Which second year player is the one to watch during the spring?
Allen Bailey came in here with a lot of hype. Unfortunately, he was a 270+ pound kid trying to make it at a position where UM has grown accustomed to having smaller, faster players. Randy Shannon announced earlier this month that Bailey will be playing defensive end this spring and I think that's a very interesting position switch. When Calais Campbell left early for the NFL, the Canes were left with just one proven defensive end in Eric Moncur. Sure, Courtney Harris has some experience on the other side but it's not much and certainly not enough to be considered a favorite to win the job over someone like Bailey if the talented second year player comes on strong in spring.
Jermaine McKenzie. He is a player that during last year's fall practice blew up for coaches. He didn't drop a single pass! He is a player that has really taken himself seriously as a player and put in ample time in the weight room and on the field to develop during his freshman season that didn't go as expected following the car accident that sidetracked both McKenzie and quarterback Robert Marve. With this group of wide outs in a bit of an unheaval with a new wide receiver coach in place. McKenzie is one of the players on the roster that has the most to prove (that he fully overcame his neck injury) and if he can dazzle as he did during last years fall practices. Either way, if Jermaine is on his game, he is not only an important player to watch, but a fun one as well as he can make all of the catches.
Damien Berry, Harland Gunn, and Jermaine McKenzie all have the ability to make a major impact in their second season for the Hurricanes, but you're kidding yourself if you say anybody but Robert Marve is the player to watch. The hopes of Miami's season will rest heavily on the right arm of the red-shirt freshman quarterback. Marve has great arm strength, leadership ability, and all the hype that comes with being the Hurricanes' next big thing at quarterback. He is expected to beat incoming freshmen Jacory Harris, and Cannon Smith for the starting job. Marve must establish himself as the unquestioned first stringer this spring and alleviate Coach Shannon the headache of taking a QB controversy well into August.
I expect most people will say Robert Marve or Jermaine McKenzie, so I'll be different. I have to go with Damien Berry. Berry was a special teams guru his first year and is a versatile player. He can line up at safety or nickel back, and in my conversations with Coach McGriff, I was told that Berry's best position may actually be in the slot at nickel. Our defensive backs are in dire straits right now. There's no depth at the position and we absolutely need one of those younger guys to step up and compete right away, or we're going to be in severe trouble.
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