Miami will open the season in the not so distant future, and to help you prepare for what is sure to be a great year, we are back to preview each position on the team. We will let you know who is back, who is new, and how each player projects for the 2013 season.
The Defense (as a whole) last season was a disappointment; giving up almost 500 yards a game, 200 of which were on the ground (almost 5 yards a rush); earning a ranking close to last in the FBS . The defensive tackle position was not solely to blame for the down year - but are not exempt from the finger pointing either. As an important cog in the defensive machine, the big men in the middle set the tone. Coming back this year healthy(so far) - as well as bigger, stronger and more experienced - the DTs are primed to have a bounce back year, and will no doubt be playing with a huge chip on their shoulders. With no real change up front let's look at the 2013 DTs.
Olsen Pierre/ Junior / 6'4", 305 / Rathway, New Jersey
2012 stats: 9 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss (only played in final 4 games due to injury)
Injuries... that's been the frustrating summary of Porter's past few seasons. He has the talent to make the defense better when he's on the field. He was out for most of last season due to an appendectomy - coming back to play for the final 4 games. In limited games he had 9 TTs, 5 solo, and 2.5 tackles for loss. He will look to put the past behind him and make up for lost time this season, as he battles fellow Senior Luther Robinson for playing time next to Pierre. Porter graduated in December, so he will get to solely focus on football this season. To come back time and again from injuries speaks volumes of him as a person, so it's easy to root for him. We also REALLY need him to succeed (and make contributions) if we want the defense to improve from last year. He has the size, speed and strrength that can disrupt the line, and cause match up problems, so let's all root for a healthy Curtis Porter!
Luther Robinson / Senior / 6'3", 303 / Fort Pierce, Florida
2012 stats: 13 total tackles, 7 solo
Luther Robinson has had an equally frustrating career at Miami. Coming in under Shannon and redshirting as a true freshman, he saw action on the practice squad. The following year he played in 10 games (starting in 2); nothing earth shattering stat wise but the future was bright. A season ending knee injury in 2011 was the start of a weird drama filled run that almost ended in him transferring. All things were worked out and Robinson was back on the field as a defensive tackle in 2012, playing in 10 of 12 games. He recorded 13 TTs, 7 solo and one fumble recovery. Coming into this season Robinson is looking good; listed with Porter as the other starter next to Pierre. Like with Porter and Pierre, he has the size and strength to clog up the middle. Look for Robinson to be used heavily in the rotation, regardless of if he's named starter or not.
Cory King / Sophomore / 6'1", 295 / Boca Raton, Florida
2012 stats: 13 total tackles, 6 solo
Corey King is coming into this year looking to improve upon an impressive redshirt freshman season. After redshirting the 2011 season King saw his first action last season against Bethune-Cookman. He played in 9 total games, starting against Notre Dame in replacement of an injured Olsen Pierre. That start didn't turn out so hot, but it wasn't exactly only his fault. He will however, be better from the experience. He ended the year with 13 TTs - 6 of which were solo. As a redshirt freshman King had as much production at DT as anybody other than Pierre. It wasn't exactly a stellar year for the position, but with all of the starters graduating or becoming draft eligible this season, it's good to have some production coming from young guys. This season look for KIng to rotate nicely into the line and see plenty of playing time. (He also benched 400lbs... not super important, but strength helps at DT and if I benched 400, I would want people to mention it!)
Earl Moore / Sophomore / 6'1", 300 / Tampa, Florida
2012 stats: 6 total tackles, played in all 12 games as true freshman
Big Earl is another underclassmen making contributions along the line playing in all 12 games as a true freshman. He made his lone start against North Carolina. With what is required from the DT position, you generally see true freshman redshirt to gain size strength; the fact that he played speaks of his size and talent, and also the need of healthy bodies at DT. Moore was a former 3 star recruit from Tampa and former Al Golden football camp attendee.While not listed on the Hurricane post spring 2 deep depth chart, he should see some playing time and will be fun to watch coming off of his first off season strength and conditioning program.
Jalen Grimble / Junior / 6'2", 292 / Las Vegas, Nevada
2012 stats: 6 total tackles, 4 solo
Hey look guys - a former 4/5 star defensive lineman that was committed to USC! Sorry... Coming into his junior year the former 5 star defensive end will most likely continue to be a reserve at defensive tackle. He saw limited action playing in 8 games. He ended the season with 6 TTs, 4 of which were solo. Another year bigger and stronger, he has the size to make contributions.
* Better late than never news (info via CaneSport)
Ufomba Kamalu / Sophomore / 6'6", 280/ Fayetteville GA.
2012 stats: (JUCO) 54 tackles 14 for loss, 7.5 sacks
Word came out today on again off again JUCO transfer Ufomba Kamalu will be coming to campus later this month, he needs to finish some things before, but this is good news considering his name wasn't even being brought up as an option a week ago. Does it really happen? Sure why not, a kids mom stole his LOI a few months ago so anything is possible. Can he help? Yup, while his stats are at the JUCO level there is a reason he been getting pulled in every direction by schools trying to steal him. Even the SEC. HE has size and some experience so while id be surprised if he comes in and becomes a starter the coaching staff didn't go the JUCO route to sit him. A lot of ifs but if everything falls in line our Interior just got an upgrade going forward.
With all the fire power on the offensive side of the ball and play-makers on the defense, the defensive tackle position is in my opinion the most important on the the field. If they don't jam the middle and create a push to disrupt offenses, it leaves the rest of the defense vulnerable, and Stephen Morris stuck having to put up 40+ points a game to have a shot to win. It's the same group as last year, so the glass half-full thinkers can cling to them being more experienced , bigger, faster, stronger and (with a bit of luck) healthier. The half-empty will run with the "This group is terrible - why would I have any faith in the same personnel that was terrible last year? Fire everyone!" Like with most things, somewhere in the middle seems like a good place to be, cautious optimism until they prove otherwise. It can't be any worse, right?