Spring Peek: DL

With the start of spring practice less than 2 weeks away, we will continue our position by position breakdown. In focus this time around is the defensive line. While the Canes always have had great players along the line, this bunch comes with relatively no experience and lots of potential. The Canes lost their top 6 from a year ago. Expect this position to be one of the most hotly contested battles.

Vince Wilfork (6'2 345) is the most experienced of this group. Wilfork dealt with his mother and father passing last year. Wilfork as a player is a beast with tremendous quickness for a man his size. A burgeoning run-stopper with a NFL like burst upfield. Looking to shed 30 pounds so he can become an everydown player.

Santonio Thomas (6'4 305) is coming off a season-ending pec injury. Thomas has fantastic physical ability and should be joining Wilfork as a starter. Turned away by Florida, Thomas has gotten better as a player each year and should continue to show his progress.

Orien Harris (6'4 285) should receive even more playing time this season. Harris filled in admirably when Santonio Thomas went down. Harris showed flashes of his enormous potential. Orien needs to work on becoming more consistent and that should only come with time.

Kareem Brown (6'5 275) has been playing both line positions as a scout teamer. While some feel he could play defensive end, he has grown into a defensive tackle. Brown is a spectacular talent who will impact the tackle spot this year and years following.

Baraka Atkins (6'5 260) also played both line slots on the scout team. Atkins has been making waves at defensive end and should compete for a starting spot there. Baraka just gets it done and he plays with good strength and leverage. Must work on his upfield burst.

John Wood (6-3 255) has really stepped it up this offseason and has looked very good in early workouts. He projects to be a heavy contributor at defensive end and possibly the starter opposite Alton Wright. Spring drills will show a lot as far as how Wood has progressed. Many players have singled him out for his work ethic.

John Square (6'5 215) has not been able to put on the desired weight to make an impact at defensive end. Square has tremendous speed and natural pass rushing tools. He should see some playing time this upcoming season as a situational pass-rusher.

Thomas Carroll (6'5 235) has the ability to play, but he must get stronger. Unlike Square, Carroll looks to be an impact player for the Canes sooner rather than later. Carroll should be a valuable contributor with another year in the weight room.

David Williams (6'3 245) is making the move from tight end to defensive end. Williams has tremendous athletic ability and his transition from position to position should be an easy one. Williams played defensive end in high school as well. Williams will compete for a spot in the rotation this spring.

Larry Anderson (6'4 270) has been a career backup thus far. Some feel Anderson may leave the program early to free up a scholarship. Anderson is a valuable practice commodity.

Alton Wright (6'5 250) is already in school participating in informal workouts with the team. Wright, a Juco transfer who originally signed with UM out of high school, has been getting rave reviews from his peers for his motor and his work ethic. Wright should compete for playing time at a wide-open spot at defensive end.

With the exception of Alton Wright, the rest of the Canes signing class are still in high school. Once the fall hits Bryan Pata and company will be focused on to see what kind of impact they may have and how they shape their various positions.

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