While fans have expectations that a new era of Miami football will begin this year under new Head Coach Mark Richt, the roster is still greatly populated with players from Al Golden’s regime.
Headlined by 2015 hero Corn Elder, there is a lot of potential on this group, but there appears to be more uncertainty.
For the last three to four years the cornerback position has been amongst the deepest units on the team. Names like Ladarius Gunter, Tracy Howard, and Artie Burns come to mind, and the unit was a model of consistency during the Golden era. In 2016; however, the cornerbacks will look a lot different.
Corn Elder (Senior)
The most recognizable player in this years secondary, Elder brings experience to the Mark Richt Era. Elder reeled in two interceptions during his 2015 campaign, but is better known for making the game winning play against both Duke and Nebraska. Elder shut down his side numerous times throughout the season, and is the closest to a sure thing this unit has. Elder is expected to be Miami’s number one cornerback, and will draw match ups versus each team’s number one wide receiver. At 5’10 Elder may seem undersized to many opponents, but like last year, his athleticism will be relied upon to make plays. Corn will have to step up as a leader for the ‘Canes this season, and if Miami expects to make a run in the ACC, he will have to have a great year.
Adrian Colbert Jr. (Graduate Transfer)
To start things off, it is important to note that coming into this season Colbert is known as a safety. Safety is the position he played at Texas, and at 6’0" 210 pounds he fits the frame. Due to the fact that Miami has two safeties who have started at the position in the past (Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins); however, Colbert may spend some time at cornerback. Despite spending multiple years at a Big 12 school, Colbert comes in with little experience as a starter. During the 2015 season, Adrian spent most of his time on special teams, where he tied for the team lead in tackles. Colbert may not have the largest track record of success, but down the stretch Miami will need his senior leadership. Only time will tell how well he fares in 2016, but it will be interesting to see how he plays at cornerback.
Sheldrick Redwine (Sophomore)
After Corn Elder and Adrian Colbert Jr., the unit takes a slippery slope towards inexperience. Next on the 2016 depth chart is Sheldrick Redwine, who will be looked towards to make a jump from special teams star to valuable contributor. Redwine is the X-Factor for this position, in my opinion, and will need to make an Artie Burns type leap to his sophomore season if Miami wants to be dominant. The reason why Redwine is the heir-apparent to his position goes back to his intangibles. At 6’1" 196 pounds, Redwine matches up well with his receivers. He is a very quick defensive back, and has used his lanky frame well since his days at Miami Killian HS (Highlights below). Redwine’s performance will be greatly indicative of how the unit performs as a whole this season, so it will be interesting to see if he can make the impact necessary to succeed.
Malek Young (Freshman)
A U.S. Army All-American who proved to be one of Mark Richt’s biggest pulls in the 2016 class. Before Richt came Young was committed to Georgia, but once Richt entered Coral Gables, Young came on board. Originally Young joined Tyler Byrd as the cornerbacks in this class, but once Byrd went to Tennessee, Young became the lone wolf. The 5’9" 182 pounder comes into Miami from Coconut Creek High School, and should be thrown into the fire early. Like Elder, Young is undersized at the cornerback position, but should be able to keep up with defenders due to his speed and quickness. Young might not be ready to start at the position right away, but due to a lack of depth he could see a lot of playing time. Young’s outlook on the season goes back to the overall theme of inexperience. If he steps up the ‘Canes should be in good shape, but if he doesn’t there aren’t many other guys to go to.
Michael Jackson (Sophomore)
This Michael Jackson isn’t known as the King of Pop amongst Miami fans, but the Birmingham, Alabama, product was a rockstar for the ‘Canes on special teams last season. As a true freshman in 2015, the 6’2" defensive back played in all 13 games. Jackson’s experience as a defensive back coming into 2016 is limited, but the sophomore may have an opportunity to make an impact due to his size and speed. Jackson was a 3 star prospect coming out of high school, so it will be interesting to see how his potential will be utilized under a new coaching staff.
Terrance Henley (Sophomore)
From Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Fla., Terrance Henley stands at 6’0" 172 pounds. Like many of the other defensive backs, Henley has little experience entering 2016. During his freshman season, Henley saw his playing time on special teams as opposed to cornerback. Henley did not record any tackles on special teams in 2015, but he figures to make an impact this upcoming season.
Ryan Mayes (Redshirt Sophomore)
At 6’1" 197 pounds, this former Miami Northwestern Bull has been a Hurricane for 2 seasons. As a member of the 2014 class, Mayes’ action has been limited while in Coral Gables. From the moment Mayes arrived on campus it was known he needed to be developed, and through two years that is what is expected to have transpired. His development should be interesting to Miami fans, because in a year where many cornerbacks have only been in the program one season, Mayes comes in with 2 years of experience. Mayes is a lanky cornerback, so it will be interesting to see if he can separate himself from the pack at his position.
Overall Outlook on the Cornerbacks
In general, the cornerback position is a huge question for Mark Richt and his coaching staff in the spring. Other than Corn Elder the unit is unproven, and many players need to step up for the unit to be successful in 2016. If many of the young players are developed this unit can be successful, but if the freshman and sophomores don't make an impact, Miami will not be in good shape.