered you the reader with multiple daily articles including player features, practice reports, and a new feature this year—practice photo galleries. The photo galleries are great for those out-of-town fans that don't get the opportunity to attend practices on a daily basis. We also would like to announce a new addition to our staff. Sean Fitzpatrick will be assisting in football recruiting coverage as well as day-to-day activities with the football team. Fitzpatrick joins David Lake, Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat, and David Hamilton as new additions to CanesTime in the past year.

Miami Hoops
The basketball team lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament to Virginia, 66-65. They appear to be heading to the NIT Tournament with a 16-12 record. The 40-team field for the NIT will be announced on Sunday with games beginning on Monday. Guillermo Diaz earned a spot on the All-ACC 2nd team and Robert Hite earned All-ACC Honorable Mention. Anthony King was named to the All-ACC Defensive Team. Only William Frisby and Brandon Okpalobi are seniors so the future is bright for head coach Frank Haith.

Miami Baseball
The team has a 14-4 record heading into a weekend series with Duke. Cesar Carrillo, Dan Touchet, and Ricky Orta are the scheduled starters. What has been amazing with this team 18 games into the year is the play of Jon Jay and Ryan Braun. Jay is batting an astounding .536 on the year. Jay, only a sophomore, has qualified for Miami's career average list and is currently second with a .406 average—only trailing Pat Burrell who had a .436 career average. Ryan Braun is on pace for 93 RBI this year—the school record is 95 by Aubrey Huff in 1998.

Christopher Stock is a Senior Writer & Assistant Editor for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com.

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