The Miami Hurricanes had a nationally recognized defense in 2016 and linebacker Michael Pinckney stood out more times than not. Not only did he stand out, but Pinckney decided to have a stellar season and earned Freshman All-America recognition from ESPN. That’s right, FRESHMAN All-America.
Pinckney was among five starting true freshman on the Hurricanes defense, three of whom were starting linebackers. Pinckney was rated the lowest out of the three, but arguably had one of the biggest impacts on the team. He enrolled early in January 2016 and assumed the starting role as the weak-side linebacker. A bit undersized (6’1” 220 lbs.), the freshman started all 13 games for the Canes and finished the season with 61 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and one interception.
Out of the three freshman linebackers, Pinckney was probably the most vocal and confident of his teammates abilities. His talk backed up his play, as he recorded at least three tackles in all but one game. His best game came against FAU, where he recorded nine total tackles and 1.5 sacks in his second career collegiate game.
Pinckney has been absolutely exceptional this season with his play, attitude and work ethic, and will only get better moving forward. Although it was his freshman season, he did not play like a freshman nor did the team or coaches view him as one.
Pinckney, along with his fellow freshman starters, will be fun to watch for the next two seasons on this Hurricanes defense. If/when Miami comes back, just know that Michael Pinckney will play a part in it.
One last thing to note: Pinckney was ejected for a targeting call in the second half of the Russell Athletic Bowl vs. WVU, so his second-half ejection will carry over into next season and will miss the first half of the first game.