Previously set to make his decision on July 21st, 2019 St. Thomas Aquinas LB Avery Huff moved up his announcement date and committed to the Canes on Monday night.
The 6-3, 200-pounder is currently a 4-star in the national rankings. According to the 247Sports Composite, Huff is the #321 player nationally, #20 OLB in the country, and the #50 player in the Sunshine State. His commitment moves Miami’s class ranking up to 7th on 247Sports and 8th on Rivals.
Miami is recruiting Huff as an OLB prospect, but he has an adequate frame to put on weight and play inside LB as well if his body develops that way. Huff played for a wayward McArthur team that struggled to a 1-9 record last season, but will get much more exposure in his senior year after making the move to St. Thomas.
Huff plays with a violent and reckless abandon, demonstrating the “killer-instinct” mentality that it takes to succeed as a LB at the next level. He pairs that with great speed and shows he is a disruptive force behind the line of scrimmage. Huff plays on a downhill tilt and is aggressive while always looking to draw first blood. Fast to see how a play will develop, Huff processes what he is seeing and responds quickly, creating tackles for losses by shooting gaps at appropriate angles. He has the athleticism and awareness to excel in coverage, but those skills will have to be continued to be refined.
Huff's commitment brings the total class numbers to 12, and he is the Canes' fourth take at LB. Mount Dora 3-star Jesiah Pierrecan play both inside and outside linebacker and he is complemented by a pass-rushing specialist, Miami Northwestern 3-star Samuel Brooks, a pure OLB all the way. Huff’s STA teammate at the second level of the Raiders’ defense, 4-star Anthony Solomon, also pledged to Miami last month and is exactly the type of rangy, sideline-to-sideline player Manny Diaz wants at OLB. Diaz was integral in getting Huff into Surge19 and deserves the credit for landing the talented 4-star.
The Canes were light on LB in the 2018 class, taking only Patrick Joyner, likely knowing they were expecting to take a large crop in the deep 2019 class at LB. While the target number in this class for LB was always 4 and Miami has plenty of other needs to address, the Canes are still evaluating prospects at the position and would potentially be fine taking a fifth if there is room and it’s the right guy.
Who could that guy be? Well, STA 3-star Jahmar Brown continues to be evaluated by the staff and is heavily coveted by Diaz. While right now Mark Richt is set with the four LB’s committed, UM’s defensive coordinator is pushing for the Canes to take Brown in this class, so this is still a developing situation. Wekiva 4-star DE/OLB Rian Davis just put the Canes in his top 12 and is a hybrid-type that Miami is looking at as a LB for now. He could become a swingman take at LB that could eventually be moved to DE down the road.
Chaminade-Madonna 4-star LB/S Keontra Smith is a Miami-lean that has played both positions in off-season camps and would seem to be an ideal fit for the striker role in Miami’s defense. However, Miami is looking at Smith as a pure safety at this time, so his likely commitment will not affect the number of takes at LB this cycle.
Miami returns all three starters at the LB position going into the 2018 season, with Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud all juniors, which also sets UM up to be in a pretty good spot in 2019 as well if all stay for their senior seasons. Diaz loves to rotate at every position, so having plenty of capable bodies at LB is preferred.
Next year, Miami loses Mike Smith and Charles Perry to graduation, while the possibility exists that Quarterman or Pinckney could leave early for the NFL. For now though, we’re operating under the assumption they will be back in 2019. The addition of the striker position throws a wrench into future projections of the LB’s, because it’s tough to know who exactly is projecting where and how often the Canes will use that look. We’ll know a lot more once the 2018 season starts.
Huff and his classmates will fight with Joyner and the 2017 signees at LB for backup reps as true freshmen. The starting lineup completely clears out after 2019 though, and there will be a battle royale in 2020 for all three positions. Huff has as good a chance as anyone to win that competition and start as a sophomore.
Mike Smith and Charles Perry are the two LBs that are graduating and if they decide to leave early Pinckney and Quarterman will be lost to the draft. Guess you didn’t read Stephen Adams breakdown up top.