This past spring Michael Pinckney entered Coral Gables as a 3 star recruit, and was ranked #516 amongst his class. He was as underrated a recruit as any in the nation, but by the time he began practice, his talent became clear.
Pinckney began fighting for first team reps immediately, and by the time Miami’s season opener came around, he was solidified as the team’s starter.
Proud of @56_Nightmares for winning Most Improved LB! Improvement never stops! #Attack pic.twitter.com/FAc4aIw7zl— Manny Diaz (@Coach_MannyDiaz) April 16, 2016
Pinckney described being a Miami Hurricane as being a player “who is dominant,” and he has become the embodiment of consistency since he arrived.
The linebacker posted 57 total tackles as a true freshman, and six and a half tackles for loss. The 6’1” defender made a habit of stopping the opposing running game, and was rewarded with a slot on the ESPN freshman all-american team.
The Russell Athletic Bowl vs West Virginia will be Pinckney’s first bowl game at Miami, but the Hurricanes’ second trip to the bowl in 4 years.
“Bowl games are always a combination of business and pleasure,” Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “When you first get there you have a chance to sight see and do more of those social events, and as the game gets closer it’s time to lock in.”
The team has locked in on the bowl game, and Michael Pinckney has been locked in on his ultimate goals since day 1. As a recruit, Pinckney said he visualized greatness whenever he saw himself in a Miami uniform, and thus far it has come to fruition.
The true freshman may have one of his toughest challenges ahead against West Virginia; however, as he is set to face off against the number 18 ranked rushing attack in the nation. The Mountaineers are led by junior running back Justin Crawford, who rushed for 1168 yards in 2016, and will present problems over the middle through both their passing and running game.
Michael Pinckney and Miami’s linebackers have responded to the challenge every time this season, but with Miami facing a decade-long bowl victory drought, the freshman may have to put forth his best performance yet to get a victory.