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2021 Spring Preview: Safety

2021 Spring Preview: Safety

Canes Legacy
Offseason Additions: Kamren Kinchens (2021 signee)

Offseason Departures: Jalen Harrell (moved to CB)

The safety position is one steeped in great tradition at the University of Miami. From greats like Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, and Bennie Blades, excellence is expected when talking about the back end of any Hurricane defense. Unfortunately, the 2020 safety group failed to live up to that expectation. From missed tackles, poor angles, ejections, and overall inconsistent play, the safeties were a major talking point amongst Cane fans for the decline of the defense under then Defensive Coordinator Blake Baker.

With former safety coach Ephraim Banda off to lead the Utah State defense, Manny Diaz made a major splash in the offseason with the hire of Travaris Robinson as DB Coach. The Miami native is well regarded for his recruiting acumen and ability to develop his guys into high NFL draft picks. For a program that hasn’t had a safety drafted higher than the 4th round since 2008 (Kenny Phillips- 1st round), Robinson brings instant credibility both on the recruiting trail and on the field. He inherits a deep and experienced roster with 7 safeties available this spring.

Bubba Bolden started off the 2020 year looking like the next great Miami safety and future day 1 or 2 draft pick, but his play fell off and his hopes of declaring early faded away as the season went on. He enters 2021 with a chip on his shoulder and will be looked upon as one of the leaders of Manny Diaz’s defense. Bolden’s intensity provides a spark and if he can bring that week in and week out, the entire defense will be better. It’s a safe bet to pencil Bolden in as one of the starters at safety.

The 2nd starting spot is where things can be fluid. Former highly regarded recruit Gurvan Hall has yet to take the next step in his development. Hall is an experienced player, appearing in 30 games in his Hurricane career, but has made few notable plays in that time. He is a guy that could benefit the most from Robinson joining the coaching staff and teaching him the finer points of the position. However, it is feasible that Hall gets passed up on the depth chart by some of the young talent behind him.

Brian Balom is one guy who will be pushing for an increased role and maybe even a starting spot. The 2nd year safety out of Miramar was thrusted into a role in 4 games due to injuries and ejections but did not appear lost. While he didn’t make any “wow” plays, he did prove that he belongs. With a year under his belt and a full spring to further develop, Balom will make his case to be in the 2-deep once spring practice concludes.

Speaking of ejections, Amari Carter decided to use the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA and return for his 5th year as a Hurricane after appearing in 41 games in his career. Carter’s head-hunting style of play lead to the ire of many Canes’ fans with his multiple ejections last year for targeting. Carter’s average play the last 4 years will most likely lead him to a reserve role in the Canes secondary. He is best utilized as an in the box type safety and a move to linebacker might be in Carter’s best interest if he has any aspirations of making it to the NFL.

The wildcard in this group is Avantae Williams. After a neck issue kept him on the sidelines last year, the former #1 safety recruit and consensus top 100 player out of Deland has been cleared for contact and will be a full participant in spring practice. This is a great opportunity for Williams to knock off the rust and show the physical attributes that made him such a highly regarded recruit in the 2020 cycle. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to see Williams rise up the depth chart the further into spring we get. With how naturally talented he is, and if Robinson feels the need to get him on the field, he could see reps at nickel as well.

Rounding out the position group in the spring is 2 young guys in Keshawn Washington and 2021 signee Kamren Kinchens. Washington saw limited playing time during the regular season and did get some snaps in the bowl game. With so much talent and experience ahead of him on the depth chart, Washington will really need to stand out this spring if he wants to see any significant playing time outside of special teams. Kinchens arrives at Miami with a reputation for having a high football IQ and being a leader on the field. The Miami Northwestern standout will spend the spring getting acclimated to college football practices and schemes.

Bottom Line

Diaz’s scheme relies on the safeties to do everything from coverage, to run support, to rushing the passer. The competition during the spring will be a major storyline especially with a new set of eyes judging this position group. Outside of Bolden, who still has a lot to prove himself, will Robinson roll with the experience in Hall and Carter? Or will the younger guys emerge in Williams and Balom? Competition is good and there will be a lot of it. Robinson has a deep and diverse set of players in his safety room to work his magic with regarding a positional group that needs a rebound year in 2021.

Comments (9)

I said the same thing re Amari Carter. I guess you got James Williams pegged for Striker. Hall the X-Factor IMO. If TRob can get him to play to potential then we good at Safety with him, Bubba, Avante, Kinchens, Balom and ***Jim Wms.
I said the same thing re Amari Carter. I guess you got James Williams pegged for Striker. Hall the X-Factor IMO. If TRob can get him to play to potential then we good at Safety with him, Bubba, Avante, Kinchens, Balom and ***Jim Wms.
This is the Spring Preview. James Williams is not enrolling early so he will miss spring.
I said the same thing re Amari Carter. I guess you got James Williams pegged for Striker. Hall the X-Factor IMO. If TRob can get him to play to potential then we good at Safety with him, Bubba, Avante, Kinchens, Balom and ***Jim Wms.

Not saying it can't/won't happen but I think what we've seen from Gurvan Hall the last 3 years is what he is, an average safety at best. Hasn't really made too many splash plays and that's concerning with how often he's been on the field.

Trob has no loyalty to any of these guys which is one of the most underrated aspects of the safety room. It doesn't matter how long Carter or Hall have been here, the best players will play.

James Williams will be here in the summer so he's not included but I see him having every opportunity to star at safety. If he outgrows it which is a real possibility, I think Striker is in his future. If he can stay around 220-225 and continue to be explosive than that's one hell of a force at safety.
Threw me there with Kermit. Washington was the guy who knocked out Rudy T wasn’t he in the game versus Houston Rockets?

Anyways, the S position is by far the deepest and most diverse talent wise across the defense. I think with the advent of TRob as their positional coach that we’ll see spirited Spring practice amongst those in attendance, prior to the arrival of JWill. I think Bubba shows down the FS spot leaving SS open for Hall or Tae to compete. Hall better step up his game big time to hold off AWill from taking his spot. Safety is a position I think we’re experience plays a big part in who will start. Look for Hall to win the other S role and Tae and Avalon holding down the backup roles. All in all, if TRob can get spirited play out of the back-end, the defense will play lights better than we saw in 2020.
I see Bolden solid in his starting spot. the other spot will be fun to watch with Tae/Hall/Carter (until told otherwise)/Balom/Washington/Kinchens. TRob has got a TON of talent and depth to work with.

I think my bold take is an obvious take, Tae will be penciled in as co-starter with whomever the #2 safety winds up being
Bolden and Tae would give this defense endless creative looks. That’s my choice. I’d prefer Williams to be a backup along with Hall. Sorry but Carter can kick rocks.

2022 Commits

Valdosta, GA

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