University of Miami

Sports Illustrated named its top 100 college football players. These Canes made the cut

Miami Hurricanes safety Jaquan Johnson receives the turnover chain as the University of Miami hosted Virginia Tech at Hard Rock Stadium on Nov. 4, 2017.
Miami Hurricanes safety Jaquan Johnson receives the turnover chain as the University of Miami hosted Virginia Tech at Hard Rock Stadium on Nov. 4, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The college football season doesn't begin until the end of August, but that never stops media outlets from putting out a wide assortment of rankings and lists to keep readers entertained during the summer.

On Thursday, Sports Illustrated finished unveiling its top 100 college football players for the 2018 season.

And Miami Hurricanes fans, three UM players made the cut — with two landing inside the top 15.

Unsurprisingly, all three are part of Manny Diaz's defense that finished tied for third nationally with 32 turnovers and ranked fifth in the country with 111 tackles for loss.

Safety Jaquan Johnson, a second-team All-American last season, headlines the trio of Hurricanes at No. 8. He paced Miami with 96 tackles last season and tied for the team lead with four interceptions. The 5-10, 180-pound safety also forced three fumbles and recovered a pair of fumbles.

"An instinctual playmaker who lurks as a constant takeaway threat for opposing quarterbacks and ballcarriers, Johnson will head the back end of what should be another smothering Hurricanes defense despite major turnover on the line, including the losses of draft picks Chad Thomas, Kendrick Norton and R.J. Mcintosh," SI wrote in its analysis of Johnson. "Whether or not Johnson gets to wear the turnover chain as many times as he did last season, Miami will need his production and leadership as it tries to take the final steps it couldn’t last fall."

Mark Richt zooms in on the UM quarterbacks competition after the final spring scrimmage on Saturday, April 21, 2018.

Junior Shaq Quarterman, the Hurricanes' steady starting middle linebacker, checks in at No. 14 on the list. Quarterman has started all 26 games of his UM career, recording 167 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, six sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries.

"Quarterman’s emergence into a top-flight linebacker coincided with Miami’s rapid turnaround under third-year head coach Mark Richt," SI wrote. ".... With fellow juniors Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud lining up alongside Quarterman in a talented linebacking corps, he’ll serve as a leader and big-time playmaker for a squad with designs on maintaining its place among the Power 5’s legitimate playoff contenders."

Rounding out the Miami players is defensive end Joe Jackson at No. 67. The 6-5, 258-pound junior started 12 of 13 games last season, recording 59 tackles, 11 1/2 tackles for loss and 6 1/2 sacks in the process.

"A relentless worker with great instincts off the edge, he finished with more sacks (6 1/2) than any other returning Cane," SI wrote. "Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has to know some sort of regression is coming for his group of turnover artists, but Jackson should be a reassuring constant as a backfield disruptor."

Elsewhere around the state:

Florida State and Florida Atlantic each had two players make the list. Representing the Seminoles: cornerback Levonta Taylor (No. 29) and running back Cam Akers (No. 36). Representing the Owls: running back Devin Singletary (No. 35) and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (No. 79).

UCF Knights quarterback McKenzie Milton was ranked No. 13.

The Florida Gators did not have a player on the list.

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