The Hurricanes are searching for their next breakout star at the defensive end position. Miami had the rare feat of having their top two pass rushers picked in the first round during the 2021 NFL Draft. Now the question on every fan’s mind is can Miami fill those holes and replace that production?
The Next Defensive End For The Miami Hurricanes
Since the arrival of Manny Diaz, one of the positions that consistently played well has been the defensive line. More specifically the defensive ends. Since 2016 Miami has had a defensive end reach seven and a half sacks or more. Prior to 2016, Miami did not have a player with more than 7.5 sacks dating back to 2006 with Calais Campbell and Kareem Brown. With Diaz firmly in place, the defensive line should be back and better than ever.
Time To Grow Up
The Hurricanes signed two defensive ends in 2019 whom they will be heavily dependent upon this year. Jahfari Harvey and Cameron Williams both are expected to compete for a starting position. Furthermore, each player saw action in every game coming off the bench. With Harvey having the most production. As they enter their third season both players should be ready to make an immediate impact on the field.
Redshirt freshman Chantz Williams could also get into the mix after appearing in four games last season. The former Under Armour All-American came out of high school as the seventh-rated defensive end in the 2020 class. Coaches have raved about Williams’ ability to run even after bulking up to 255 pounds.
The Canes are again hoping to strike gold in the transfer portal especially after having their last two transfer defensive ends drafted. Their latest transfer, Deandre Johnson is a Miami native, who played his first four seasons at Tennessee. He returns home for his final season hoping to fill the void at defensive end as well as have a big season. Johnson is by far the Hurricanes’ most experienced player with ten career sacks on his resume and four years of SEC experience.
Miami also made a bold move during the Cheez-It Bowl that caught many by surprise. Diaz and his staff saw the pass rush potential of fifth-year linebacker Zach McCloud. For the bowl game, McCloud made the switch to the defensive end position. After deciding to return for his sixth season, it was announced that he would be playing his new position full-time. With his extensive game experience, he should make an immediate impact on the d-line.
Undoubtedly, the defensive end position is highly valued by the Canes. While they would not turn down another veteran. Miami believes in the young talent on their roster. Namely incoming freshmen Thomas Davis and Jabari Ishmael. These are two young players with unique abilities and they could potentially contribute this season. Davis, despite being undersized possesses twitch and pass rush ability. While Ishmael is freakishly tall with extraordinary athletic ability. He even got some playing time at middle linebacker at six foot six inches. Although the Hurricanes will continue to keep their eyes on the transfer portal this summer, just in case, another talented pass rusher needs a new home.