Post-Spring Projected Starters: Offense

Spring practices are over, so who will start on offense this season? Here's a look at projected starters with explanations why these 11 will start in the Sept. 1 opener against Marshall.

QUARTERBACK: Kyle Wright, Sr.

2006 Stats: 1,655 yards, 8 TD, 7 INT

Look for Wright to get the starting nod from coach Randy Shannon on Aug. 28 when he announces the starting quarterback. Wright was steady, not spectacular, in the three open spring scrimmages as he battled Kirby Freeman. Wright has beaten out Freeman the last two springs and only lost his starting position during the season due to injury. Are the things Wright needs to improve on? Absolutely. But with a solid offensive line and a sense of urgency, Wright should put together a good senior year.

RUNNING BACK: Javarris James, Soph.

2006 Stats: 802 yards, 4.7 avg, 4 TD

Players and coaches echoed the same statements when discussing James this spring--he has taken his game to another level. James learned a lot as a true freshman after starting 10 games and is working hard to improve on his numbers from a year ago. Look for James to be more of a factor in the passing game as well after catching 17 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown last year. James has improved his strength and gets tough yardage. He's being pressured by incoming freshman Graig Cooper, which will help James stay on top of his game.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Darnell Jenkins, Sr.; Lance Leggett, Sr.; and Sam Shields, Soph

2006 Stats: Jenkins (13 receptions, 83 yards, 0 TD), Leggett (38-584-4), Shields (37-501-4)

Look for Miami to play a lot of three wide receiver sets, which is one reason why wide receivers coach Marquis Mosely does not want any of his four incoming signees to redshirt. He wants them all to play and if UM is going to run three or four receivers out a lot, then they are going to need depth. Jenkins, Leggett, and Shields are UM's top receivers and are a unique group. Jenkins has excellent speed and makes the tough catches. Leggett is really starting to put things together and is a tough matchup problem with his size and speed. Shields has great hands, good speed, and a knack for making the big play.

TIGHT END: DajLeon Farr, Jr.

2006 Stats: 3 receptions, 16 yards, 0 TD

Farr had one of the best spring performances on the team. He only has four catches in his career at UM, but is ready to take on the starting role this season. Farr is the best offensive threat amongst the tight ends and is improving on his blocking. Chris Zellner, also a junior, has the most experience and Dedrick Epps, a sophomore, is still progressing. Look for the 6-foot-5 Farr to earn the starting role and make plays in 2007.

LEFT TACKLE: Jason Fox, Soph.

Fox started four games at left tackle last season and eight games at right tackle. He did not allow a sack all season and is now being groomed as the team's left tackle. The switch to left tackle is a great decision by offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland because Fox is clearly the team's best offensive lineman. The reason why he played so much at right tackle last year was because Reggie Youngblood had only played left tackle in his career. Stoutland sent a clear message to Youngblood this spring with Fox not participating in any live action, but Youngblood played right tackle the majority of the time. Fox will be a prime candidate for All-ACC honors in 2007.

LEFT GUARD: Andrew Bain, Sr.

Bain needs to step up. That is the bottom line. Forget the past, this is his senior year. He needs to put it all together. Coming out of Ely High School in 2003, Bain was the 14th-ranked offensive lineman in the country by Scout.com. He was graded out to 73 percent last year while starting all 13 games. That has to improve. Bain is a relatively athletic player, who excels in the classroom. For UM to be successful on offense, Bain is one of the keys.

CENTER: Derrick Morse, Sr.

Morse was moved to center this spring after starting 12 games at right guard last year. Morse has battled injuries throughout his career and also needs to have a solid senior year, which offensive linemen tend to do. If Morse can learn the center responsibilities and develop into a leader, the UM offensive line should be able to hold up this year.

RIGHT GUARD: Chris Rutledge, Jr.

This is where things get tricky. Rutledge was one of the surprises of the spring after moving inside despite being a tackle in his first three years. Rutledge has improved his physique since arriving to UM, however a number of players are in the running for this position including Tyrone Byrd, Chris Barney, A.J. Trump, Matt Pipho, and Cyrim Wimbs. Also, freshmen Orlando Franklin and Harland Gunn could challenge for the starting position as well.

RIGHT TACKLE: Reggie Youngblood, Jr.

Youngblood had an injury-filled 2006 campaign which sat him down twice throughout the year. He was the team's starting left tackle last year, but he is expected to make the switch to right tackle allowing Fox to handle the left tackle duties. Youngblood has been solid in his career, but is looking to be that dominant linemen the Canes envisioned when they saw him play at Booker T. Washington High School in Houston, Texas. Youngblood might be better suited for guard at some point in his career because of his size, but his long arms and pass-blocking ability keeps him on the oustide.

Christopher Stock can be reached at stock@canestime.com

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