For fans counting down the days until Hurricanes football kicks off in Tallahassee on Labor Day (just 165 to go!), BankUnited CanesFest is coming to the rescue on Saturday morning.
Miami's spring game gets a shot of family fun with the addition of an autograph session, but the main attraction will be on the field at Lockhart Stadium as brand new coordinators John Lovett and Mark Whipple put their product in play.
Traditionally, teams don't show much of their hand at spring games. But with a new offense and a heap of young 'uns, there's plenty to watch for:
Quarterback - The role was likely going to sophomore-to-be Jacory Harris anyway, but the rather bratty departure of Robert Marve leaves the 'Canes with no one else. (Can we get this kid a Pope-mobile?) The whip-smart Harris, who ran a spread for Northwestern High, is doing very well in Whipple's pro-style offense. The battle is at backup between freshmen Taylor Cook and Cannon Smith. Look for Cook to get the nod for No. 2 - but neither is ready now should Harris go down.
Offensive line - potentially a big problem for the 'Canes. The first team is set and doing a serviceable job, but beyond that there are huge question marks and a bunch of young men roaming around. New arrivals Brandon Washington, Ben Jones, and Jermaine Johnson have each moved positions since spring practice started. The trio has great upside, but will need time and teaching to develop - in postitions yet determined.
Wide Receiver - Two hometown stars from Northwestern will be getting their first chance to impress fans after red-shirting due to injuries. Tommy Streeter is tall yet speedy and could be the deep threat Miami's been looking for, and Kendall Thompkins has a reputation for running beautifully sneaky routes. Both could be difference-makers.
Running Back - Mike James has been the talk of the town since skipping the second half of his senior year to enroll early at Miami for spring ball. Players and coaches are raving at every opportunity about his drive, work ethic, and willingness to plow straight into anyone or anything he finds in his path. With only one bout with Miami's strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey under his belt, James may not break out in the ACC for a year or two - but then, if the stories from practice are to be believed, he also just might. Look for James to reel off a few long runs on Saturday, leaving fans to wonder, "Bryce who?"
Secondary - Veteran Randy Phillips received another year of eligibility from the NCAA, but Vaughn Telemaque is the name on everyone's lips. His hips are a bit stiff, but somehow the ball-hawking freshman from Long Beach Poly just makes plays. Expect great things - even head coach Randy Shannon is comparing him to 'Canes and NFL great Ed Reed. If he's just half that good it'll be a huge relieft to Miami, who recorded a pathetic 4 interceptions on the whole of last season.
Hey, notice that all these names are freshman or sophomores?
Whitney Houston was right: the children are the future.
Janie Campbell bleeds orange and green and blood. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.