OXFORD, Ohio - With many of the Miami University football team's players and coaches away from campus for spring break, this week's "Football Friday" is a mailbag of what to look for in the coming weeks, along with a few other interesting facts and tidbits about next year's squad.
First, former RedHawk quarterback Zac Dysert is scheduled to take part in Miami's Pro Day on Thursday, March 21 in Oxford. More details will be posted on MURedHawks.com later next week.
Dysert, who sustained a hamstring injury Feb. 11 while training at the IMG Academyin Bradenton, Fla., was not able to participate physically in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, April 25-27. He did, however, meet and interview with NFL teams.
At Miami's Pro Day, the Ada native will be coached by former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke, who has been mentoring him in Florida since January.
Other RedHawks expected to participate in Pro Day activities include Pat Hinkel (LB), Jason Semmes (DL), Luke Kelly (DL), Andy Cruse (WR) and Evan Harris (LB).
Dysert is projected to be selected anywhere from the second to sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. CBSSports.com and Yahoo! Sports have projected Dysert as a fourth- or fifth-round selection.
Dysert has said that the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles have shown the most interest, but ESPN.com NFL blog writer Jamison Hensley says he could end up in Pittsburgh, backing up another former Miami great Ben Roethlisberger.
"As long as Ben Roethlisberger stays healthy, there's no question that he's the starting quarterback," wrote Hensley. "Roethlisberger, though, hasn't played a full season since 2008, which puts more emphasis on the backup position. This could bethe year when the Steelers look for a younger quarterback in the mid-to-late rounds to develop."
Continued Hensley, "Zac Dysert, a Miami (Ohio) quarterback like Roethlisberger, is expected to go in the fourth or fifth round. The Steelers went with more experienced back-ups last season in Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich, both of whom are freeagents and whose returns are uncertain. Batch is 38 years old, and Leftwich is not durable. Even if there was a better free-agent backup available, Pittsburgh doesn't have the cap room to sign him."
An all Miami quarterback depth chart in the Steel City sure would be intriguing.
As for this year's RedHawk team, Miami returns 24 lettermen on both offense and on defense, along with four special-teams veterans. The RedHawks have lost 25 lettermen.
MU has several returning skill players on offense. Running backs Jamire Westbrook and Spencer Treadwell both return. At wide receiver, Andy Cruse is gone, but Nick Harwell returns for his senior season and Dawan Scott looks to build upon his outstanding sophomore campaign. Tight ends Steven Marck, Dustin White and Orlando David also look to contribute more.
On the offensive line, the RedHawks return players who were either starters or received extended playing time last season. Josh Harvey, Trevan Brown, Zach Lewis, Marcus Matthews and John Anevski are the team's key returners. And don't forget about Brandyn Cook, who was injured and missed the rest of the season after starting in Miami's season opener against Ohio State.
On defense, cornerback Dayonne Nunley, safeties Brison Burris and Marshall Taylor, linebacker Chris Wade and defensive linemen Austin Brown, Wes Williams and Mwanza Wamulumba all return. Six of those players were top 10 tacklers on last year's team.
Returning special teams players include kickoff specialist Mason Krysinski, placekicker Kaleb Patterson and punter Zac Murphy.
What Returns to Miami's Football Team (by Percentage)
Rushing Yards ... 66.9%
Passing Yards ... 3.0%
Receiving Yards ... 71.4%
Punt Return Yards ... 42.1%
Kickoff Return Yards ... 100.0%
Interceptions ... 58.3%
Scoring ... 75.0%
Total Offensive Yards ... 17.2%
Field Goals ... 100.0%
Punting Yards ... 95.8%
Tackles ... 67.1%
Tackles for Loss ... 51.8%
QB Sacks ... 43.3%