Projected Depth Chart:
Rover: Jaquan Johnson / FS: Sheldrick Redwine
Rover: Robert Knowles / FS: Amari Carter
Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter
Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine look to be the two new starters at safety for Miami.
The Hurricanes will need both of these men to step into a big role following the departures of longtime safety pair Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter.
Johnson comes off a great year as a utility player in Miami’s defense. Coach Diaz often used Jaquan Johnson as the next man off the bench. Johnson also has astounding versatility and strength, filling in any spot apart from the line.
With 38 tackles Jaquan Johnson impressed as a player that chased the ball in Manny Diaz’s attacking defense, collecting 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and an interception that many will remember during the FSU game. Johnson seems like a great replacement at rover and has great drive and competitiveness, look for him to possibly have a breakout season.
At the other safety spot Sheldrick Redwine appears to be the favorite to start after an impressive spring. Redwine is switching from cornerback to safety and is getting a lot of coaching attention from the staff as a result. At the final spring scrimmage Redwine was also a valuable player, collecting 7 tackles on the first team defense. Jaquan Johnson has even said, “He’s doing good. He’s catching on quick and he’s a veteran, too. He was at cornerback so the defense has been coming real easy to him.” So Redwine appears to be adapting quickly to the safety spot he’ll be asked to fill.
It also can not go unmentioned that Johnson and Redwine formed a dominant duo in high school at Miami Killian, and the two have been friends since childhood and are roommates in college. Hopefully this translates to on-field chemistry, and allows for the two to adapt to their new larger roles within the team quicker.
The backup safeties look to be Amari Carter and Robert Knowles. Knowles played in all 13 games last season, but mostly as a special teams player, 2017 could be the first time Knowles is asked to play substantial snaps on the defensive side of the ball. Meanwhile Amari Carter comes as a 3 star recruit, who was highly touted for his knack for chasing the ball relentlessly, and making several bone-crunching hits.
Knowles has experience with the defense and will probably have a bigger impact at the start of the season than Carter, but it remains to be seen how well he will adapt to his larger role in the defense.
Carter will probably take more time to have an impact, even though he was an early enrollee. Carter has had the opportunity to take in a spring of practice, but he still has to learn and get acclimated to the speed of the college game.
Ultimately, by the end of the season this should be a strong duo to back up Redwine and Johnson, and as each of them learn how to play with each other in the best way possible the group will undoubtedly improve.
As A Whole
Miami’s safeties will start out inexperienced and fresh to their roles, but I feel that Johnson and Redwine will quickly adapt to being relied upon in such a big way, especially because both were important players for the Canes last season.
The backups will probably take a little bit longer to get to a high level of play. Especially because both of them have not been asked to play such a crucial role in college. We may even see more of a backup by committee role with the safeties, with Romeo Finley also looking to make a big impact at the back end.
In the end look for the safeties from Miami to improve over the course of the season, and to be greatly helped by the dominant Miami front seven in the early going.