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Miami Hurricanes 2018 Position Preview: Defensive Tackles

Nesta and Gerald Set to Start at DT for Miami

NCAA Football: Miami at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NY Canes Guy recently wrote about building the perfect Canes DT. You can read it here. There isn’t a Warren Sapp on the current roster that we know about just yet. Needless to say, NY Canes Guy wrote an excellent piece, and if any of the current DTs on the roster fill even one of listed attributes, like Jerome Brown’s swagger, everyone will be happy.

After losing Kendrick Norton and RJ Mcintosh to the draft, Miami will be breaking in new starters at defensive tackle. You’d think there would be a drop off in production at this position because a lot has been said about Miami not recruiting DT hard enough last year. Five different Hurricanes could take snaps at defensive tackle in 2018. They’ll need a true freshman to play meaningful snaps, back ups to be back ups, and star potential to live up to its billing.

Shoe-In Starter (Gerald Willis)

Willis is set to start at one defensive tackle position. He’s a Florida transfer and former five star recruit, and sat out last year due to personal reasons. During Spring practice, numerous writers penned praises for Willis. Miami Herald’s Susan Miller Degnan wrote about Willis’ renewed determination to play well his red shirt senior year. In a dream scenario, Willis becomes a disruptive force between the tackles and stays healthy all year. If he can maintain focus an entire year and achieve All-Conference level stats, Miami will be in a good spot. Who will assume the other DT position is the better story line heading into fall camp.

Freshmen (Nesta Silvera and Jordan Miller)

Nesta arrives to campus as a consensus four star recruit. He played on a loaded American Heritage High School team that produced a couple five star cornerbacks who need not be mentioned here. Nesta’s strengths are his motor, intensity, and swag. In this YouTube video, he’s an absolute beast. He has complete confidence in his abilities and he lets everyone know about it. That’s why I think Nesta will play a decent amount of snaps in 2018. He’s too good to redshirt. On the other hand, I view Jordan Miller as a developmental prospect. Jordan’s a beast at a listed 6’4 330 pounds. I do, however, view Jordan as a redshirt candidate.

Contenders (Tito Odenigbo (transfer), Tyreic Martin, Pat Bethel, Jonathan Ford)

The other DT slot could be filled by perhaps all four of these players. Tito is a transfer from Illinois. Our own Matt Washington covered this breaking news back in January. He was a three-star recruit out of high school and accumulated barely 30 tackles in nearly four years at Illinois. Then there’s Tyreic who’s really raw and young. He signed with Miami to play for Coach Kool who just left for Alabama. I don’t see Tyreic playing a whole lot in 2018. The person likely to play alongside Gerald Willis is either Nesta as a true freshman or a combination of Bethel and Ford. Bethel is a former four star recruit while sites ranked Ford as a consensus 3 star recruit. Both haven’t played very much in their Miami careers.


When fans lament the depth of DT on the Canes, they worry about the spot opposite of Gerald Willis. They may even worry about Gerald himself, given his less than stellar history. Though in an ideal setting in which everyone stays healthy and plays their collective backsides off, Miami is in a decent position heading into fall camp with what’s available. My guess is that Nesta brings it from the first game onward. Gerald will start the whole season. Bethel and Ford will back those guys up. There’s also the option of playing someone like Demetrius Jackson at one of the tackle spots.