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Miami Hurricanes Football 2016 Position Preview: The Defensive Tackles

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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 could see more improvement than anywhere else in 2016: interior defensive line.

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Where were you when it happened??

Where could you be found?

Were you in the OB......?

Or watching from out of town?

From South Bend to Tallahassee, UM D Tackles changed forever....

Now we want a return to domination, from.....

"Back in the Day."

Megadeth parity aside, you get the drift.

It's been a long, long time since Hurricanes defensive tackles were arguably the most feared in the country game in and game out.

'Canes fans long for the days when Cortez Kennedy, Warren Sapp, and Jerome Brown among others left a path of destruction in opposing back fields.

The good news is,  this group will no longer be asked to read, react, and play the round hole/square peg 2 gap 3-4 system of the previous regime.

Under new DC Manny Diaz, the entire defense promises to be in attack mode.

And there are more reasons than that to be excited.

Defensive Line Coach Craig Kuligowski comes over from Mizzou, where he helped develop interior studs like Sheldon Richardson and Dominique Hamilton,

In fact, in 15 years with the Tigers, "Coach Kool"  helped produce 24 all conference players and 4 first round draft picks among D lineman he has coached.

He also likes to teach his group to attack.

Additionally, Diaz and Kuligowski inherit a group that while not deep, has plenty of talent.

It may take a while for things to completely click, but the potential for this group to develop in a scheme much better suited for DT success and under coaches with proven tack records, is one of the more exciting story lines on the entire team heading into 2016.

Let's take a closer look at the players themselves.

Projected DT Depth Chart:

DT1 - Gerald Willis, Kendrick Norton, Courtel Jenkins

DT2 - R.J. McIntosh, Anthony Moten, Ryan Fines, Tyreic Martin

Likely Starters:  McIntosh, Willis

Most potential: Willis

Best Run Stuffer: Jenkins

Best Pass Rusher: Willis/Norton

Wildcard: McIntosh

(Check out Coach Kool back in spring practice talking about the D Line as a whole, theme being lots of players promise to see time)

The obvious here is that the 'Canes absolutely need Willis to be a stud.

The UF transfer is a former 5 star recruit with massive potential.

But will it lead to instant on the field production?

It better.

McIntosh brings more athleticism to the position as a speedy 6'4 280 pound DE convert.

Can he hold his ground though?

He'll have to.

It will be interesting to see how holdovers Jenkins, Norton, and Moten adjust after being primarily gap stuffers under Al Golden/Mark D'Onofrio.

Norton in particular flashed terrific burst at times last season as a true freshman.

I love his potential.

Jenkins and Moten are both 300+ pounders, who will need to adjust the most (and likely trim down) for the new scheme.

Fines is a high motor player, who is completely unproven at this point, but may be needed if the staff wants to play 6 players (it looks like they will) at this position.

Freshman to be Tyreic Martin is a strong candidate to redshirt.

As is a common theme among nearly every position on the UM roster, the front line talent is impressive but the depth is worrisome.

But the explosiveness of Willis and Norton, along with the athleticism of McIntosh, does give the staff some nice pieces to work with.


Summary:

It's going to be a lot more fun watching these guys than it's been in a long, long time.

Willis should grow into a star.

McIntosh is going to at least be interesting.

And Norton might be the sleeper of the group.

An imminent return to the glorious past where All-Americans like Sapp and Vince Wilfork were unblockable, may be a lot to ask, at least at first.

But with Coach Kool developing the DT's and the group as a whole no longer being handcuffed by scheme, tangible if not drastic improvement should definitely be expected.