The Work 3-9
Last week, I broke down Miami's 2016 offensive class. Tonight, we look at the defense. The number one thing that jumps out to me about this side of the ball for the 2016 class is the versatility across the board. A number of these guys can play multiple spots and that is a great weapon to have at your disposal as a defense.
I am impressed at the number of twitchy athletes already compiled in this group, which is something that we’ve seen the staff slowly stockpiling over the past couple of classes. The strength of this entire class right now seems to be at the linebacker spot where there are four (or five depending on what position Devin Gil plays) kids who each bring a different element to the table.
Joseph Jackson – Gulliver – DE
Jackson was one of Miami’s commitments from Junior Day about a month back and this is another kid with tremendous upside as a pass rusher. The first thing that his coaches tell you about him is that his work ethic is through the roof. He has gained about 20 pounds since the start of his junior season, which is a great sign for his development. People who have watched him say that he would be much better if he went 110% every play, but that should come with time as it does with most young linemen. Has the body that should grow into more of a true down lineman, as opposed to a stand-up rusher. Will only improve as he continues to master his craft.
Devin Gil – Flanagan – LB/S
Gil is one of those kids that I’m not sure this Miami staff would have taken a chance on a year or two ago because he doesn’t have a true “position” yet, but he is a tremendous football player. I saw Gil for the first time about a year ago at this time in the 7-on-7 circuit and he was dominating at the safety spot. The intriguing thing about him as a prospect is that he could easily transition to the linebacker spot and excels up near the line in more of a “rover” role. Great tackler and instincts. Seems to always be around the football.
Zach McCloud – Santaluces – LB
Length and fluidity are the first two things that you notice when watching McCloud’s tape. Already at 6-3, 220, McCloud can get downhill in a hurry and explode through the line of scrimmage. He has excellent hips for his position and size, which could get him on the field early at Miami in coverage situations. Plays every LB spot for Santaluces and shows flashes as an edge-rusher as well. Intriguing prospect with a high ceiling.
Michael Pinckney – Raines – LB
Pinckney is a true thumper. He locates the ball and attacks without much wasted movement. He seems to be a leader on-and-off the field as well, which is just an added bonus. A little on the short side, but makes up for that with his compact build and ability as a tackler in the open field.
Shaquille Quarterman – Oakleaf – LB
Miami is building a nice little pipeline of linebackers out of Oakleaf, as they brought in Darrion Owens in the 2014 class, now followed by Quarterman two classes later. Has the looks of a big-time SEC linebacker and can run sideline-to-sideline. Powerful tackler who really drives through the ball carrier. Can change direction very well for his size (about 6-1, 235) and puts up big numbers in the weight room.
Greg Simmons – Fort Pierce Central – LB
Simmons is not getting the same hype as the other linebackers committed, but he is one of my personal favorites in the class. Not very tall, but he gets after it and excels as a blitzer. It might be the #31 that he wears, but I saw some Sean Spence in him. Instinctive football player.
Deion Jackson – Hallandale - CB
Jackson arguably has the most upside of any player in this class. He was one of the most impressive prospects at the South Florida Express tryouts. His length and fluidity jump out at you right away when you see him in person. Although he is only a 3-star right now, I see the usual SEC suspects offering by the start of summer. Will need to bulk up a bit, but that will come naturally. Reminds me of Rashard Robinson from Ely a few years back.
Cedrick Wright – Gulliver – DB
Wright is your prototypical South Florida “football player”. When you see him in street clothes or in a combine setting, he might not impress you all that much, but when the pads come on it’s a different story. Some have likened his role to that of Tyrann Mathieu and I agree that premise. Can play deep at safety in a ball-hawk role, cover the slot, blitz as a nickel, and he even plays some linebacker for Gulliver. You appreciate him the more you watch him.
James Wiggins – South Dade – DB
Wiggins plays a lot of receiver for the Bucs, but will play defensive back as a Hurricane. He shows the ability to come up with the ball in crowds at its highest point, which is a valuable skill for a safety to have. Has extremely quick feet so I could see him playing as either a nickel corner or a third safety in the game at Miami. I’m excited to see his development this season because he had a productive junior year.
Evan Hinson – Deltona – ATH
One thing that we’ve seen with this staff over the past 3 or 4 years is that they are not afraid to take a chance on a kid who shows ability in another sport with promise on the football field. Hinson is another example of that. At 6-5, 210, Hinson is still extremely raw but shows some impressive quick-twitch ability for his size. Miami is leaning towards using him on the offensive side of the ball is a flex tight end who can stretch the field. The Daytona Beach News-Journal just named him the 2014-2015 Prep Basketball Player of the Year after averaging 23.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 4.7 APG.
Ahmmon Richards – Wellington – ATH
I probably should have included Richards in the last article I wrote, because he will play receiver at Miami. One of the Canes’ first commits for this class, Richards is a pure playmaker who can get behind the defense and pick up a lot of yards after the catch. Can play inside or outside equally as well.
Tyler Byrd – Naples – ATH
Miami fans should be very, very excited about Byrd, who first caught my attention at a camp two years ago. This is a prospect with a pro body at corner, which is what he will play in all likelihood at Miami. One of the smoothest athletes in the class and has elite hips for his size. Excels in press coverage situations and I expect to see him on the field very early as a Hurricane.