DT RJ McIntosh | Junior | 6’4 291 Lbs.
McIntosh was recruited to Miami in the 2015 class as a jumbo defensive end out of Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale, FL by D-Line coach Jethro Franklin on Al Golden’s staff. He was regarded as a middling defensive end prospect, being ranked #784 nationally, #43 at strongside end, and #95 in the state of Florida by the 247 Composite. As a result, McIntosh mainly had offers from non-Power 5 teams apart from Miami, UF, and Louisville.
Franklin saw what others couldn’t, though. From the beginning of McIntosh’s recruitment, Franklin projected McIntosh would grow into a tackle and move inside, where his athleticism and quickness would become a plus attribute against slower offensive guard types. He offered McIntosh early in the 2015 cycle, back in September of 2013, which was McIntosh’s first offer.
With McIntosh’s childhood affinity for Miami growing up in South Florida and along with knowing they were his first offer, Miami was the early leader in his recruitment and they never looked back. After checking out UF briefly, McIntosh committed to Miami in July of 2014 and the Canes were able to hang on despite late pushes by Clemson and Tennessee.
At Miami So Far
McIntosh began his Cane career at 275 pounds, so he started his freshman season at end. However, he was buried on the depth chart behind more established vets like Chad Thomas, Ufomba Kamalu, Al-quadin Muhammad, and Tyriq McCord. McIntosh was relegated to little more than a depth option that got time in blowouts, playing 5 games and recording 4 tackles, 1 TFL, and 0.5 sacks.
Like Franklin predicted, McIntosh kept growing. By his sophomore season, he was 290 pounds, and the newly hired Mark Richt, along with D-Line coach Craig Kuligowski, saw more potential in McIntosh at tackle; he was moved inside in time for spring practice, where there was much less established depth. New defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s defense perfectly suited McIntosh and almost immediately, McIntosh was a revelation at defensive tackle and took hold of a starting job. He made all 13 starts at DT for the Hurricanes, and proved to be quite a tandem next to fellow DT Kendrick Norton. McIntosh finished the 2016 season with 42 tackles, 8.5 TFL, and 2 sacks.
2017 and Beyond
After his breakout 2016, McIntosh has set himself up for an even bigger 2017. McIntosh has been part of a resurgence on the Miami D-Line that has been on death’s doorstep for the better part of Al Golden’s 5 year tenure. Members of the media constantly argue back and forth about who is better at the position between him and Norton (a very good thing for UM). McIntosh has even been discussed in the 2018 NFL Draft conversation already and will have quite a decision on his hands on whether to leave early if he is able to top his impressive 2016 season.
As a player, McIntosh fits snugly with what Manny Diaz likes to do on defense: attack. While Norton takes on double teams and works to collapse the pocket, McIntosh is a penetrating DT that shoots gaps in the O-Line. His hands and athleticism as a quicker DT allow him to rapidly beat his man into the opponent’s backfield to disrupt plays.
Going into his junior year, McIntosh is now looked to as a leader on the defense. Although Miami is deep at DT, McIntosh has the appearance of a star in the making and will keep his starting position until he decides to vacate it. For his part, McIntosh sees big things from the defense in 2017 due to the returning depth.
“I think the defense is a big part of it,” McIntosh said during spring. “We have a lot of players coming back... Everybody is coming back. I think we are a big part of this team, so we have to become better. There’s a lot of things we got to work on and I think we are getting better at it.”
McIntosh certainly backed up his talk. In Miami’s final spring scrimmage, he led a ferocious defensive line with 2 sacks. Those are the types of performances the coaches expect from McIntosh and he will have to deliver on that promise for Miami to reach its goal of an ACC Championship. There’s no reason he can’t surpass his sophomore season numbers and 10+ TFL along with 5+ sacks are certainly within reach in 2017.