The defensive tackle position could be the most interesting competition outside of quarterback in the spring of 2018. Miami needs to replace RJ McIntosh, Kendrick Norton and Anthony Moten. The trio made 93 tackles, 20 TFL and 4.5 sacks over the season. Being able to stop the run game will be vital for Miami as they play run-first schools like LSU, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College and Virginia Tech on the 2018 slate.
Stopping Miami will be Miami’s first challenge as the ‘Canes offensive and defensive lines face off against each other every day starting on March 20th and culminating with the spring game on April 14th.
Miami’s starting duo will be Gerald Willis III and Patrick Bethel. Willis, a 6’2 280 pounder returns from a year sabbatical and while he’s been troubled off the field he is a former four-star defensive tackle that originally signed with Florida before transferring to Miami. In 2016, Willis had 19 tackles 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks and will fill in nicely for the ‘Canes to replace McIntosh. Pat Bethel put together a nice freshman season with 18 tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack. Bethel has filled out into a defensive tackle body at 6’3 and 270 pounds.
The Rotational Guys
Moten’s contribution will be replaced by John Ford, graduate transfer Tito Odenigbo, and Nesta Silvera. Ford is a long athlete at 6’5 and 270 pounds. Ford had an uneventful freshman season only logging one tackle but he got seven games of experience, that N’Kosi Perry could’ve used (at me, please). Odenigbo picked up 28 tackles and 3 tackles for loss. He’s 6’3 and 310 pounds and will have to replace the bigger bodied Norton on the inside.
Nesta Silvera is going to be relied upon as a true freshman to make an impact. Silvera is a four-star tackle out of American Heritage High School. Silvera is 6’2 and 308 pounds which gives him college-ready size but it often takes two years to be physically powerful enough to make a huge impact in college football.
Jordan Miller, the three-star defensive tackle signee from Sandalwood High in Jacksonville, will redshirt in 2018. Miller is 6’4 and 330 pounds but needs to refine his body and technique over a season of losing baby fat and adding muscle.
If the Hurricanes’ number one defense can’t stop Miami’s number two offense, especially with Miami’s back up line, it’s going to be a long season in 2018. Miami is replacing defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski with former Falcons assistant defensive line coach Jess Simpson. Simpson has known Coach Richt for decades back when Simpson was a legendary high school head football coach in Georgia.