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Roster Breakdown: Defensive End

National Signing Day is drawing near, and to offer our fans as much information as possible, State of the U is presenting our position breakdown series. We will let you know who is back, who is new, and how each player projects for the 2015 season.

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This particular roster breakdown encompasses a group that, while losing a key starter, has fans excited for years to come. Names like Chad Thomas, Al-Quadin Muhammad, and Ufomba Kamalu highlight the list, but several underclassmen and incoming freshman look to generate hype of their own. Let's pin our ears back and storm the backfield as we assess the Hurricanes' depth at defensive end.

Who We Lost

Anthony Chickillo - Soon-to-be ProCane Anthony Chickillo has graduated and moved on to his next conquest of playing in the NFL. This legacy Cane was a leader along the line, starting as a freshman and earning a high number of snap counts throughout each of his four years at Miami. His presence is missed, but talent awaits at defensive end.

Returning Players

Ufomba Kamalu, R-Sr. (DE/DT 6‘6" 295lbs) - Ufomba Kamalu came on strong in 2014, taking part in 13 games and registering 34 tackles, 4 TFL, and 3.5 sacks. Occasionally lined up at defensive tackle for third down packages, Kamalu has a commanding physical presence who holds his own on the ends and provides another option in the middle.

Al-Quadin Muhammad, R-Soph. (6‘4" 245lbs) - AQM returning to the defensive line rotation plays a major part in how successful this grouping will be next season. Impressing as a freshman, it wasn't hard to see that the 4-star New Jersey product has talent and will wreak havoc once given time to hone his abilities. Remembered fondly for his tag team rushing attack with Tyriq McCord, when these two sought and destroyed, well, they did just that. Muhammad has many fans, myself included, foaming at the mouth expecting his return.

Tyriq McCord, Sr. (6‘3" 248lbs) - McCord returns for his senior season at Miami. He'll still be present on third downs, but figures to see added playing time with the departure of Anthony Chickillo. The Hurricanes list Tyriq as a linebacker on the official roster and older depth charts. However, while he drops back in coverage, his greatest strength is using his quickness and burst to get after opposing quarterbacks. McCord started 12 games and was a solid contributor last season with 48 tackles, 6.5 for a loss and 3 sacks.

Chad Thomas, Soph. (6‘5" 265lbs) - Chad Thomas, a heavily recruited 5-star commit from the 2014 class, saw action in 12 games as a true freshman this past year, recording 7 tackles, 1 TFL. With his first spring at The U and the UTough program just getting underway, Thomas is poised to take on a much larger role on defense. Like AQM, Chad Thomas has a wealth of potential and has fans anxiously awaiting his development.

Jelani Hamilton, R-Jr. (6‘5" 290) - Jelani Hamilton redshirted his junior year after appearing sparingly his freshman and sophomore years. Hamilton is one of four DEs that redshirted last season (AQM, Mike Smith and Demetrius Jackson are the others). It is unusual for a player to take a developmental redshirt so late in their career, but Hamilton has yet to live up to the hype the 4-star 9th rated DE brought to campus. Given his size, the former St. Thomas Aquinas standout has loads of potential and two more years to become the beast he can be.

Trent Harris, Soph. (6‘2" 238lbs) - After arriving as an early enrollee from the 2014 class, Trent Harris saw extensive playing time as a freshman, making appearances in 12 games and getting his first career start against Pitt. Harris seems to be used in a similar role to Tyriq McCord, applying pressure on the ends and occasionally dropping back in coverage. After recording 15 tackles, 1 TFL as a true freshman, Harris is poised to have a break-out sophomore year.

Mike Smith (6‘1" 225lbs) & Demetrius Jackson (6‘5" 240lbs), R-Fr. - Both, having redshirted their freshman year, look destined to add support on special teams as they continue to develop. Smith is a little under-sized for the position, with Jackson having the higher ceiling. Jackson's senior year at Booker T, the only year he played varsity football, recorded 68 tackles and 12 sacks earning a 4-star ranking playing opposite Chad Thomas. Tim "Ice" Harris coached them both that year and said of the former basketball standout, "He's a freak talent. You can look at him and Chad Thomas, they compliment each other well. Demetrius probably has him in speed, movements. That's going to work out well." per Manny Navarro, Miami Herald.

Verbal Commits

Scott Patchan (6'5" 237lbs) - Hailing from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, Scott Patchan arrived on campus January 7th as one of five early enrollees. Another top-shelf legacy Cane (son of Canes great OL Matt Patchan) in the mold of Anthony Chickillo, but with more speed and better athleticism - Chickillo 2.0, if you will. Patchan missed his entire senior season after an ACL tear, but was still highly regarded as one of the top DEs in this class.

Richard McIntosh (6'4" 270lbs) (DE/DT) - Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale, FL) - As our recruiting guru, Cam Underwood, wrote in his awesomely informative recruiting updates, McIntosh is a versatile athlete that could see time at either defensive tackle or end. McIntosh had a break-out senior season and was heavily recruited, but the All-Broward First Teamer chose to stick with The U and we're glad he did.

NSD Targets

Austrian Robinson (6'6" 255lbs) - Trinity-Pawling School (Pawling, NY) - Robinson plans on announcing between Maryland, Miami, and Ole Miss next week, but the Terrapins lead by a wide margin.

Shelton Johnson (6'5" 220lbs) - Atlantic (Delray Beach, FL) - Johnson is down to Florida State and Miami for his final decision with FSU as the presumed favorite. The Palm Beach County Defensive POY missed his OV to Tallahassee due to illness, but FSU coaches showed he is a high priority with an in-home visit instead. Maybe Cameron Underwood knows something we don't, he has Johnson tagged to The U in his NSD Predictions.

Simi Moala (6'7" 250lbs) - Cathedral (Los Angeles, CA) - Moala is an interesting prospect though not necessarily a need for this class. He figures to be a major project. Cam Underwood wrote about him HERE.