Have there been true freshmen that have come in straight out of high school and helped the Canes over the years? Sure. Occasionally guys have rolled in and stepped up, but that’s not the norm.
Over the years Miami has been in situations where it had to rely on freshmen – back in the 90s due to the loss of scholarships and again this decade when Randy Shannon took over.
Late last decade it was Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, Joaquin Gonzalez, Ed Reed, et al who had to come in and play right away, due to a lack of depth. When you’re fielding a team with just over half its full compliment of players, you have no choice but to throw guys into the fire.
The tail end of Larry Coker’s tenure saw the numbers at different positions falling way out of whack. Take the overall number and add in the number of guys that didn’t meet expectations and now you’re way behind the eight ball.
If you’re recruiting properly in college football, there’s never an excuse for having a “young team”. Remember the old “we don’t rebuild, we reload” days? Part of the reloading process comes from having redshirt freshmen comparable to your graduating seniors.
These days it’s harder for a head coach to allow skill position guys to redshirt. If they take a shirt, you may only have them on the field for the next two years. If a guy is that amazing and you can already project him going to the NFL, he’s not going to redshirt, though that’s not the case for everybody. Sometimes we tend to water down that group in bit and in our minds we start considering ‘very good’ players a fit for that category, whey they simply aren’t.
Another reason I tire of “the question” – we have no idea how a guy’s game is going to translate from high school to college.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen some recruiting site-proclaimed “stud” walk on campus (with more accolades than a Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show winner) and waltz out to the practice field, only to get worked like he’s on the JV.
In high school athletic ability alone can carry you. In college, it all has to click upstairs.
I’m not saying this to make anyone feel bad and I won’t throw specific players under the bus, but there have been too many times recently where the phrase “deer in headlights” was an understatement.
In an era where big money recruiting websites and YouTube have us following kids through the entire high school experience, recruiting process and summer workouts – we think we know they’re ready to play, but that’s not always the case. Nor is it best for them personally or the team.
I guarantee when practice starts next week I’ll get a slew of questions about the new guys. Latwan Anderson. Seantrel Henderson. Chase Ford. Kevin Nelson. The list goes on.
Outside of relaying the news that they look good so far in practice, there’s really nothing else to be said. It’s a wait-and-see game and the fans need to understand that.
I’m sure Coach Shannon has an idea which freshmen will be able to step in immediately and who will need more time to acclimated to college and the speed of the game. Nothing is set in stone, but if a new guy isn’t picking up the offense or defense, he’s not going to play. No matter how amazing his highlight reel.
Due to numbers, some guys might get their chance to shine on special teams – but they’re simply not going to hit the two-deep if they’re not ready.
For those of you who still want to ask “the question”, at least wait until we’re a few days outside the season opener. At least then we’ll have some data to process. Give these guys a good month to get after it in the summer heat against some collegiate level competition. Many of these guys haven’t really practiced since their high school seasons ended. Give them some time.
I always come back to one guy when “the question” inevitably comes up. We’re talking about one of the top five receivers to come out of the University of Miami – ever – and he’s one of the best in the NFL today. Even when he arrived on campus, he had the build and physique of a grown man, but regardless of all that, Andre Johnson STILL redshirted. If No. 5 patiently sat on the bench, anybody can.
Be patient. Everybody will get their chance to shine when the time is right.
IN OTHER NEWS: Wednesday August 4th is the premier of allCanes Radio, hosted by yours truly. We’ll be broadcasting from 7pm to 9pm, live from Smoket (1450 South Dixie Highway) in Coral Gables.
If you can’t make it out, head over to allCanes.com to stream and / or download the Podcast. We have plenty of special guests on deck and an extremely entertaining and comprehensive Canes chat on deck. Don’t miss it and tune in all season!
Brian “The Beast” London is one of the foremost insiders on all things Miami Hurricanes. He was on the Canes broadcast crew for more than a decade and he hosts a daily online radio show on SoFloRadio.com.