Barry Jackson

Four freshmen defenders look to make early impact at UM

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, instructs defensive linemen during practice. On Thurs., Aug. 11, 2016 Hurricane football team practiced as the team prepares for the upcoming season at the University of Miami Greentree Field in Coral Gables, Florida.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, instructs defensive linemen during practice. On Thurs., Aug. 11, 2016 Hurricane football team practiced as the team prepares for the upcoming season at the University of Miami Greentree Field in Coral Gables, Florida. cjuste@miamiherald.com

UM welcomed 10 early enrollees to campus in January, and coaches will get a close look at them when spring practice begins on Tuesday.

We examined the offensive early enrollees in this post. A quick look at the four defensive enrollees, all of whom would love to have the impact that early enrollees Shaquille Quarterman, Zach McCloud and Mike Pinckney did last year. (Jack Allison and Pat Bethel were the other two 2016 January enrollees.):

• Safety Amari Carter: UM coaches rave about his tackling ability, and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said the four best tacklers will play in the secondary. Carter will compete with Romeo Finley and Robert Knowles for the starting job opposite Jaquan Johnson. Jeff James also will get plenty of reps.

“I love tackling; I love the contact,” Carter said.

“I'm not an angry person so I'm not really sure [where the aggression comes from]. I flip the switch. People meeting me say, ‘I wouldn't think you would be that type of person on the field.’”

Safeties coach Ephraim Banda said Carter’s “maturity level for his age is remarkable. We need quote-unquote age, even if it’s not by the number, it’s by the maturity level. He provides that. He’s a businesslike young man.”

Carter said: “I just want to be one step ahead and get on the field and play.”

Keep in mind that Diaz said that every cornerback except Malek Young will get time at safety during spring ball.

• Defensive end Jonathan Garvin: Diaz said he’s the sleeper in this class after “terrorizing Palm Beach County” with a reported 25 sacks last season. (Others have reported the number closer to 17.)

Manny Diaz praises true freshman cornerback Malek Young, who had his second career start and first interception in Nov. 19, 2016 victory at NC State.

Though UM is deep at defensive end (with Chad Thomas, Joe Jackson, Demetrius Jackson, Trent Harris, Scott Patchan and Pat Bethel), UM defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said he likes to use a bunch of ends to keep players fresh.

Garvin “fits the mold of what we’re looking for,” Kuligowski said.

Garvin, who said his hands and ability to turn his “hips on my speed rush” are his best assets, said: “I always wanted to come here. [When I run through the smoke at the opener], it’s probably going to be one of the best moments of my life.”

• Linebackers Bradley Jennings and Waynmon Steed:

Steed, off knee surgery last year, presumably will be brought along slowly.

“He makes quick decisions,” Diaz said. “Doesn’t need a GPS to find the hole. He’s a guy that has great awareness, can see what’s getting ready to happen in a play, shoot a gap, make a play in the backfield, which is a big part of what we’re all about. He just has a great natural feel on how to play the linebacker position.”

Jennings could play early, especially on special teams. “Very tough, big hitter, very physical vs. the run,” Diaz said. “The first thing that stands out with Bradley is his toughness. He’s a bruising presence in the middle of the defense. He’s stout versus the run. He has good vision and instincts.”

Please click here for my look at the offensive early arrivals.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments