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Friday, December 03, 2021

Another school from Florida will kick off our list.

The University of Miami comes in at No. 10 in the alligatorSports’ preseason college football rankings. 

The Hurricanes are coming off a disappointing 9-4 season in which they started 5-1 with wins over then-ranked FSU, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma.

Coach Randy Shannon, who received a new four-year contract in the offseason, has not won a bowl game in his three-year tenure with the Hurricanes.

But the expectations are high for Miami this season.

It returns quarterback Jacory Harris, who many believe will contend for the Heisman this year, along with the core of the receiving corp.

Senior Leonard Hankerson leads the group. Last season Hankerson led the team in catches (45), receiving yards (801) and touchdowns (6). Juniors Aldarius Johnson (276 receiving yards), Travis Benjamin (501) and LaRon Byrd (460) round out the receivers.

Miami is expected to use more of a west coast style offense this season to compensate for Harris’ arm. The coaches are implementing the new system in order to help limit Harris’ mistakes. He threw 17 interceptions last year, with most of them coming on deep passes.

But he should be receiving plenty of help in the form of a ground game.

With the departure of Javarris James and the knee injury to Graig Cooper, senior running back Damien Berry will get his chance.

Berry made the most of his opportunities last year as he averaged 6.6 yards per carry on 93 attempts. He is a physical back that often breaks the first tackle. This style should go a long way in helping offset Harris’ lack of mobility and weak arm.

The biggest question mark offensively will be Miami’s offensive line. It will need to make up for the loss of tackles Jason Fox and Matt Pipho, and center A.J. Trump.

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The Hurricanes defense will be a little younger this season, too.

Their biggest loss will come in the graduation of middle linebacker Darryl Sharpton. He led the squad with 106 tackles in his senior year before getting drafted in the fourth round of this year’s NFL draft by the Houston Texans.

Miami is expected to replace Sharpton with senior Colin McCarthy, who played outside linebacker last season.

While Miami lost its leader in the middle of the defense, the secondary remains in tact for the most part.

All-Atlantic Coast Conference junior cornerback Brandon Harris is coming off of a year in which he led the team in passes broken up with 15. He also had two interceptions and 58 tackles for the Hurricanes. He will team up in the secondary with senior DeMarcus Van Dyke to try to shut down the opposing receivers.

But Miami will have its hands full. Not only will it play a tough conference schedule, but the Hurricanes will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to take on Ohio State on Sept. 11.

With the contract extension , Shannon will be expected to lead Miami to its first Atlantic Coast Conference title under his reign, and the BCS bowl berth that comes with it.

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