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Miami Hurricanes Position Preview: Defensive Tackle

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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 long searched for answers: Defensive Tackle

Where have you gone Cortez Kennedy?

A 'Canes Nation turns its' lonely eyes to you.....(woo woo woo)

Unless it is turning its' eyes to the late great Jerome Brown, Warren Sapp, Russell Maryland, or Vince Wilfork?

You get the drift.

UM, oft labelled "QB U", could just as easily be recognized for its' historical dominance along the interior defensive line spots.

But it has been a while.

Of all the shortcomings of the program in recent memory, the ability to recruit and develop stud DT/NTs has been arguably the most glaring weakness.

Last season while the defense made strides as a whole, and while some of the issues in the GT and Nebraska games in particular came down to questionable alignment/playcalling, this unit did not exactly stand out.

Miami was 97th nationally in tackles for loss.

To be the program they once were (or even just contend for the Coastal Division Crown), that has to change.

In 2015 there are reasons for hope.

A lot of whispers this off season have them going to a more simplified and aggressive one gap approach, rather than the thinking man's/hold your ground two gap scheme they have employed quite a bit of in recent seasons.

That should help.

But they also need JUCO transfers Michael Wyche (slimmed down to 315 this off season) and Calvin Heurtelou, to be more than stop gaps and make some plays in their second years in the program.

They also need sophomores Courtel Jenkins and Anthony Moten to emerge.

Jenkins in particular has the talent to break out and be a real disruptive presence.  His progress will be key.

And true freshman Kendrick Norton is a beast on film.  Do not be surprised if he gets a lot of early looks.

No, this group does not have a Kennedy, Sapp, Brown or Wilfork in its' midst.

But it does have potential to be a lot better than it has been.

A successful season could hinge upon it.

Roster Overview -

What they lost:

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF F
Olsen Pierre DT
13 26.0 3.7% 2.5 0.0 0 2 0 0

Key Returning Players:

Calvin Heurtelou DT 6'3, 315 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8690 13 16.5 2.3% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Courtel Jenkins DT 6'1, 314 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8425 12 10.5 1.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Michael Wyche DT 6'4, 325 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8628 10 6.0 0.8% 0.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Anthony Moten DT 6'4, 299 So. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9266 10 1.5 0.2% 0.0 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

Freshmen to Watch:

Kendrick Norton DT 6'3, 310 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8860
Ryan Fines DT 6'3, 310 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8860

Projected Starters:

DT1: Michael Wyche/Calvin Heurtelou (interchangable 1/1A)

DT2: Courtel Jenkins/Anthony Moten

Best Pass Rusher:  Ufomba Kamalu

Highest Upside: Courtel Jenkins

Sleeper Candidate to Start:  Kendrick Norton

Summary:

'Canes fans do have reasons to be optimistic at this all important position beyond 2015, as Jenkins, Moten, and Norton look like pretty stout players with high ceilings.

For the upcoming season it will be interesting to see how this group fairs, especially if there are significant schematic changes.

Wyche looked sensational on his JUCO film, but barely saw the field last season due to injuries/conditioning issues. When he did get game action, he barely made an impact.   He doesn't seem to use his base all that well, but perhaps the weight loss, and being in a more aggressive defense will help him improve.  The 315 pound California native looks like a favorite to start, so Hurricanes fans have to hope there is significant improvement from Wyche.

Heurtelou is right there with Wyche as a candidate to start.   His upside isn't as high but at least you know what you will get from him.

I love the potentials of Jenkins and the frosh Norton.

Of the current players on the roster, those two have the best chance to bring back memories of historically dominant 'Canes DTs.

But both are young players, so it might be a lot to ask for superstar play just yet.

And Kamalu is a high motor player who will do a good job from the inside in pass rushing situations.

Overall this is a group, that while not overwhelmingly impressive, should be far more productive.

In 2015, as a group, they need to put up 8-12 sacks and 10+ TFLs.  With the talented group of DEs they play alongside of, there is no excuse for anything less.