Miami hasn't had a first-round pick since 2008, which qualifies as a full-fledged drought for a program that produced at least one first-rounder every year from 1995-2008 (there were a staggering 33 first-rounders produced by the Hurricanes in that 14-draft span). In addition, UM had only two players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, the fewest for the Hurricanes in a draft since 1998.
While there is no sure-fire first-rounder on the roster this season, there are two that could play their way into being first-day selections and another dozen or so worth watching. The recent downturn in draftees mirrors Miami's results on the field. The Hurricanes haven't had a season with double-digit wins since 2003 and have won more than seven games only once since 2005. In addition, the Hurricanes are only 48-40 over the past seven seasons.
Last season's defense was one of the worst in school history, and the 'Canes have to get tougher against the run. For a school that used to pump out NFL-ready defensive linemen, last year's D-line was an embarrassment. Offensively, there are few concerns. This team should win the ACC Coastal title and looks to be one of the top three teams in the league.
Top senior prospects
OT Seantrel Henderson: He was a consensus top-five player nationally out of high school in the Minneapolis area in 2010, but he hasn't lived up to the hype. Henderson (6-foot-8, 345 pounds) has started only 18 games in his three seasons (nine of those came in his freshman season) and he has lacked consistency. He is expected to start at right tackle again, but there has been talk he could move to the left side. There is no doubt Henderson has all the physical tools -- he is mammoth and has a huge wingspan and excellent coordination. He has suffered from a lack of focus and has been criticized for his work ethic. He missed four games as a sophomore in 2011 while recovering from minor knee surgery.
WR Allen Hurns: Hurns (6-3, 195), who hasn't redshirted, is heading into his third season as a starter. He isn't a blazer, but he is a steady complementary receiver. He has four touchdown catches in each of the past two seasons but is not a deep threat. He has had nagging injuries each of the past two seasons but missed only one game.
OG Brandon Linder: He has started all 24 games the past two seasons and is a steadying force along the line. Linder (6-6, 317) played center in high school at powerhouse Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, was a tackle as a true freshman at UM in 2010 and has played guard the past two seasons. He's not overly gifted physically, but he is a cerebral player with good technique.
Gil Brandt's top five senior QBsStephen Morris stands tall among college football's senior class of quarterbacks.
QB Stephen Morris: Morris was the unquestioned starter for the first time last season and responded by throwing for 3,345 yards -- the fifth-best single-season mark in school history -- and 21 touchdowns. Morris (6-2, 214) lacks ideal height, but he has a strong arm and good mobility -- he knows how to avoid a rush while staying in the pocket. He needs to improve his accuracy (58.2 percent last season, 57.7 percent for his career), and he sometimes takes unnecessary chances (18 career picks and 28 career TDs).
P Pat O'Donnell: He was second in the Big East in punting last season at Cincinnati (41.8 yards per attempt) and will play his senior season at Miami. He is from Lake Worth, Fla., about 70 miles north of UM's campus. His career average is 42.6 yards. O'Donnell also handled kickoffs for the Bearcats last season, and 36 of his 75 attempts were touchbacks.
DT Curtis Porter: Because of various injuries, Porter (6-1, 312) has played in only 15 games, with three starts, in his career. Eight of those appearances came in 2009, when he was a true freshman. When healthy, he is tough against the run and also has shown a quick burst to get into opposing backfields. He has all-league potential if he can remain on the field.
OG Malcolm Bunche: Bunche (6-7, 327), a Delaware native, started all 12 games at left tackle last season, but could move to guard this season as a junior. He is a physical run blocker who can struggle when trying to handle speed rushers -- guard looks like his best position on the next level, assuming he can play with consistency and intensity.
SS Deon Bush: He played extensively as a true freshman last season and should start this season. Bush (6-1, 201) is a big hitter -- he forced three fumbles -- with good speed. His coverage skills are a question but he has a big upside. Bush has gained 25 pounds since signing with UM.
DE Anthony Chickillo: He has started in each of his first two seasons and heads into his junior season with nine career sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Chickillo (6-4, 269) plays with a high intensity level and has proved to be much better as a run defender than as a pass rusher. Look for Chickillo, who has a great work ethic, to improve his pass-rush skills this season.
WR Phillip Dorsett: He was Miami's leading receiver last season, making 58 catches for 842 yards and four touchdowns. Dorsett (5-9, 187), a junior, is both speedy and shifty -- he can get deep and also can run away from defenders. He was well-schooled in the fundamentals at powerhouse Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas and also is a solid return man. Dorsett has lacked consistency but has 70-catch potential.
LB Alex Figueroa: He enrolled in January as a true freshman and had a great spring practice -- he entered fall camp atop the depth chart at an outside linebacker spot. Figueroa (6-3, 231), from Stafford, Va., impressed coaches with his work ethic, football IQ, toughness and speed. Both of his parents are Marines.
OT Ereck Flowers: Because of injuries, he started the first four games at right tackle last season as a true freshman. He served as a reserve for the final eight contests. Flowers (6-6, 315) had a good spring and seems the likely starter at left tackle this season, but he could move to the right side or settle into a reserve role again. Flowers is physical and athletic, and coaches last season praised him for his intensity and work ethic.
RB Duke Johnson: Despite sharing time with the since-departed Mike James, Johnson led the Hurricanes in rushing last season with 947 yards and six touchdowns as a true freshman. Johnson (5-9, 194), a consensus national top-20 prospect out of Miami's Norland High, had eight fewer carries than Johnson but outgained him by 226 yards. Johnson has excellent speed and possesses a great burst -- he seems equally at home trying to turn the corner as he does running between the tackles. He also showed big-time skills as a kick returner and was a solid receiver. One negative: UM played three teams that played in BCS games, and Johnson managed a total of 68 yards in those contests.
LB Denzel Perryman: Perryman is a tough, physical inside 'backer who lacks height (he's listed -- emphasis on the "listed" -- at 6-0 and 236 pounds) but plays hard. He was bothered by leg and ankle injuries last season and missed three games but was still second on the team with 64 tackles. Perryman has a high football IQ and moves well laterally. He can deliver a blow.
TE Clive Walford: He has lacked consistency in his first two seasons, but came on strong down the stretch last season to finish with 25 receptions for 451 yards and four touchdowns. Walford (6-4, 259), a junior, has good speed and can get deep.
Three must-see games of 2013
Sept. 7 vs. Florida: This will be the first meeting between the teams since 2008 and only the fourth in the regular season since 1987. Florida's cornerback group is one of the best in the nation, so Harris, Hurns and Dorsett will be tested. The same goes for Linder, Henderson and the rest of UM's offensive line, as Florida should have one of the better pass rushes in the SEC. This also will be a big test for Johnson.
Oct. 17 at North Carolina: UNC DE Kareem Martin will be a handful for UM's offensive tackles. Bush will need to be sharp against UNC QB Bryn Renner.
Nov. 2 at Florida State: This rivalry might have lost some luster nationally, but it remains fierce. FSU is the most talented team in the ACC, and its defensive line will test Morris, Johnson and Miami's offensive line. Walford, Dorsett and Hurns will be going against a deep and talented secondary.