The Miami Hurricanes are set to host the newly crowned ACC Coastal Champions, Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday. The Hurricanes will also have its senior day for the last group of Hurricanes that were recruited by Al Golden. Equally important, Miami’s group of seniors all took different paths to become Hurricanes. They also helped the team achieve 10 wins for the first time last season. Some players have been here for five years. And they have finally found a role on the team in which they’ve thrived in.
Super Seniors (Class of 2014)
Miami’s 2014 class was ranked the number 12 class in the nation by 247 Sports. Some of the more notable names in that class are Chad Thomas, David Njoku, Christopher Herndon, Brad Kayaa and Braxton Berrios. All of the mentioned names were NFL draft picks and some set school records.
Miami was able to sign some hometown standouts that are currently making an impact on the program. Players like Mike Smith, Trayone ‘Choc’ Gray, Demetrius Jackson, Darrell Langham, and Terry McCray are all from south Florida. Each had their opportunity to leave the program as graduates. They still have a year remaining but opted to stay. Gray, in his fifth season, has found a role as the team’s starting fullback. Smith is a valuable backup linebacker, that started against Virginia Tech.
After winning national championships in high school at Booker T Washington, Jackson opted to stay home for the Hurricanes. He’s undergone adversity battling back from a knee injury, in arguably his best season. The most noteworthy accomplishments from Jackson are off of the field. His turkey drives during the holidays have fed hundreds of families.
For the second straight year, Canes defensive end Demetrius Jackson is in Overtown, handing out turkeys and Thanksgiving dinners. Joining him today are teammates Michael Jackson, Nesta Silvera and Pat Bethel. pic.twitter.com/CMIF7NGHgw
— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) November 19, 2018
Another noteworthy member of this class is Malik Rosier. Notably, Rosier was the starting quarterback last year. Coming out of high school, Miami was the only power five school which offered Rosier. However, Rosier still managed to become a starter and set the school record of 31 touchdowns in a season. He also became an integral part of Miami winning ten games last season.
Some players that initially started out in other programs have been very good for the Hurricanes. Headlining the group is Gerald Willis. Willis is a New Orleans native that signed with the Florida Gators out of high school. In fact, the senior has turned his life around at Miami after sitting last season. Willis leads the ACC in tackles for loss and recently was invited to the Senior Bowl. Some mock drafts have even projected him as being a first-round draft pick.
— Gerald Willis III (@gw3_9) November 14, 2018
Tito Odenigbo is a graduate transfer from the University of Illinois and has been a valuable reserve this season. Jhavonte Dean is from Miami but attended junior college in Texas before becoming a Hurricane. He’s among the group of valuable reserve players that impact Miami’s defense. Currently, Dean is tied with the team lead in interceptions with three.
Impact Seniors (Class of 2015)
All things considered, Mark Richt was lucky to inherit a group of players that had so many leaders. Notably, players such as Jaquan Johnson and Michael Jackson had the option to leave early last season for the NFL. Their senior seasons haven’t gone as planned. However, the group has remained steadfast on leaving the University of Miami on a high note.
Comparatively, on offense, Tyler Gauthier has been a multi-year starter at the center position. Tyree St.Louis has started for three seasons. St. Louis provided flexibility being able to play left tackle this year. Jahair Jones has given Miami valuable reps this season at guard.
Defensively this group of players will be sorely missed, especially in the secondary. Most of the attention has been on Jackson and Johnson. In fact, Sheldrick Redwine has outplayed both this season. With three interceptions and three sacks, his versatility to do whatever needed cannot be replaced. Now, Miami will miss the leadership that the seniors brought. With the majority of the team being underclassmen, Miami was able to have the elder players lead them down the right path. And, that will pay off immensely in the future.