Even with all the players they lost in the backfield and on the line, the offense is still a unit loaded with talent and one that will sprinkle pro-prospects from round one through the late frames of the draft over the next few years, so much so that we will start up front and work backwards. UM has a trio of second day picks from the ranks of the blockers. Sherko Haji-Rasouli was injured late in the year last season but at the top of his game is a dominant lineman blocking for either the run or pass. He combines power, fundamentals and smarts to get the job done, constantly overwhelming defenders, staying with his assignments and looking to help out linemates if no one is in front of him. Haji-Rasouli is not the greatest athlete and good in limited schemes, but is perfectly suited for a straight-ahead running game with a pocket passer. Brett Romberg is everyone's All American at center and deservedly so. Explosive off the snap, he is another with solid technique and a lineman with a great feel for the game and his position. Effective on the second level, Romberg displays solid abilities blocking on the move. He is not big or dominant and may have problems handling one-on-one blocking assignments at the next level but could be a very good back-up/developmental prospect and could grow into the position in time. Ed Wilkins did a great job stepping in last season and now moves into a starting guard position. With a solid senior campaign he may find his way into the late rounds. This program has put a plethora of talented pass catchers into the draft, many that have become All Pro's at the next level. The next in line, and a first round choice whenever he enters the draft (assuming he stays on the straight and narrow) comes in the form of Andre Johnson. Johnson is a huge target but also a tough receiver that will lay out over the middle or extend in a crowd to make the difficult catch. His eye/hand coordination is good, the hands even better and leaping ability outstanding. Johnson displays great body control, adjustment and abilities to get separation from opponents. His speed would be classified as "deceptive" as he's constantly making big plays down the field. Pre-draft clockings are important for the junior whenever he enters the draft, though not as important as Johnson staying out of trouble, as a cheating scandal almost cost him a suspension from the program. The team has another pair of junior wide outs to watch. Kevin Beard is a nice sized target best in the short to intermediate field while Ethnic Sands is an agile, flexible game breaker that has opponents playing back on their heels and could move into the early frames down the road if he takes his game to another level. One prospect that will get a lot of ink and debate leading up to next April's draft is quarterback Ken Dorsey. Dorsey is a terrific collegiate quarterback that works well with all his weapons and competently leads the offense. He has a great feel for the game and his position, reading the defense and making good decisions from the pocket. That said he does not necessarily translate all that well to the next level as the arm strength and mobility is below par and has he's been the beneficiary of immense talent playing around him. That said there has to be a happy medium for a player with his production and mental skills at quarterback. To our minds he is a lot like former Buckeye signal caller Joe Germaine and in the end, will be a middle round choice like the OSU product.
The defense lost the entire starting secondary last season, three of which were selected in round one, plus their top nickel man. So why can this year's unit be more dominant? Simple; the sheer force of the front seven will relieve the pressure on the defensive backfield. That said you are looking at three-to-four potential round one picks on this side of the ball. Again, we begin up front on the line. William Joseph has been highly rated by us since August of 2000. He is a powerful and dominant lineman that cannot be blocked by just one opponent and constantly demands double teams, at time defeating two opponents at once. Quick off the snap, Joseph displays excellent body control, balance and constantly wreaks havoc in the opponents backfield. Not without fault, his speed, instincts and range are below par but Joseph can be used at tackle or as a two-gap end and possesses a great amount of upside potential, which amounts to an early pick in 2003. Lineman number two that would find his way into the initial frame should he leave college is third-year sophomore Vince Wilfolk, an explosive tackle that came on like gangbusters last season and by year's end was one of the better front-four players on the Hurricane team. Wilfolk possesses a great first step off the snap, plays low with leverage and displays a burst of closing speed in either a straight-line or laterally, making him effective defending the run or pass. He plays with balance, power and heart. If Wilfolk continues the progression he started from the middle of last season he will be a very early choice should he decide to opt for the '03 draft. The final potential first round pick of this group, though it would be in the later part of the frame, is Jerome McDougle, an athletic lineman that is quick, fast and absolutely relentless, chasing the action anywhere on the field. McDougle works to defend the run or rush the passer, constantly flying around the ball making plays. Naturally a 250/255-pound player, McDougle does have growth potential but is a little shorter than one would like in a true end. Still, an added 15 pounds and fast times next February will move him up charts. Likewise defensive tackle Matt Walters is a bit undersized but plays with great quickness, explosion and hustle. At times he seems to be the first player on the field to know the snap count and looks as though he was shot out of a cannon, which gives opposing lineman fits trying to adjust as he comes off the ball. Walters plays with amazing leverage, making the task of blocking him that much more complicated for those trying to block him. Walters is nary mentioned amongst this group, which is a shame as he is justifiably a middle round choice. Jamal Green and Andrew Williams are both senior defensive ends that will get into a camp in a year and could move into the later rounds if they post good workouts prior to the draft. The next potential first round choice, though a long shot for '03 as of now, would be junior linebacker DJ Williams. Williams is an outstanding athlete who combines speed and power, forcing the action up the field while displaying range in pass coverage. He needs a lot of work on his overall game and must become quicker recognizing the action, but has great upside potential and has a great future. Another underclassman, Jon Vilma, has those instincts and does a terrific job reading and anticipating the action, constantly positioning himself to make a play on the ball. Barely 220-pounds, Vilma gets caught up in the wash and is slowed by blocks, which hampers him. To this point we would not put him in the class of another smallish but explosive inside linebacker, former Hurricane Nate Webster. Outside linebacker Howard Clark has had an up and down career but should get extensive playing time next season as a senior and a good campaign could translate into a late round pick.