The Hurricanes have explored a couple of avenues to find a running mate for top corner Trajan Bandy. There was the pursuit of graduate transfers and the addition of some heralded freshmen. However, the ideal solution to ease concerns will be developed within.
That’s where DJ Ivey comes in. A competitor from the Hurricanes’ backyard, the cornerback is one of a few candidates vying to bookend CB Trajan Bandy as a starter. Ivey is more than capable of stepping into a feature role along Miami’s defense in 2019 after spending the majority of his freshman year working on special teams. Because if there’s one quality about DJ Ivey that you need to know about, it’s his relentless work ethic.
An athlete from his days in Pop Warner, Ivey spent time playing running back, safety and wide receiver. It wasn’t until tryouts in his first year at South Dade High School that DJ would find his natural position at cornerback. Since then, Ivey hasn’t looked back. Evolving into a four-star prospect with offers from across the country, Ivey gained notoriety as a Buccaneer. Always working on the agility ladder, emphasizing his footwork, the young corner is as much a student of the game as he is a hard worker.
With his prototypical size as a six-foot corner with good speed, Ivey had offers from about every major college football program. After committing to the Hurricanes in 2016, Ivey represented the Hurricanes every chance he got before enrolling in 2017.
The Canes were led by veterans Michael Jackson Sr. and Trajan Bandy at CB, leaving Ivey to spend his freshman year fighting to learn the defense, as well as earn the trust of the coaches and teammates and a spot on the depth chart. The Homestead, Florida, native found himself jockeying for position on the depth chart with fellow freshman Al Blades Jr, good friend Gilbert Frierson — who moved to safety before transitioning to striker — and senior Jhavonte Dean.
Ivey didn’t start a game in the 2018 season, he did receive some invaluable reps throughout the year to aid his development. In the 11 games he played, Ivey picked up three tackles. With a season of experience in hand, the lengthy corner will have more freedom in 2019 than he did as a frosh. Since Manny Diaz got promoted to head coach, he’s going to have less of a hands-on approach on defense as he oversees the entire team. In light of that, the philosophy that he has installed on defense still need to be followed. For the cornerbacks that means a balanced attack of playing well against both the run and pass.
Being great in coverage is the name of the game, but you have to be aggressive in your play against the run. Entering his second year, Ivey admitted that cornerback coach Mike Rumph emphasized that he improved his tackling along with his ability to set the edge as a defender. Miami’s outside corners have to display an ability to shed the block, providing containment on outside runs. The emphasis is not simply on being lights out in coverage, but a reliable defender in run defense matters.
What to Expect in 2019
With long legs and a good wingspan, the former South Dade Buccaneer manages to close ground on receivers in an instant, playing with good leverage. That ability to close the distance between the ball and the intended receiver is astounding. It’s one of the reasons why I believe that he can be an All-ACC contender in the near future. Focusing on improving his jam-setting technique, the corner will be a menace for opponents in seasons to come. It’s that potential that spurred CMD to assert that Ivey was the second best UM CB this spring behind Trajan Bandy.
The development of DJ Ivey. One yr apart: pic.twitter.com/QKI0V7YJ8G— The Don ® (@doncmleon) June 23, 2019
There’s no reason why Ivey can’t be that player for the Hurricanes. Focused on the job at hand, Ivey stated that “Coming into spring football, I just want to get the playbook down and compete.” By most reports, he’s on pace to accomplish that task. An athlete who has ideal length at the position, excellent recovery speed and the instincts to make a play on the ball, DJ Ivey needs continue his elevation on the Hurricanes’ defense moving forward. The comparisons to former Hurricanes such as Artie Burns and Antrel Rolle have followed him more than Drake follows champions of any sport.
The competition for the starting corner spot opposite Trajan Bandy remains up for grabs. The graduations of Michael Jackson Sr and Jhavonte Dean have left the door open for new blood to rush through the veins of the Canes’ defense. A youthful injection in the secondary is a scenario that Miami will need to get used to in 2019. With those few changes and a firm grasp on the playbook, DJ Ivey will be well on his way to being a ‘Monster in the Making.’
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!