The Miami Hurricanes will head into spring football having graduated two of the top three cornerbacks from Coach Mike Rumph’s meeting room in 2018. Jhavontae Dean and Michael Jackson are out, but star in the making Trajan Bandy returns. Bandy played well as a nickel coverage guy in 2017 as a true freshman and continued his upward trajectory in 2018 as a true outside cornerback.
Dean logged 17 tackles with three interceptions and a pass defensed while Jackson came away with 42 tackles and six passes defensed and departs with four career interceptions. Losing a starter in Jackson and depth in Dean can hurt a position group but Rumph has recruited well and coached even better. After losing Malek Young to a career ending injury the ‘Canes bounced back with Bandy moving outside and Dean getting into the rotation. Rumph made Dean serviceable and Bandy into a star.
Trajan Bandy returns with three interceptions, eight passes defensed (team high), 4.5 tackles for loss, and 36 tackles in 2018 alone. He’ll likely be joined at cornerback by Al Blades. Blades made 13 tackles as a true freshman a year ago and is expected to be a future All-ACC player and a special teams ace. If Blades, the former four-star, doesn’t work out, DJ Ivey might.
Ivey played in 11 games in 2018, mostly in the kicking game. Ivey was listed as a three-star per most services heading into his time in Coral Gables but is expected to battle Blades for the starting role opposite of Bandy.
A few sleeper picks for cornerback playing time are Nigel Bethel, Gilbert Frierson, and four-star incoming freshmen Te’Cory Couch and Christian Williams. Bethel was a practice squad player in 2018. Frierson is a former four-star recruit who recently announced that he was moving to STRIKER but maybe he could see spot duty at CB in 2019 (unlikely, but possible). The undersized Couch has the raw ability to make an impact, like Bandy was able to, right away. Williams is a big corner at 6’1” 184lbs and flipped on Signing Day to Miami from Alabama, whom he had been committed to for nearly a year, and away from favorites LSU. But, even with Bethel, Couch, Williams, and to a lesser extent Frierson, it’s a deep and talented of young faces that will need to step up in a hurry for Miami in 2019.
Miami has the solidified star power in Trajan Bandy and the up and coming raw talent in Blades, Ivey, Bethel, Frierson, Couch, and Williams that show the depth of South Florida cornerback talent (all but Williams are SoFLA natives). Rumph has missed on the major blue chippers like Asante Samuel and Tyrique Stevenson but has landed quality four-star talent at the position, including flipping Williams away from Alabama and LSU.
Hopefully cornerback play can alleviate breaking in new safeties with the losses of Sheldrick Redwine and Jaquan Johnson to graduation. The ‘Canes will need the cornerbacks to be able to play on an island while the safeties get acclimated to serious playing time.