National Signing day was big for the Canes all around, but the defensive backfield got probably the biggest boost of them all. Not only did we pull in some serious start-right-away talent, but we took a position of need and turned it into one that will be covered for at least a few years. While the existing players are talented in their own right, they were few and far between. The incoming guys will (not should, but will) provide some immediate competition for on the field spots, and will also throw themselves into the backup roles with some authority. Let's take a look!
For this post, I won't put a clear line between cornerbacks and safeties. Not because I don't know how, but because it is much too early to tell where some of these guys will be playing. Most are pretty clear cut, but some are in between guys who could easily switch positions depending on the weight they add in the spring.
DEON BUSH - One of two big signees that came from the Army All-American game, Bush is a bruising CB/S prospect that also possesses great speed. His high school coach talked about him as a shut down corner, but Bush will almost certainly bulk up a bit and help anchor the middle of the field as a safety. He lists Sean Taylor and Ed Reed as some of his idols, and film highlights show he has a bit of both in him. He hits like a truck and has hands like a receiver, so expect to see Bush compete very early for playing time, although admittedly will have to work hard to unseat Telemaque, Armstrong, and Highsmith here.
ANTONIO CRAWFORD - One of the surprises in this class, Crawford was committed to Georgia Tech for a long time, then said he was looking at Miami, then said he was committed to GT, then visited the Canes under threat of losing his GT spot, and finally flipped his choice to Miami. I see no reason to complain, as we got a very talented cornerback in the process. While he only has one season of playing defense under his belt, he stats from that one year are phenomenal. He would rather play man to man than zone, and has the fundamentals and body to do so. There is no reason why Crawford wont be one of the guys competing for a starting nod, as Brandon McGee is really the hardest name to unseat at this position.
VERNON DAVIS - Davis is one of those camp guys that went pretty unheralded throughout his recruitment, but attended enough camps for Golden to see what he could do and how he could fit, and offer him a spot. He is a bit raw at the position, but projects to play at corner due to his size. He has decent hands, and great speed, and if he can get in the weight room a bit and lock down the playbook, he should be in the mix for a spot, although he most likely will serve as a backup.
NATE DORTCH - Another great cover guy, Dortchis known for his deceiving ability to hit. With his height and weight, he fits the mold of a speedy cover CB, but not one that likes to tackle. However, his HS coach raves about his love for knocking people down. He will be another project at the position, needing to bulk up a bit and become more durable. If he adds the pounds, he could become a very good player for the Canes.
LADARIUS GUNTER - Gunter is a JUCO guy who has the size and speed to play safety. He is listed as a junior, but due to only having played one year in junior college, has 3 years of NCAA eligibility left. He can cover a bunch of turf, and has a nose for the ball. He played mostly CB, but looks to figure more into the safety rotation for the Canes.
LARRY HOPE - Hope was one of the early enrollees that Miami had in this class, which gives him a bit of an edge on the others because he will participate in spring ball. A 3 star prospect, he is listed as a physical corner that covers well, but needs to work on his tackling. Some of that is due to him needing to put on weight, which Golden and Swasey most definitely will help him do. His name will for sure be towards the top of the chart once the season begins.
TRACY HOWARD - The jewel of the 2012 class, what is there to be said about Howard that hasn't already? He will start at CB for the Canes. There is not really a question about this. As a senior he had 8 interceptions, while the Canes had 6 as a team. He concentrated a lot on stopping the run game his senior year as well, which helped round him into the nation's top cornerback prospect. He will add much needed talent to the position, and most likely will help pad the stats of the other guys, because teams may not be so willing to throw towards him in games.
RAYSHAWN JENKINS - Listed as the nation's 27th overall safety prospect, Jenkins is already 6'2" and close to 200 pounds. His high school coach sees no reason why he wont get to 230 after being in the weight room at UM. He is one of the clear cut safeties in this class, although Golden has told him he may get some touches on offense as well. I could see him being moved to WR or TE if the safety position gets too crowded, although he looks to be right behind Bush as the better safety prospects in this class. Again, Miami has 3 established safeties already, so I would say the chances of Jenkins playing offense are about 50/50 right now.
That wraps it up for the DB's in this years class. This group is going to be fun to watch, as they are a mixed back of man to man, zone cover, and hard hitters that will anchor the defensive backfield for years. It will be so nice to see a group of kids back there that play competently, and I am sure the coaches are drooling while they wait to get these guys into camp. As always, any questions, comments, or debate leave em in the comments, and