Silvera is turning heads in spring camp — seeming like a more-than-capable replacement for Gerald Willis III.
‘Replacing’ Willis is no simple task though — therefore, no one is expecting a carbon-copy at this point. Matching his production in 2018 would be even more challenging, as Willis had an ACC-best 41 stops amongst interior defenders (PFF Draft), also amounting 18 tackles for loss. Needless to say, Gerald Willis III was a beast in 2018, and his departure seems to have left the biggest hole in Miami’s defense.
No ACC interior defender garnered more stops than Gerald Willis III this season. pic.twitter.com/F3arzMgObB— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 23, 2019
While Miami’s defensive line still contains impactful players such as Jonathan Garvin and Scott Patchan, it’s missing a bruising, dominant force to lineup in the middle alongside Pat Bethel. This opening gives Silvera the perfect opportunity to outshine the competition in position battles.
That’s not to say that Silvera isn’t the only option when it comes to defensive tackle, however, as Silvera will have to beat-out junior Jon Ford and graduate transfer Chigozie Nnoruka for starting reps — both of them being ample options. Ford has also had a successful spring camp, receiving praise from defensive coordinator Blake Baker.
“Probably the biggest pleasant surprise early on has been Jon Ford,” Baker told reporters. “He hasn’t played a ton of football around here — but if he puts it together and is consistent every day, he can be as good as he wants to be. He’s a load inside. He’s powerful. He’s got length.”
DC Blake Baker names the biggest surprise through five spring practices pic.twitter.com/wCawx9LNA9— Christopher Stock (@InsideTheU) March 28, 2019
It’s pleasing to know that the drop-off in talent between first and second string won’t be vast, as the Hurricanes have built solid depth at almost every position this offseason. Silvera didn’t see the field much in 2018, but his improvement has been noted and built upon, similar to his peers. Ultimately, whether it be Silvera, Ford, or Nnoruka, Miami’s defensive line is reloaded for 2019 and should wreak havoc like its predecessor.