College Football Top 25 Preview: Miami Hurricanes

Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Hurricanes

2017 Record: 10-3 (7-1) - Lost to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl.

2018 Coaches Poll Top 25 Rank: No. 8

Season Outlook

First things first, it's confirmed that the turnover chain will be back in 2018.

I'm not sure what else you need to know other than that but the Canes are again a contender in the ACC and my favorite to win the Coastal Division.

The Canes started 2017 by winning its first eight contests before dropping the final three against Pittsburgh, Clemson in the ACC Championship and Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl. With a neutral site date with LSU to start the season, Miami needs to quickly rediscover its winning ways to avoid an 0-1 start.

From a talent perspective, Miami is loaded. Returning 14 starters from last year's team, the strength of the team is the defense. Joe Jackson is a star pass rusher and Gerald Willis III is a breakout candidate for the defensive line. Miami potentially has three NFL-caliber linebackers, with Michael Pinckney the best for my money. A veteran secondary returns, featuring the best safety duo in the ACC (Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine) and cornerback Michael Jackson who has a bright NFL future.

The Canes have some explosive playmakers offensively headlined by superstar receiver Ahmmon Richards and dynamic running back Travis Homer. The question marks stem from an offensive line that must improve in 2018 and quarterback Malik Rosier who struggled down the stretch last season.

The schedule is a favorable one for Miami. If it can survive LSU in Week One, Florida State comes to Miami in Week 6 before the Canes travel to Blacksburg to face the Hokies in mid-November as the biggest challenges. I expect Miami to rack up 10 wins and have a date in Charlotte come early December for a chance at the ACC Title.

Top 5 Draft-Eligible Prospects

1. WR Ahmmon Richards

Richards is a dynamic vertical receiver who battled injuries last season after bursting onto the scene as a freshman. Richards should challenge for the ACC receiving title and be in the first round conversation next spring should he declare.

2. S Jaquan Johnson

As it stands, there isn't many safety prospects I feel good about entering the season but Johnson is one worth getting excited about. Johnson led the Canes in tackles and interceptions last year and offers the versatile skill set of an eventual NFL starter.

3. EDGE Joe Jackson

Jackson has impressive tools that have led to good production so far in his career but he needs to become a more polished pass rusher to capitalize on his physical gifts. It would not surprise me to see him put it all together in 2018 but he has a lot to prove.

4. CB Michael Jackson

Jackson is a long and physical boundary corner that excels in press and zone coverage. Likely a scheme-specific prospect, Jackson is disruptive at the line of scrimmage and offers the size and movement skills to challenge bigger wideouts.

5. OT Tyree St. Louis

Flipping over from right tackle to the left side for his senior season, St. Louis has the makeup of an ascending prospect with a big opportunity to prove himself in 2018. He looks great on the hoof, offering a blend of length, power and mobility.

6. RB Travis Homer

Yea, I was only supposed to detail the best five prospects but I am a big fan of Homer. Homer is a blend of speed, power, elusiveness traits that make him exciting to me and I love his competitive nature as a runner. His skill set is fairly complete and he's capable of making an impact in a variety of ways on every down.

Others to Watch: LB Michael Pinckney, DT Gerald Willis III, LB Shaq Quarterman, LB Zach McCloud, S Sheldrick Redwine, WR Lawrence Cager.

Written By:

Joe Marino

Chief Administrative Officer

CAO & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Draft Dudes podcast. Member of the FWAA.