In an effort to put the Nevin Shapiro scandal behind them, the Miami Hurricanes head into 2012 with a number of new faces. After the Hurricanes finished 6-6 last season but elected to forego their bowl eligibility, Miami will once again be bowl eligible in 2012 and hopes to return to ACC prominence.
The Hurricanes lost a number of players to the NFL, including six underclassmen—more than any other team—as players sought to escape the scandal that wracked the program in 2011. Luckily for second-year head coach Al Golden, though, there are reinforcements on the way. Miami’s 33-man recruiting class was ranked among the top 10 classes in the nation by several different media outlets. The class is headlined by a pair of players ranked as five-star recruits by Rivals.com, cornerback Tracy Howard and running back Randy “Duke” Johnson, both of whom will see playing time as true freshmen.
The Hurricanes also return key pieces from last year’s defense and could have the most dangerous secondary in the ACC. Free safety Ray Ray Armstrong, who stands a menacing 6-foot-4, leads the way as the most notable player to return from a suspension last season. Strong safety Vaughn Telemaque and cornerback Brandon McGee were key contributors to Miami’s pass defense last season as well, and played a large role in the Hurricanes ranking third in the ACC by allowing just 198 passing yards per game.
Although Miami lost 1,000-yard rusher Lamar Miller, the Hurricanes will rely on offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson to continue clearing holes for their ground game. At 6-foot-8 and 350 pounds, Henderson is just the man for that job, but his health and readiness are in question after offseason injuries and personal issues. In the air, the Hurricanes could be handicapped in the wake of Jacory Harris’ departure, since 2012 starter Stephen Morris tossed more interceptions than touchdowns while Harris was suspended last season.
Duke will play Miami in its season finale Nov. 24 in a game with potential bowl implications.