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2019 Fall Camp Preview: DT

2019 Fall Camp Preview: DT

Lance Roffers
Summer Additions: Jalary Holley (2019 signee), Jared Harrison-Hunte (2019 signee), Jason Blissett (2019 signee), Chigozie Nnoruka (UCLA grad transfer)

Summer Departures: None

Miami went into the 2018 season with a major question at DT to answer: How do they replace the lost production from starters Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh. There was little in the way of proven depth and most pundits pointed to this position as the reason Miami would take a step back defensively.

The answer was to receive an enormous senior season from Gerald Willis, who contributed 59 total tackles, 18 of which were behind the line of scrimmage, 4 sacks, 2 passes defensed, and a fumble recovery. Additionally, Miami received a boost from a graduate transfer in the form of Tito Odenigbo, who played his best football at the end of the season, while contributing 25 total tackles, 5.5 behind the line of scrimmage.

Fast forward to the 2019 season and Miami is once again needing to replace both starters at the position and once again hoping for a boost from a graduate transfer. This time, Chigozie Nnoruka will fill the role of graduate transfer hoping to revive his career after a scheme change at UCLA negated his biggest weapon; quickness off the snap. In Miami's pressure defensive scheme, his quickness should allow him to play his best football and fill a role either as a starter, or as quality depth.

Where things get interesting is who will play the role of Gerald Willis and make that unexpected gigantic leap into stardom at the DT position? Miami fans are hoping for a huge second-year leap from the perpetually agitated Nesta Silvera, but after being forced into action as a true freshman and contributing only 13 total tackles, with 1.5 going for a loss, is he ready to fill that role? Senior-to-be Pat Bethel is a hard-working plug who hopes to take his performance to another level in his last season with Miami after serving as a part-time starter last year. Bethel contributed 22 total tackles, 5 going for loss, with two sacks last year. Numbers that need to increase across the board this year.

Privately, team sources have been very encouraged with third-year player Jonathan Ford's development this offseason. The hope is that Ford can turn tools into performance this season as he seeks to add a pass rush move to his repertoire and improve his pad level. Ford has unusual length for the position and if the strength gains in the weight room carry over to the football field, he could step into a starting role this season. Jordan Miller has remade his body under new S&C coach David Feeley, and will look to improve his stamina this season. Miller has good movement skills for a player of 325 pounds, but he came into the system raw from a technique standpoint and may need another year of development to be a consistent contributor. Tyreic Martin will continue to serve as depth on the interior this season.

Over the summer, UM added three highly-touted freshmen in addition to the aforementioned Nnoruka in the form of Jalar Holley, Jared Harrison-Hunte, and Jason Blissett Jr. Each of the three have the talent to contribute this season, if necessary. Blissett is the highest rated of the year, and he has the type of athletic profile that has led to success at the position in the past. Harrison-Hunte is a basketball player who is still growing as a football player. His explosive first step might allow him to see early playing time. Holley is often times overlooked among the incoming group of DT's, but the Georgia native comes from a strong program, performed against quality competition, and had the strength to throw a shot put 46.5' his senior year. If nothing else, this excellent group of young DT's will make lives difficult for the first-team OL while on scout team.


Bottom Line

Another season, another year of questions on who will step up at the DT position. For me, this is the position that is most essential to a Manny Diaz defense operating at the highest level. It is imperative that the defensive line get pressure in this system, but it is even more important for the defense to get pressure up-the-middle and force the offense to move laterally or try to throw the ball in the face of pressure.

Replacing a player like Gerald Willis will not be easy, and I do not anticipate one single player having the season that he did, but the good news is this is a very talented group of DT's collectively. Two seniors at the position allow for experience and leadership. Nesta Silvera brings an elite-level talent to the group who already has a season under his belt to know what it takes to succeed at this level. Then an impressive group of newcomers joins two players hoping to take another leap in their development in Jonathan Ford and Jordan Miller.

I see a group that is more than the sum of their parts and has a variety of types to play different roles and keep the collective performance high at this position. I do expect to see a slight step back from this group when compared to last season's production but the hope is that steps forward in other areas of the team will allow the team to mask any deficiencies at the DT position with more rest, more obvious passing situations where the defense can replace a DT with an edge player moving inside to rush the passer, and creative use of their speed at LB to get pressure up-the-middle.
 

Comments (21)

Man it's a shame that Gerald got stuck on such a bad team last year... Do you guys remember this dude single-handedly blowing up LSU's o-line in Game 1? On a better team he would have gotten a lot more recognition. Just bad timing.
 
In a short yardage situation, Miller & Jordan on the field together could be stout. Add in Garvin & Rosseau that looks like an NFL front.

Overall I like this group potential.
 
In a short yardage situation, Miller & Jordan on the field together could be stout. Add in Garvin & Rosseau that looks like an NFL front.

Overall I like this group potential.

Miller and Jordan? Do you mean Miller and Ford? Or Nesta ?
 
I don't think there is an All-Conference player outside of maybe Nesta provided he gets enough snaps...but its a unit that should never be tired. Lots of guys that should be seeing snaps.
John Ford is going to take the leap and look like one of the Clemson type plug and play DT's. He is my pick for sleeper All ACC dude.
 
I just hope we don't get manhandled up the middle. Hopefully the DT's hold they own and allow the playmakers around them to do the work.
 
Summer Additions: Jalary Holley (2019 signee), Jared Harrison-Hunte (2019 signee), Jason Blissett (2019 signee), Chigozie Nnoruka (UCLA grad transfer)

Summer Departures: None

Miami went into the 2018 season with a major question at DT to answer: How do they replace the lost production from starters Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh. There was little in the way of proven depth and most pundits pointed to this position as the reason Miami would take a step back defensively.

The answer was to receive an enormous senior season from Gerald Willis, who contributed 59 total tackles, 18 of which were behind the line of scrimmage, 4 sacks, 2 passes defensed, and a fumble recovery. Additionally, Miami received a boost from a graduate transfer in the form of Tito Odenigbo, who played his best football at the end of the season, while contributing 25 total tackles, 5.5 behind the line of scrimmage.

Fast forward to the 2019 season and Miami is once again needing to replace both starters at the position and once again hoping for a boost from a graduate transfer. This time, Chigozie Nnoruka will fill the role of graduate transfer hoping to revive his career after a scheme change at UCLA negated his biggest weapon; quickness off the snap. In Miami's pressure defensive scheme, his quickness should allow him to play his best football and fill a role either as a starter, or as quality depth.

Where things get interesting is who will play the role of Gerald Willis and make that unexpected gigantic leap into stardom at the DT position? Miami fans are hoping for a huge second-year leap from the perpetually agitated Nesta Silvera, but after being forced into action as a true freshman and contributing only 13 total tackles, with 1.5 going for a loss, is he ready to fill that role? Senior-to-be Pat Bethel is a hard-working plug who hopes to take his performance to another level in his last season with Miami after serving as a part-time starter last year. Bethel contributed 22 total tackles, 5 going for loss, with two sacks last year. Numbers that need to increase across the board this year.

Privately, team sources have been very encouraged with third-year player Jonathan Ford's development this offseason. The hope is that Ford can turn tools into performance this season as he seeks to add a pass rush move to his repertoire and improve his pad level. Ford has unusual length for the position and if the strength gains in the weight room carry over to the football field, he could step into a starting role this season. Jordan Miller has remade his body under new S&C coach David Feeley, and will look to improve his stamina this season. Miller has good movement skills for a player of 325 pounds, but he came into the system raw from a technique standpoint and may need another year of development to be a consistent contributor. Tyreic Martin will continue to serve as depth on the interior this season.

Over the summer, UM added three highly-touted freshmen in addition to the aforementioned Nnoruka in the form of Jalar Holley, Jared Harrison-Hunte, and Jason Blissett Jr. Each of the three have the talent to contribute this season, if necessary. Blissett is the highest rated of the year, and he has the type of athletic profile that has led to success at the position in the past. Harrison-Hunte is a basketball player who is still growing as a football player. His explosive first step might allow him to see early playing time. Holley is often times overlooked among the incoming group of DT's, but the Georgia native comes from a strong program, performed against quality competition, and had the strength to throw a shot put 46.5' his senior year. If nothing else, this excellent group of young DT's will make lives difficult for the first-team OL while on scout team.


Bottom Line

Another season, another year of questions on who will step up at the DT position. For me, this is the position that is most essential to a Manny Diaz defense operating at the highest level. It is imperative that the defensive line get pressure in this system, but it is even more important for the defense to get pressure up-the-middle and force the offense to move laterally or try to throw the ball in the face of pressure.

Replacing a player like Gerald Willis will not be easy, and I do not anticipate one single player having the season that he did, but the good news is this is a very talented group of DT's collectively. Two seniors at the position allow for experience and leadership. Nesta Silvera brings an elite-level talent to the group who already has a season under his belt to know what it takes to succeed at this level. Then an impressive group of newcomers joins two players hoping to take another leap in their development in Jonathan Ford and Jordan Miller.

I see a group that is more than the sum of their parts and has a variety of types to play different roles and keep the collective performance high at this position. I do expect to see a slight step back from this group when compared to last season's production but the hope is that steps forward in other areas of the team will allow the team to mask any deficiencies at the DT position with more rest, more obvious passing situations where the defense can replace a DT with an edge player moving inside to rush the passer, and creative use of their speed at LB to get pressure up-the-middle.
Excellent expose Lance! Good and realistic points on a pair of positions (DTs) that, as you state, are critical to our success. Thank you for your always excellent analyses. Your contributions are always worth taking the time to read!
 
Not the first or the last time you will put your foot in your mouth.

True, not sure what I was thinking. Those 46 career tackles and 3 career sacks prove me wrong.
 
I don't think there is an All-Conference player outside of maybe Nesta provided he gets enough snaps...but its a unit that should never be tired. Lots of guys that should be seeing snaps.
Ford's potential>>>>>>>>>>Nesta's potential
 
True, not sure what I was thinking. Those 46 career tackles and 3 career sacks prove me wrong.
Just like Berrios senior year or any litany of seniors who stepped up and the light came on. Bum ass porster
 
This group doesn’t really inspire much confidence.
 
Man it's a shame that Gerald got stuck on such a bad team last year... Do you guys remember this dude single-handedly blowing up LSU's o-line in Game 1? On a better team he would have gotten a lot more recognition. Just bad timing.
I’m still flabbergasted he went undrafted.
 

2022 Commits

WR
6'2"
185
Nashville, TN
CB
6'0"
160
Lexington, MS
QB
6'4"
205
Valdosta, GA
CB
6'1"
175
Fort Myers, FL
CB
6'2"
180
Alabaster, AL
S
6'1"
170
Orlando, FL
WR
6'1"
185
Mandeville, LA
MLB
6'1"
210
Manvel, TX
OT
6'7"
275
Sandersville, GA

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