Spring practice begins

The athletic season at the University of Miami has officially peaked. The football team is now taking part in organized practices to accompany the baseball and men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Spring practice started Tuesday and the Miami Hurricanes will prepare to take their game to the next level starting with toughness.

Fourth-year head coach Randy Shannon expects his team to be more aggressive than during  previous spring practices. Shannon also said that his team will finally be able to have a strong depth chart beyond his first unit.

“This is going to be a different type of spring than we’ve been able to run at Miami,” Shannon said at a press conference Monday. “It’s probably the first time we can really get physical. Finally our numbers are up.”

The first step will be finding out who will get the majority of the snaps with starting quarterback Jacory Harris out the entire spring practice as he recovers from thumb surgery in January.

Quarterbacks A.J. Highsmith, Spencer Whipple and early enrollee Stephen Morris will compete for the No. 2 quarterback job.

“It’s a good opportunity,” Highsmith said. “I’m still working hard on and off the field, just trying to get better every day.”

The Hurricanes lost running back Javarris James to graduation and leading rusher Graig Cooper will continue his rehab after tearing his ACL in the Champ Sports Bowl. Lee Chambers will also miss the spring season.

Damien Berry will get the starting nod. Berry finished second in rushing with 616 yards and led the team with eight rushing touchdowns despite not getting a carry in the first four games.

Behind Berry will be Mike James and Lamar Miller. James saw the most of last season at fullback. With senior fullback Patrick Hill returning, James will move back to tailback. Miller was a threat every time he touched the ball.

The offensive line will be a concern in two different areas. The Canes will not have a center that took a single snap last season. Tyler Horn will run with the first team for spring practices.

At tackles, Orlando Franklin will move to left tackle. Shannon said Ben Jones would be the right tackle to start off spring practices.

On the defensive side, middle linebacker will be an issue. Miami lost Darryl Sharpton to the NFL and Arthur Brown moved home. Shannon said redshirt freshman Shayon Green, who missed the entire season with a severe knee injury, will get the nod to start off at middle linebacker.

The huge advantage this spring is that both sides of the ball will not have to learn a new playbook because defensive coordinator John Lovett and offensive coordinator Mark Whipple will return for their second seasons.

Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at lledoux@themiamihurricane.com.