Darryl Sharpton missed the spring with an undisclosed injury, but participated in a rehab work and will be ready to go in August.
Sharpton, who has added strength and weight to his frame, is looking to be the team's starting middle linebacker this season. Last year, Sharpton started five games late in the season and finished with 41 tackles. H was named to the third-team Freshman All-America team.
He is not the same undersized individual he was when he arrived at UM in 2005. Some assistant coaches felt Sharpton was the prize of the '05 recruiting class even though Sharpton was the second-lowest ranked player of the class (only fellow linebacker Demetri Stewart was ranked lower).
Now it is time to shine. This is his third year in the program and he has the opportunity to showcase his talents on the main stage this season.
Sharpton is known for being great against the run and tackles very well. He covers sideline to sideline with his speed and instincts, something UM has lacked in the middle since Jonathan Vilma left in 2003.
Vilma hails from the same high school as Sharpton, which Sharpton will always receive comparisons too even though they have different personalities and playing styles. Sharpton is a very loose individual and often cracks jokes.
While Sharpton is looking to hold it down in the middle, Colin McCarthy is ready to emerge as well.
McCarthy can play either outside linebacker position and excels against the run. He attacks the holes very well and is one of the better run-stopping linebackers on the team. This spring McCarthy took a big step in landing a starting position. He was praised by the assistant coaches and by teammates.
Last season, as a true freshman, McCarthy primarily played special teams and getting on the field was hard. Although, some within the program believed he would have received more playing time on defense if he had not suffered a pulled hamstring.
Look for McCarthy to earn a starting position this fall if he continues to make plays in practice, work hard, and learn the defense. The defense needs playmakers and based on his performance this spring, McCarthy is a guy that can make plays.
OTHERS TO WATCH: Seniors Glenn Cook, Tavares Gooden, and Romeo Davis could be fighting for the final starting position in the 4-3 base defense if Sharpton and McCarthy earn the other two spots.
All three have been starters throughout their careers (Cook in 2006, Davis in 2005, and Gooden in 2004).
Each one presents something different to the team and Cook might be the best fit considering his knowledge and versatility. Davis fell out of coach Randy Shannon's plans last season and Gooden has not been the same player he was before his injuries began in 2005.
Christopher Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
2007: Look Out for Sharpton and McCarthy
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