While the Canes nationally ranked defense is known for getting to the quarterback and blowing up plays in the backfield, the secondary also consistently held up their end of the bargain with quality pass defense. Trajan Bandy has quickly developed into one of the faces of the Miami program, thanks to plays like this:
Aside from Bandy, however, the identity of this group becomes unclear. The other starting cornerback in 2018 was Michael Jackson, who has since graduated and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Behind Jackson and Bandy were many young players getting their first meaningful snaps. Add in a couple of highly-touted recruits and you have a major position battle ahead of the Canes opening matchup with Florida.
The undersized dynamo of the Miami defense solidified his status as a key player in 2018 with an improved sophomore campaign. Bandy embodies what Canes fans hope for when it comes to homegrown talent that are willing to wear the orange and green with pride. He put up a solid line of 36 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and 8 passes defended. His five turnover chains led the team last season. Bandy is as close to a sure thing as you can get headed into 2019.
Al Blades Jr
The sophomore Canes legacy has gotten his feet wet with game snaps (he played in all 13 games last season), but his presence off the field has given more of an insight into what to expect from the Aquinas product in his second campaign. Blades received praise from coaches during his freshman season for his leadership skills and work ethic, and those qualities have continued throughout this offseason. A consensus 4-star recruit, Blades possesses all the raw talent needed to make the jump and seize the second starting spot opposite Trajan Bandy.
The Florida City native was a special teams regular as a freshman in 2018, but as a sophomore will be hoping to get more snaps as a part of the defense. The Canes don’t have a ton of depth at corner, and Ivey’s ideal size (6’1”, 194 lbs) should help him get some looks in 2019.
Nigel Bethel Jr
The Miami Northwestern product redshirted in 2018, as the coaching staff hoped a year with Miami’s strength program would have the corner better equipped to compete in 2019. At 6’0”, 170 lbs, Bethel is still on the skinnier side, but has decent length which should come in handy when disrupting pass catchers
The lone freshman of this group has nearly as good a chance to start at corner as anyone in this group not named Bandy. Williams was the crowning achievement of Manny Diaz’s first recruiting class, as the Miami coaching staff had to secure a late flip to pry him away from the nation’s top programs. The Alabama product could project to be a shut down corner with his combination of athleticism and instinct, so I wouldn’t expect him to redshirt in 2019.