Tano: The popular choice will probably be Graig Cooper, and truth be told it's hard to pick against him. He's the freshman that's poised to get the most playing time on the offensive side of the football (depending on what happens in the battle between Orlando Franklin and Andrew Bain). He'll also be in the mix in the return game, so he'll have extra chances to make an impact. It wouldn't be surprising to see him get 10-15 touches a game. Defensively, I'd have to go with DeMarcus Van Dyke. Van Dyke has climbed his way up the depth chart during the fall and actually has a chance to start the first game. Each of the past several years, Miami has had great success with giving young corners considerable playing time. Kelly Jennings and Glenn Sharpe in 2002 (freshmen), Antrel Rolle in 2003 (sophomore), Randy Phillips in 2005 (freshman), and Chavez Grant last year (freshman). It wouldn't be surprising to see that trend continue.
Cole: DeMarcus Van Dyke. I am going to stay away from Graig Cooper here, and not because I don't think he will be a playmaker for this team, but simply because I am sure my fellow writers have already discussed him at length. Cooper will be our playmaker on special teams and out of the backfield when spelling Javarris James. His ability in the open field is something we haven't had to utilize in a few years on offense, especially at the running back position. He will make a significant contribution early and often. He is a player that prides himself on excellence and learning from his mistakes and from the best in the film room. His understanding of what it takes to be a playmaker is vital to his success and he has it.
Now, away from Graig Cooper, who will be phenomenal for this team. DeMarcus Van Dyke is a legit lockdown corner. Now, whether or not he can be that player in his first year is paramount to how well this defense plays. His physical style of play can take opposing wide outs of out their games. You saw what a physical silky smooth cover corners like Chris Houston and what he was able to do last year for Arkansas or Fred Smoot at Mississippi State or Phillip Buchanan and Kelly Jennings were able to do at Miami. Those types of corners are able to shut down physically superior wide receivers and disrupt an offense.
This is the type of play I expect and believe we will get from "DVD". We are going to be facing numerous big, physical wide outs this season like Greg Carr (6-6, 200lbs) at Florida State, Malcolm Kelly (6-4 217lbs) at Oklahoma, Justin Harper (6-4 195lbs) at Virginia Tech, Kevin Ogletree (6'3 190lbs) at Virginia, even Marshall will run out wide receivers who run 6-3, 190lbs and 6-6, 200lbs. (Darius Passmore and Shawn Louzan) so he will be tested. However, I feel his physical nature will have him end up the victor in many matchups over the season, even as a true freshman.
Being able to have your corners cover wide receivers without multiple players covering one player allows ample opportunity to get to the quarterback via the blitz which is always a key to winning football games.
Bakas: I think it's a toss-up between Cooper and Van Dyke. I don't think you could go wrong by choosing either one. Both players are coming off tremendous fall camps and both players are expected to play key roles heading into the start of the season. I'm going to choose Cooper for a couple reasons. One, it hasn't been terribly uncommon for a true freshman to make an impact in the secondary. Kenny Phillips did it. Anthony Reddick did it. Even Chavez Grant played a key role by the end of last season. Van Dyke could go out and have a lights out freshman year and it just wouldn't catch people's attention like it would if a running back were to do it.
The Canes need excitement in their offense again. Sure, they need to score points and win games but the most important part of turning things around offensively is having big plays. It will allow you to score more points. It'll put more people in the seats, it'll be more attractive to the recruits, and most importantly it'll help this team win more football games. Cooper is making a serious run at Javarris James and his starting spot. I think Cooper will get a lot of opportunities and the impact he can have there and as a punt returner could be huge and could be the difference in a game or two this season. We saw Percy Harvin do some things at Florida last season that helped them win a national title. Would they have done it without him? Who knows. I think Cooper will have close to that type of impact at UM this fall.
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