After a long break, likely made even more insufferable by a second consecutive self-imposed bowl ban that encompassed the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game as well, the Miami Hurricanes are back on the football field.
Spring practice begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Greentree Field on the University of Miami campus, with the Canes (7-5 last season) preparing for what could be their best season in years. Miami returns 10 of 11 players on what was an already talented offense but will have a new offensive coordinator (James Coley), new running backs coach (Hurlie Brown) and new tight ends coach (Larry Scott).
The Canes return 10 players on defense, which, statistically, was one of the weakest in the nation last year.
UM coach Al Golden released his spring depth chart Friday for the 15 practices that include three open scrimmages: 10 a.m. March 23 at Traz Powell Stadium; 7 p.m. April 5 at Naples High School; and 3 p.m. April 13, the Spring Game, at Sun Life Stadium. The other practices are closed to the public.
The spring depth chart is mostly tied to how players came through the offseason strength and conditioning program, known as UTough. Two seasons ago, for instance, third-stringer Spencer Whipple was listed as the starting quarterback.
This year, Stephen Morris is firmly entrenched as the senior starter, with what could be a stellar year ahead of him. He completed 245 of 421 passes for 3,345 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2012, with only seven interceptions.
Eight players are listed as out for spring practice, all of them recuperating from injuries or surgeries, except for linebacker Eddie Johnson (suspended indefinitely).
The eight: linebackers Thurston Armbrister (undisclosed), Gabe Terry (foot or leg) and Johnson; receivers Robert Lockhart (knee) and Malcolm Lewis (ankle); center Shane McDermott (shoulder surgery); running back Eduardo Clements (neck surgery); and defensive end David Perry (undisclosed).
Besides Morris, the other first-team players on offense, according to the depth chart: receivers Allen Hurns, a senior, and junior Phillip Dorsett; left tackle Malcolm Bunche, a junior; left guard Jonathan Feliciano, a junior; center Jared Wheeler, a senior; right guard Brandon Linder, a senior; and right tackle Seantrel Henderson, a senior.
Senior Maurice Hagens is the only player listed at fullback, with sophomore Duke Johnson at tailback.
The first-team players on defense: ends Anthony Chickillo, a junior; and senior Shayon Green; tackles Curtis Porter, a senior; and Olsen Pierre, a junior; strong-side linebacker Alex Figueroa, a freshman; middle linebacker Raphael Kirby, a sophomore; and weakside linebacker Denzel Perryman, a junior.
Junior Ladarius Gunter and sophomore Tracy Howard are the first-team cornerbacks, with Rayshawn Jenkins and A.J. Highsmith at safety.
On special teams, sophomore kicker Matt Goudis has a monumental task ahead of him, as he replaces veterans Dalton Botts and Jake Wieclaw and is listed as the first-team punter, field-goal kicker and kickoff specialist.