With the season opener against Boston College just 10 days away, the fight for many of the starting jobs on the football field is starting to wind down.
The Hurricanes released an updated depth chart on Monday afternoon, just a few days after the team completed its second and final scrimmage of the fall on Saturday. But while the team is still out there competing, the final starting units could still change before the season begins.
“I don’t think it’s going to be the same lineup every day [in camp],” coach Al Golden said. “They’re going to keep competing. I think there are a lot of guys on the same level. I don’t think we’re ready to settle into that yet. We still have a long way to go and I don’t want to get complacent there.”
Although players are expected to move up and down the depth chart as the season opener nears, all are aware of the challenges that some of the younger players present to them. Junior cornerback Ladarius Gunter, who has been competing with freshman Tracy Howard in the backfield, recognizes that the older players aren’t necessarily guaranteed positions.
“They come out and go hard every day,” he said. “There’s always that feeling about losing your job, of not wanting to miss a practice because the guy behind you might just take your spot.”
Although they’re listed on the depth chart as freshmen, that’s not to say they’re playing at that rookie level.
“These guys are pretty far advanced for being freshmen,” senior safety Vaughn Telemaque said. “Like Coach Golden says, they believe that they are not young guys. They believe they can help this team right away.”
The team won’t begin to look at Boston College until Friday, but is currently in the process of cutting down the travel team to about 60 players. Golden said that some decisions have been made but that there were a few players who “really need to compete here over the next few days.”
Junior offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, who had not practiced during fall camp, was spotted on the practice field Wednesday. Although he resumed practice, he is still, for the time being, listed behind freshman Ereck Flowers and junior Jermaine Johnson at right tackle.
Flowers, in particular, has impressed coaches and players alike.
“He’s working hard every day and getting better,” sophomore guard Jonathan Feliciano said. “We’re excited to see what he can bring.”
But as the position battles continue, some veteran Hurricanes are savoring their remaining time on the team.
“This is my last camp. Everything is standing out right now,” Telemaque said. “I’m appreciating everything, just thanking God every day for the opportunity. A lot of people don’t get this opportunity to come back and be at the University of Miami.”
There is still work to be done, but Golden believes the team is further along than it was at this point last year.
“It’s been a very fun camp,” he said. “What the team lacks in age and experience, they’re making up for in ‘want-to’. In terms of team maturity, it’s much different.”