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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I pulled the numbers of the freshmen from the roster just released on the official site but did not mention the big, obvious pieces of news: FB/LB Quintin Patilla, DE/DT James McKinney, and OL Justin Schifano aren't on it. This, in all probability, means that they are no longer on the team. If the roster still includes Antonio Bass but not those three... they are very probably done. Don't know if it's academics or playing time or what, but an attempted assessment follows.

Patilla. A blow to fullback depth, as Patilla got moved over to the offensive side of the ball in the spring, but he was probably third behind Helmuth and Moundros. It's always a bad sign for someone's career when they get moved to fullback, so he was unlikely to contribute anywhere and may have decided to pack it in or transfer.

McKinney. McKinney was a fringe top-100 recruit a couple years ago who came in as a defensive end, got injured, moved to defensive tackle, got injured again, and was obviously not going to start either of the next two years -- three juniors and a sophomore on this year's defensive line. He could have provided some interior depth but had been passed by John Ferrara and would have had a tough battle with Marques Slocum coming up. Maybe a playing time departure.

Schifano. The most disappointing departure, Schifano was offered as a junior at camp and picked up a Miami offer soon thereafter; he was a solid four-star offensive guard recruit on signing day. Boren passed him the moment he hit campus, but he should have been a strong candidate to replace Adam Kraus next year. He was probably third when it came to interior line depth behind Ciulla and Moosman, so it'll take a spate of injuries to make his departure relevant, but with iffy OL classes back to back the last two years his departure exacerbates what will probably be a scary year or two on the OL in the near future.

Overall: our four-strong linebacker class from 2006 is now down to two. Mixon transferred, Patilla is likely gone, and Graham is a defensive end. Mouton (who moved down from safety) and Ezeh are both drawing very positive reviews and are odds-on favorites to start next year, but past that we have only the two freshmen, one of whom was a two-star and the other a three-star regarded as a combine freak who needs a lot of work. Depth is also going to be an issue at linebacker going forward; we need at least three in this class.

Update: Commenters suggest that Patilla and McKinney may not be as gone as the above implies; Schifano is apparently giving up football entirely.