Heading into spring practice, the Hurricanes knew that depth at the linebacker position could potentially be a problem. Yes, Miami has the senior trio with Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud, but after that group, the numbers are scarce.
The situation didn’t improve when Bradley Jennings Jr. and Waynmon Steed both suffered injuries during the spring. To add insult to the problem, the Canes two LB recruits from the 2019 class, Avery Huff and Sam Brooks won’t be arriving on campus until summer.
So, it was decision time for Manny Diaz and the staff as Miami prepared for their spring game. Their solution? Enter Patrick Joyner Jr., the linebacker.
Joyner came to UM as a four-star recruit in the 2018 class, but was recruited as a defensive-end. Playing in just four games last season, Joyner enters 2019 as a redshirt freshman.
Then during the last week of spring practice, coach Diaz and defensive coordinator Blake Baker started to give him reps at the linebacker position, working behind Quarterman and Pinckney. “With Joyner, we recruited him to do both. That was one of the things that he really liked about his opportunity to come here to Miami,” coach Diaz said to reporters in practice last week.
Fast-forward to Miami’s spring game in Orlando on Saturday, and Joyner was getting second-team reps at LB. Joyner surprised everyone, had a great day, and ended up leading Miami with four tackles.
Patrick Joyner closes the hole on DJ pic.twitter.com/j4Ic095mJP— DSFB (@gregminnick_) April 20, 2019
Joyner’s transition to linebacker has been a blessing to say the least for the Hurricanes. After Quarterman, Pinckney and McCloud leave after 2019, Miami will be without any seniors at the position. Several days after the scrimmage, Joyner announced that he had officially made the move to linebacker.
Officially a Linebacker— Patrick Joyner Jr. (@JoynerPatrick) April 24, 2019
Now this isn’t to say that the Miami coaches still won’t use him at defensive end occasionally for his pass-rushing skills. He was recruited because of his dual-threat abilities, and I believe that he’ll have time in both roles.
Patrick Joyner eating at LB.— miami aficionado (@MiamiJunkie) April 20, 2019
Leave him there!
One thing is for sure though, the Hurricanes have found their new linebacker.