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Miami Hurricanes Football 2015 Preview: Defensive Ends

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During the offseason, we at State of the U will bring you previews of opponents, current players and position breakdowns. This installment brings you a breakdown of the position where Miami has some potential studs, but needs more on field production: defensive end.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami is deep at DE, but do they have a superstar or two on the roster?

Even the most ardent Al Golden critic will admit that AG has done a very good job upgrading the roster with super talented edge rushers.

Chad Thomas was one of the most sought after players in the country, regardless of position, back in 2014.

And most pundits agreed that Booker T. Washington's Demetrius Jackson was/is a big time sleeper.

2013 brought UM a blue chipper in Al-Quadin Muhammad.

Add to the mix accomplished H.S players like Trent Harris, and 2 very good freshmen in Scott Patchan and Richard McIntosh Jr.  and you have a very deep, talented, and eclectic group.

But with the exception of Ufomba Kamalu (who also plays inside) and Jelani Hamilton (seldom used), this is not exactly the most experienced group.

Kamalu (3.5 sacks last year)  and Muhammad (2.0 in 2013) are the leading returning pass rushers in terms of on field production at this level.

The Miami Hurricanes defense did make some strides in 2014.

But it is a unit that is starved for a big time, superstar, pass rusher.

Muhammad and Thomas in particular have a world of talent.

One or both need to emerge as impact players in 2015 for Miami to contend in the Coastal Division of the ACC and beyond.

Good seasons from  Harris (who has impressed the staff with his intelligence),  and Jackson (ungodly talent in his own right) would really help the cause as well.

If none of these players take major strides forward and produce results reflective of their capabilities, it can and will be another long season for UM.

Roster Overview:

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR

Key losses:

Anthony Chickillo DE
13 30.5 4.3% 4.5 3.0 0 3 1 0

Key  returning players:

Trent Harris DE 6'2, 245 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8987 12 12.0 1.7% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Ufomba Kamalu DT/DE 6'6, 295 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) NR 13 27.5 3.9% 4.0 3.5 0 2 0 0
Chad Thomas DE 6'5, 265 So. 5 stars (6.1) 0.9877 12 5.0 0.7% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Al-Quadin Muhammad (2013) DE 6'3, 260 So. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9750 13 7.5 1.0% 2.0 2.0 0 0 0 0

Freshman/RS to watch:

Scott Patchan DE 6'6, 245 Fr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8752
Richard McIntosh, Jr. DE 6'4, 270 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8544
Demetrius Jackson DE 6'5, 250 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8755

Projected Starters:

DE1: Chad Thomas

DE2: Al-Quadin Muhammad

Goal line /3-4 early downs: Ufomba Kamalu

Sleeper: Trent Harris

Interesting caveat worth noting:

Mike Smith, recruited as a DE,  is now listed as a LB.

Summary/Projections:

Despite missing all of 2014 for a disciplinary issue, Muhammad is the guy I expect to be "the guy," at least early on. 7-10 sacks and 5+ TFL should be well within his reach.

There were whispers that Thomas came to UM with a lot of expectation that success would come naturally.

True or not this is the player in my opinion that new DL Coach Randy Melvin was brought in most to reach.  Thomas could give the 'Canes anything from 2-10 sacks depending on his work ethic and attitude. I'll split the difference and say he puts up around 6 and starts to look like a beast by season's end.

Kamalu would really benefit as a run stuffer/havoc creator if Miami goes to more one gap looks as rumored. He's also good for 2-3 sacks a season on his motor alone.

Jackson is a real wild card.   His athleticism is ridiculous.  If he can learn the subtleties of the position he could be right there with Thomas and AQM.  I think in 2015 he makes some strides and makes a few ridiculous plays on his was to 3-5 sacks.

Harris is more polished than Jackson, but perhaps not as explosive.  Looks for similar production from him.

Patchan and McIntosh Jr.  are both good enough that they have very little chance of RS seasons.

I like McIntosh as an early run stuffer, and Patchan to add something in the pass rush, as freshmen.

Overall I expect Miami's pass rush to be much better in 2015, anchored by this group of DEs.

But will it be a unit so tremendous it carries the D to heights not previously seen in the Golden Era?   The kind of levels that keep opposing offensive coordinators up late at night?

The talent is there to awaken the ghosts of Jerome McDougle, Rusty Medearis, Daniel Stubbs, and Calias Campbell, among others.

If the Miami Hurricanes are to make a splash in the ACC and National scenes in 2015 this is a group that absolutely must produce.