Miami football: Projected defensive depth chart after Signing Day

Miami football-National Signing Day-depth chart

Defense was Miami football’s strength during the 2017 season. Despite the many losses the Hurricanes suffered to their roster this offseason, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz should still trot out one of the best defenses in the ACC.

There are some obvious holes, although looking at a two- or three-deep depth chart serves as a reminder that Miami has a decent amount of depth. A few of the Hurricanes’ pickups on National Signing Day will be critical to the short-term outlook.

A few potential starters won’t be on campus for the spring, but let’s take an initial look at how the depth chart could shake out in 2018, including how the freshmen will fit in.

(* — Player will not be on the roster during the spring)

Defensive end

  • 1. Demetrius Jackson, redshirt senior
  • 2. Scott Patchan, redshirt junior
  • 3. Tyreic Martin, redshirt sophomore

Jackson returns from knee surgery, and with Miami thin at defensive end he should have no trouble regaining his starting job. Patchan moved back to defensive end from tight end after serving as a reserve following tight end Christopher Herndon’s season-ending injury. He’ll have to contribute in some capacity.

The same could be true for Martin, who is one of only six defensive ends on the roster. Unless the Hurricanes find a transfer, Martin will have to begin contributing this fall.

Defensive tackle

  • 1. Gerald Willis, redshirt senior
  • 2. Nesta Silvera, freshman*
  • 3. Jonathan Ford, sophomore

Willis and Silvera could end up being Miami’s two most talented defensive tackles. They’re also the Hurricanes’ two most unproven. Willis took a mysterious “leave of absence” before the 2017 season, but the former Florida transfer could be a star if he puts everything together.

The same holds true for Silvera, who finished the 2018 recruiting cycle as the nation’s No. 2 defensive tackle in the 247Sports composite rankings. Right now, there’s nothing differentiating the two defensive tackle spots for the Hurricanes, so we’ll list Silvera as a reserve in the spot he has the best chance at starting. Ford will also be an important piece after contributing a bit as a freshman in 2017.

Defensive tackle

  • 1. Tito Odenigbo, redshirt senior*
  • 2. Pat Bethel, junior
  • 3. Jonathan Ford, sophomore

Odenigbo may not be the flashiest player, but he has experience as a starter. The incoming graduate transfer from Illinois started four games for the Fighting Illini in 2017. With Miami thin at defensive tackle, he should be able to continue starting.

Bethel, who played plenty in 2017 as a reserve, could push him, though, as could Silvera. There’s a clear five-man rotation in place for the Hurricanes — Ford rounds out the group — although the actual depth chart could shake out a few different ways.

Defensive end

  • 1. Joe Jackson, junior
  • 2. Jonathan Garvin, sophomore
  • 3. Tyreic Martin, redshirt sophomore

Jackson had a breakthrough sophomore season and could be due for a big year. This is the strongest spot on Miami’s defensive line because of him and Garvin, who had a surprisingly excellent freshman season.

It’s not crazy to envision Jackson and Garvin ultimately being the two starters. Martin has the inside track to round out the five-man rotation at defensive end.

Strongside linebacker

  • 1. Zach McCloud, junior
  • 2. Charles Perry, senior
  • 3. Terry McCray, redshirt senior

The Hurricanes return all three starters at linebacker, including McCloud. Perry, who suffered a season-ending injury during the 2017 Notre Dame game, will back up McCloud and allow DeAndre Wilder to move to the other side of the field.

McCray, meanwhile, hasn’t played much in his career and may not need to in 2018. He is, however, the fifth outside linebacker on the roster.

Middle linebacker

  • 1. Shaquille Quarterman, junior
  • 2a. Mike Smith, redshirt senior
  • 2b. Bradley Jennings, sophomore

Quarterman became the unquestioned leader of Miami’s defense in 2017. He could head to the NFL Draft after this season.

Smith, who also contributed as a fullback in 2017, could move back to linebacker full time if the Hurricanes feel ready to count on incoming 3-star fullback Realus George. Jennings’ ability will allow Miami to be flexible with Smith, though.

Weakside linebacker

  • 1. Michael Pinckney, junior
  • 2. DeAndre Wilder, sophomore
  • 3. Terry McCray, redshirt senior

Pinckney flirted with a star turn in 2017 and will be back as one of the defensive leaders this fall. Wilder, who barely checks in above 200 pounds, can move to a weakside position, where his size is less of an issue. Perry’s return makes this possible and former linebacker Darrion Owens’ decision to transfer makes it necessary.

McCray again is the depth piece at outside linebacker. His experience means the Hurricanes should be able to count on him if necessary.

Left cornerback

  • 1. Michael Jackson, senior
  • 2. Trajan Bandy, sophomore
  • 3. D.J. Ivey, freshman

Miami’s cornerback situation could go a bunch of different ways in 2018. One thing is set in stone, though: Jackson will start at one spot. The rising senior could have been a mid-round pick in the NFL Draft, so the Hurricanes are glad to have him back.

Bandy could get a crack at starting opposite Jackson. Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph said the sophomore wants to stay in the slot, though. There’s a reason his nickname is the “Muddy Badger.” Ivey, a 4-star cornerback and early enrollee may be the most polished of the incoming cornerbacks, although his relative lack of athleticism could keep him from pushing for a starting job on the outside. He’s a slot piece, playing a similar role to Bandy.

Free safety

  • 1. Sheldrick Redwine, senior
  • 2a. Romeo Finley, junior
  • 2b. Amari Carter, sophomore

Miami is deep at safety. Redwine should continue starting at free safety after a solid junior year.

The reserve situation is what’s interesting. Finley is steady, too, and Carter flashed tons of potential as a freshman. Gurvan Hall, a 4-star safety and early enrollee, will inevitably find a place in the rotation, too.


  • 1. Jaquan Johnson, senior
  • 2a. Robert Knowles, redshirt junior
  • 2b. Gurvan Hall, freshman

Johnson was probably the Hurricanes’ defensive MVP in 2017. Miami is thrilled to have him back.

Knowles was Johnson’s backup and will be the favorite to have the same role as a redshirt junior. Let’s temporarily slide Hall in here, too. However, the freshman is probably a better fit in a free safety role. The Hurricanes insist they want to try the Under Armour All-American at cornerback, so he could wind up anywhere. It’s clear Hall will play somewhere. He could be a weapon as a kick returner, too.

Right cornerback

Dean will almost certainly be the starter during the spring. He struggled against Wisconsin during the Orange Bowl, though, which means the freshmen will get a crack at starting. Blades, an incoming 4-star cornerback, is the highest ranked of the bunch and has the highest upside. He thrives against fierce competition, too. The defensive back was excellent at both The Opening finals and the Under Armour All-America Game, which bodes well for his future success.

Frierson, though, is already enrolled and the 4-star cornerback will have a chance to make his move during the spring. He’s as physically gifted as it gets, which gives him comparable upside to Blades.


  • 1. Zach Feagles, sophomore
  • 2. Jack Spicer, redshirt junior
  • 3. Bubba Baxa, freshman*

Feagles was one of the worst punters in the country in 2017. He showed why Miami trusted him all season during the Orange Bowl, though, as the legacy specialist boomed 50-yarder after 50-yarder. It’s not like Spicer is a better option, either — he was worse than Feagles in his limited action. He’ll probably still be the Hurricanes’ holder, though.

Baxa, an incoming 3-star kicker, is a wild card in this mix. He probably won’t be a punter, but he was excellent in the role as a high school senior.

The post Miami football: Projected defensive depth chart after Signing Day appeared first on Diehards.

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