Athlon Sports ranks Miami football No. 5 in way-too-early 2018 Top 25

  • Mitchell Forde
  • Diehards
3:14 p.m Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018 Sports

The name of the poll may say “way-too-early,” but with all but two college football programs finished for the season, it’s time for the other 128 teams to turn their focus toward next year.

For Miami fans, the future is expected to look bright.

Athlon Sports ranked Miami No. 5 in its “way-too-early college football Top 25” list for the 2018 season. The Hurricanes are ranked behind Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia.

The article calls Miami “a program on the rise” and says the Hurricanes were “perhaps ahead of schedule” in contending for a College Football Playoff berth this season. It points out that Miami’s 2018 schedule is tough enough to earn the Hurricanes respect in the eyes of the selection committee, as the team will host LSU in its season-opener and travel to Virginia Tech and Florida State, but fairly manageable as a whole.

The biggest question Miami will have to answer during the offseason is the quarterback position, but a wealth of options should ensure that the Hurricanes’ starter for the season-opener is well-prepared. Malik Rosier set a single-season school record with 36 total touchdowns this season, but he will be challenged for the starting job by former 4-star recruit N’Kosi Perry, who redshirted this season, and incoming 4-star prospect Jarren Williams.

Elsewhere on offense, the article points out that 5-star running back signee Lorenzo Lingard should be able to fill the shoes of Mark Walton, who missed the majority of this season with an ankle injury before declaring for the NFL Draft. The Hurricanes will lose two receiving threats in Braxton Berrios and tight end Chris Herndon, but should have Ahmon Richards back to full strength and better contributions from youngsters Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley.

On the other side of the ball, the article says “Manny Diaz has built one of the ACC’s top defenses over the last two years, and this unit should be even better than its 2017 version.” The Hurricanes will have all three starting linebackers back next year and should have a strong secondary as well, anchored by star safety Jaquan Johnson, who recently decided not to enter the NFL Draft.

While it certainly is early, forecasting Miami to contend for an ACC title and a spot in the College Football Playoff next year should have Hurricane fans excited, despite the team’s disappointing end to this season.

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