O-Line could be the strength of the team

The offensive line could be the strength of the entire team this season. With a good combination of talent and experience across the board, it'll be interesting to see the progress they make under second year coach Jeff Stoutland.

Chris Barney, 6-5, 340, JR
Tyrone Byrd, 6-5, 295, SR
Joel Figueroa, 6-3, 330, SO
Jason Fox, 6-6, 290, JR
Orlando Franklin, 6-6, 325, SO
Harland Gunn, 6-2, 300, rFR
Tyler Horn, 6-4, 290, rFR
Benjamin Jones, 6-6, 310, FR
Matt Pipho, 6-6, 290, JR
Chris Rutledge, 6-5, 325, SR
Xavier Shannon, 6-1, 295, SR
Ian Symonette, 6-8, 340, JR
A.J. Trump, 6-3, 295, JR
Reggie Youngblood, 6-5, 305, SR

The offensive line is the most experienced and proven position on the offensive side of the ball for the Hurricanes and they're hoping the development will continue for a lot of the players. While all starting jobs will be up for grabs when fall camp starts, most people have a pretty good idea of who the main starters will likely end up being when the start of the season rolls around.

Tackles Jason Fox and Reggie Youngblood have anchored those spots the last couple seasons for the Canes. Youngblood, who started his career on the left side of the line, came to Miami as a five-star prospect out of Texas and while he's had decent career up to this point, the Canes are hoping he can put together a big time senior season. Fox is one of the top left tackles in the conference and has improved each year he's been here. He didn't have all the offers Youngblood and some of the others had coming out of high school but his size, quick feet, and strong work ethic have enabled him to enjoy a very good career so far.

The coaches seem very excited about the two sophomore guards – Orlando Franklin and Joel Figueroa. Both are massive guys in the middle who bring a lot of size and strength to the middle. It's hard to think that they won't be able to open up some big holes up the middle in the running game this season. Both are just sophomores and thus, still learning in a lot of ways but they both have a big upside, have shown a lot of promise early in their careers, and have people very excited about the future of the interior offensive line.

When Xavier Shannon transferred here from FIU, it was pretty clear that he was going to be a leading candidate to become the team's starting center this season. A fifth year senior, Shannon has experience playing all the line positions but he seems destined to become the team's center. He had a successful spring and has ideal size and strength to anchor the middle of UM's line this season.

While those five guys are the projected starters, there will be plenty of competition for some of the other spots. Senior Chris Rutledge has starting experience and has experience playing both guard and tackle. He'll be an excellent sixth man for the Canes this season – someone who can play either guard position or either tackle position. He, too, is coming off a very good spring.

Chris Barney, Tyrone Byrd, Matt Pipho, Ian Symonette, and A.J. Trump all have game experience for the Hurricanes and while the five of them didn't play a whole lot last season, they'll be counted upon to provide depth for the Canes this season. Harland Gunn and Tyler Horn, both interior linemen, redshirted in 2007 and will work to provide depth in the middle. Gunn was a high school All-American and seems to have a lot of physical tools to play either guard or center.

Perhaps the only disappointment in what was a Top 5 recruiting class for the Hurricanes this year was the fact that they signed just two offensive linemen – tackle Benjamin Jones and guard Brandon Washington – when they probably needed more. It didn't help when Washington was unable to gain admission into UM and enrolled at Milford Prep Academy. Jones, who has a tremendous combination of size, long arms, and quick feet, is a good athlete and could be groomed to be the left tackle of the future.

After the first six guys, who have a chance to be a very strong unit and perhaps the strength of the entire team this season, there's not many experienced or proven players so that'll be one of the keys going into fall camp. The Hurricanes will look to develop depth and to continue bringing some of the young linemen along well.


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