Five Potential Breakouts For The Miami Hurricanes
By Ryan Lacey
In order for the Miami Hurricanes to have a breakout season and contend for an ACC championship, like most believe, some players are going to have to raise their level of play. Fortunately for Miami, there are plenty of breakout candidates on a roster filled with talented, young players.
Defense is clearly where the biggest improvement needs to be made. The Hurricanes were one of the worst teams in the FBS in about every measurable statistic, partly because so many freshmen and sophomores saw playing time. While there are plenty of talented athletes on defense, these kids are going to have to step up if Miami wants to win the program's first conference title.
Things appear brighter on offense with a strong nucleus returning. However, that doesn’t mean a few players can’t step up and contribute. Graduation losses always create opportunities, and it will be no different this year.
Below are the top five breakout candidates for Miami heading into the 2013 season.
5) Herb Waters: Waters finished 2012 strong: 195 receiving yards and two touchdowns in last two weeks against South Florida and Duke. That, combined with an excellent offseason and spring, has him slated to start at wide receiver in 2013.
Competition will be high at the wide receiver position, but if Waters can become a reliable target for quarterback Stephen Morris, he will get his opportunities. Morris likes to spread the ball around. His 21 touchdowns were completed to nine players. But the chemistry developed at the end of 2012 might be a sign of things to come with Waters.
4) Deon Bush: The safety was second team freshman All-American in 2012 and flashed the ability to make plays by forcing three fumbles in six starts. Although the group was burned by long passes all season, Bush is a four-star recruit who should get better with more experience.
There is a good chance that all four of Miami’s starting secondary will be sophomores (Rayshawn Jenkins, Tracy Howard and Antonio Crawford). Bush will have to step up and be the leader of that group as offenses in the ACC continue to get more explosive.
3) Dallas Crawford: With all the hoopla surrounding Duke Johnson and his quest for the Heisman, reserve running back Dallas Crawford is being overlooked. At 5-foot-10, 196 pounds, Crawford got a few carries at the end of the season and will be in line for far more in 2013. Without workhorse Mike James and new offensive coordinator James Coley wanting to keep a balanced offense, one running back will not be enough to carry the load.
Johnson also has durability questions, which will help Crawford get plenty of carries. With an excellent offensive line in front of them, whoever carries the ball should be able to make plays.
2) Denzel Perryman: After all the Miami Hurricanes have gone through during the last several seasons, the school still produces outstanding linebackers. Perryman appears to be next in that line.
Perryman was solid as a sophomore, earning third team All-ACC honors, finishing second in the team in tackles after making the freshman All-American team the year before. Perryman’s progressed was stunted by the general malaise the entire defense seemed to be under, but with the group coming of age, Perryman has a chance to have a big season.
1) Anthony Chickillo: If this list was comprised in 2012, Chickillo would have probably made the cut as well. After registering five sacks as a freshman, many believed he was on his way to bigger and better things.
However, Chickillo was inconsistent last year, rarely generating pressure and coming up with just four sacks. Teams were able to key ion him as the rest of the line was not capable of winning 1-on-1 matchups. The lack of a pass rush proliferated to the entire defense, and the pressure is on Chickillo to have a rebound season in 2013.
How Chickillo responds to this pressure is one of the biggest questions the defense has to face this season.
Don't forget Morris himself . . . he can vault himself right into the middle of the conversation about five most-draftable QBs.