If you’ve already read my article on the 2018 Canes’ offensive MVP, you know where this is going. For those of you who haven’t, MVP in this article means most important player. Or, who could Miami least afford to lose, due to injury, suspension or something unforeseen, for the 2018 season. While the offense had a few guys who were interesting options, they don’t quite standout like those on defense this year. Miami has one of the most talented defenses in the nation this season – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. So losing who among the 11 starters would be the biggest blow?
Gerald Willis, DT
Willis still needs to prove that he can dominate the best players in the nation similarly to how he torched scout teams last season and this spring. But he is clearly the closest thing to a proven commodity that Miami has at defensive tackle this season. He’s a solid run stuffer, an athletic upfield penetrator and a damn good pass rusher from the middle of the defensive line. If Willis goes down, Miami could be starting two guys in the middle of their defense who have little to no starting experience. And that may very well spell doom for the hopes of having an elite rushing defense in 2018.
Shaq Quarterman, LB
One of the two big leaders that Miami has on defense this season, the junior Linebacker is looking to make 2018 his best yet as a jump to the NFL, and a first round pick, seems likely in his future. Quarterman is the quarterback of the defense and has done nothing but earn the confidence and trust of DC Manny Diaz since arriving on campus. Without Quarterman, the entire defense could feel the ripples of having someone other than him relay the plays and assignments.
Michael Jackson, CB
Miami has some depth concerns at positions like DT and CB, which helps to land last year’s breakout star Michael Jackson on this list. Jackson will be Miami’s premier corner and should be expected to shut down his side of the field week after week. Not only did he play solid coverage but he proved his playmaking, ball-hawking ability last season as well, grabbing four interceptions. Behind him is Jhavonte Dean and Trajan Bandy. And then? Some young guys who haven’t proven much.
Jaquan Johnson, S
Jaquan Johnson is the heart and soul of Miami’s defense. It’s as simple as that. Quarterman may be the playcaller and stereotype of what a middle linebacker should be, but it’s “The Franchise” who leads the defense onto the field. Last season his play backed up the nickname as he was always there to make the critical play when Miami needed it most. Miami has some solid players behind Johnson and safety isn’t a highly-publicized position like corner or middle linebacker but Johnson’s presence on the field might be the most important of all.
Who is the 2018 defensive MVP?
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