The Miami Hurricanes capped off the official opening of the 2014 season with the annual spring game, and a few players stood out as the top performers.
Though quarterback play was thoroughly unimpressive, a couple of offensive players picked up the slack for the 'Canes.
Defensively, a team leader and an emerging sophomore shined, helping their unit knock off the offense and win the non-traditional scrimmage 61-60.
Miami returns 13 starters, but each top performer did not start a majority of games at their position last season, which is an encouraging sign for the upcoming campaign.
Gus Edwards, Running Back
Sophomore Gus Edwards, a seemingly forgotten running back, thrust himself into the picture as a top backup for the 2014 season.
Duke Johnson and Joe Yearby have been sidelined because of injury, so Edwards was tasked with carrying a starter's load of reps. Long story short, he rose to the occasion.
After seeing his performance in the spring game, it's clear Miami will have an even deeper backfield next year.
Edwards unleashed an upgraded, physical running style, bullying the first defender in his path throughout the day. Save for a fantastic de-cleating hit by linebacker Denzel Perryman, Edwards consistently bested potential tacklers.
He was easily one of the top performers, finishing the scrimmage with 70 yards on 19 carries. The 3.7 yards per carry average may not be overwhelming, but Edwards improved at the point of contact, accelerating through defenders for a few yards after contact.
Consequently, it would not be surprising for head coach Al Golden to list Edwards and Yearby as co-No. 2 running backs in 2014.
Malcolm Lewis, Wide Receiver
His first collegiate season was cut short due to a horrific ankle break, but Malcolm Lewis worked hard to get back on the field last year.
However, even after a triumphant return during the 2013 spring game, Lewis was hampered by ankle and groin injuries in 2013 and rarely saw significant action.
The 'Canes have been eagerly awaiting a healthy Lewis, and he looked great on Saturday.
During the 11-on-11 session, the redshirt sophomore made three receptions for 36 yards and had a great connection with Kevin Olsen. Plus, in the previous drills, Lewis was running great routes over the middle of the field to get open.
Lewis again showed the talent of a starting slot receiver, and he will be an important target alongside Stacy Coley, Rashawn Scott, Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett.
Dallas Crawford, Safety
Dallas Crawford was named the team's most improved defensive player, and his performance in the spring game solidified the award.
The junior defensive back started well, catching a gifted interception during the 9-on-9 session when Olsen sailed a pass over his intended target.
Soon after, Crawford smacked Perryman while trying to make a tackle, but the South Fort Myers product shook off the collision and ended the 11-on-11 with five stops.
Plus, Crawford did a superb job holding for an extra point and two field-goal attempts despite kicker Matt Goudis pushing a 46-yarder and hooking a 50-yard attempt.
It is highly unlikely that Deon Bush will lose the starting job to the former running back, but there is little doubt Crawford will be an important part of the Miami secondary in 2014.
Jamal Carter, Safety
Returning starter Rayshawn Jenkins being out certainly helped, but Jamal Carter earned the start at one safety position.
Earlier in the spring, Carter donned a black jersey as a leader of the defense. On Saturday, he showed that he was more than capable of stepping up and making plays.
The sophomore garnered the most attention after he smacked Walter Tucker—who had just trucked Antonio Crawford—and later halted Edwards on a near-explosive run.
Ultimately, Carter tied fellow safety Dallas Crawford with a team-high five tackles. Golden, as seen on CanesAllAccess, said Carter was one player who stood out during the scrimmage.
And after a injury- and mistake-riddled 2013 season for the safeties, Carter's emergence is yet another positive addition to the Miami secondary.
Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!