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Miami Hurricanes Football Spring Preview: Linebackers

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The Bermuda Triangle 2.0 enters their junior years

Miami v Georgia Tech Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Time really does fly by as the Bermuda Triangle 2.0, Miami’s trio of linebackers, are prepped to enter their junior year of football. The Miami Hurricanes were forced, due to suspensions and transfers, to start three freshman linebackers in 2016. The trio had their growing pains but also flashes of brilliance. Then in 2017, the trio all seemed to take a backslide into a sophomore slump. Shaquille Quarterman was once again the leader of the trio, but Pinckney and McCloud were often replaced by Darrion Owens. Owens transferred leaving the Bermuda Triangle as the main players in the linebacking corp.


The Starters

Shaquille Quarterman is a clearcut starter at middle linebacker for the Miami Hurricanes. Quarterman made second team All-ACC as a sophomore and has the Micheal Barrow type build at 6’1 and 240 pounds. Shaq has logged 167 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 6 sacks over his two years in starting duty. The Oak Leaf High School native is a former four-star prospect and has lived up to the expectations. Quarterman needs to keep progressing in order for Miami to make up for the losses at defensive tackle this off-season.

Michael Pinckney has started the majority of the games he’s played in over the past two seasons. Pinckney is a 6’1 and 228 pounder out of Raines High School in Jacksonville, FL. The former three-star prospect has logged 129 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and 6 sacks in two seasons of Will (Weakside) Linebacker duty. Pinckney is a hitter who can run in straight lines but at times looks stiff in the hips and hesitant in Manny Diaz’s defense.

Zach McCloud is the greatest enigma of the three. McCloud has the most raw ability. The former four-star prospect from Lake Worth, FL plays the SAM linebacker position or Strong Side Linebacker. He has been exposed at times as looking lost in the defensive scheme as he’s been asked to cover the slot receivers but maintain responsibilities in the run game when Miami flexes into a 4-2-5 look. McCloud is 6’2 and 230 pounds and has elite speed and agility. Having started the majority of his two years in Miami, he’s picked up 85 tackles with 8 tackles for loss and 2 sacks.


Capital One Orange Bowl - Miami v Wisconsin Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

The Next Man In

Darrion Owens was the next man in for Miami in 2017. Owens is now in Houston and Miami has to find a suitable replacement. That replacement will be hashed out this spring. The competition is between Charles Perry, Bradley Jennings Jr, Mike Smith and De’Andre Wilder.

Charles Perry should lead the pack as during his time in Coral Gables he has seen a lot of game action. Perry is a 6’1 230 pound inside linebacker from West Palm Beach, FL. Perry was injured late in 2017 but hopefully can compete in spring drills. Perry has mostly been a special teams player and back up over his three seasons of playing time.

De’Andre Wilder played in 12 of 13 games as a true freshman and looks to make an impact in 2018. Wilder, a Carol City High School alumnus, is 6’3 and 202 pounds. Wilder made 10 tackles as a freshman. He has elite speed and is a former four-star recruit.

Mike Smith has had a strange career for the ‘Canes. Smith is now listed as a linebacker and fullback. The rising senior has played in 31 games the past three seasons giving him a plethora of experience. Smith is a 6’1 and 236 pounder out of Miami-Northwestern. He’s more of an inside linebacker as like Perry.

Bradley Jennings Jr made his impact as a true freshman in 2017 on special teams. Jennings played in 12 of 13 games making 7 tackles.

On the outside looking in is Waynmon Steed. Steed redshirted in 2017 but looks to make an impact this spring. Steed is 5’11 and 223 pounds out of Miami Central High School. Steed is a former three-star prospect. Terry McCray is a redshirt senior that’s played sparingly since arriving in Coral Gables.


Summary

The Hurricanes’ coaching staff needs to recruit linebacker hard for 2019 as they didn’t sign anyone for 2018, and have played the majority of the live bodies as true freshman. Miami will need to prepare to replace the Bermuda Triangle trio as well as Perry and Smith.