Making an impact as a true freshman is rare — especially in the gladiatorial sport of football. This is a grown man’s game and 18-year-olds aren’t expected to slide right in and start immediately like with college basketball.
Yet several Miami Hurricanes have made some chunky impacts this season. The electric Stacy Coley paves the way after a rough start, with the other four showing glimpses of star potential.
1. Stacy Coley, Receiver
Role: Starting WR/PR/KR
The freshman out of Northeast High started his college career with two dropped touchdowns against Florida Atlantic back in August. That feels like years ago, doesn’t it?
Since then, Coley has engendered flashbacks of the days of Hester, Johnson, and Moss both as a receiver and a returner. When Stacy gets the football in space, it’s like trying to take down a cheetah. Plastering his playmaking ability all over Miami highlight reels, Coley is a special talent that doesn’t come around often.
Enjoy him while you have him.
2. Gus Edwards, Running Back
Augustus’ role has inflated since Duke Johnson went down for the season. Averaging 5.6 yards per carry, the 6-2, 225-pound back has a unique style, always falling forward for extra yardage upon contact.
With a potential influx of talent at running back in this year’s recruiting class and the return of Johnson, next season is going to be a war for snaps in the backfield. But it has been a promising campaign for the big fella from Staten Island.
3. Artie Burns, Cornerback
His highlight of the year came against North Carolina when he blocked a kick that was returned for a touchdown. Without that play the Canes probably would have another check in the loss column.
On defense, the young corner has displayed the physical prowess that made him one of the most sought-after recruits in South Florida. Though he’s had his ups and downs as a freshman, the future looks promising for Miami’s defensive backfield because of talented corners like Burns and Tracy Howard.
4. Alex Figueroa, Linebacker
Role: Reserve (Started twice)
Figs hasn’t been available for a few weeks, dealing with shoulder issues. Early on this season, the hard-hitting freshman showed unusually sharp instincts for a player in his first year.
With the chance of Denzel Perryman bolting to the NFL, Figueroa could be leaned on heavily next year for a unit that has continued to underperform as a whole. He certainly looks the part.
5. Al Quadin Muhammed, Defensive End
Muhammed has been utilized as a pass-rushing specialist in his first year. He shows excellent burst off the line. With further development, he should be an impact player for years to come on a defense craving playmakers.