Several weeks before the start of the 2018 season, pre-season All-American lists came out, and Miami fans were pleased to see junior linebacker Shaq Quarterman making appearances on those.
Since those days in mid-August, Quarterman has made good on the hype, and is playing like one of the best linebackers in the country.
Last Thursday against North Carolina was Quarterman’s best game yet of the season. The Orange Park native racked up five tackles, three TFLs and a career-high two sacks. One of those sacks came stripping UNC quarterback Nathan Elliott, which then Jonathan Garvin recovered and strolled in for the easy touchdown.
TURNOVER CHAIN!!! Strip sack by #Oakleaf HS (FL) alum & #Miami #Hurricanes LB Shaq Quarterman (@OgBoobie_Shaq) & recovery for a TD by DE Jonathan Garvin (@neogarvin) vs #UNC #UNCvsMIA pic.twitter.com/ecW8srBgj6— Sleeper Athletes (@SleeperAthletes) September 28, 2018
So far in 2018, Quarterman is poised to have the best season of his three-year UM career. 55 already has three sacks and 6.5 TFLs, which means he’s on pace for 15 sacks for the season, though don’t be depressed if he doesn't reach that number.
Miami will need Quarterman on Saturday against rival Florida State, though he suffered an ankle injury against North Carolina, coach Richt didn’t see it to be too serious.
Quarterman is part of the trio at the linebacker position, along with Zach McCloud and Michael Pinckney. All three have been starting together since they all came in as freshman in 2016.
Along with McCloud and Pinckney, Quarterman is helping carry on the tremendous legacy of linebackers at the U, which have included guys like Ray Lewis and Jessie Armstead in the past.
“The linebacker brotherhood at Miami is special. It inspires you to be like them and work to prove that you belong at the University of Miami."— GO ‘CANES! (@83_87_89_91_01) August 12, 2018
- Shaq Quarterman pic.twitter.com/eUHZ93jPR4
Though all three have helped form the resurgence of Miami’s defense and especially linebacker position, it looks as if Quarterman is the one getting the most notice.
Prior to the season, Mel Kiper Jr. had Quarterman ranked as his no. 2 inside linebacker for the 2019 NFL Draft. Kiper Jr. predicts that Quarterman will either be a late-first or early second-round draft pick.
Ever since Quarterman arrived in 2016 along with head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, both the Canes and their defense have improved.
2016 saw Miami to a 9-4 record, as well as improving on the defensive side of the ball in terms of total offense allowed. 2017 the Canes soared to 10-3, while ranking third in the country in turnovers and first in the nation for sacks per game.
Now in 2018, Quarterman and the rest of the Canes defense have been playing better than ever, reminding fans of defenses from the 80’s and early 2000’s.
Saturday at home against the Noles will be even a better opportunity for Quarterman and Miami to shut down the FSU offense.