A positional unit that doesn't have much depth, we will be looking over the cornerbacks as a whole and how they rank on this roster. They’ll put in the fire multiple times each game, and must show promise in order to have a successful season.
With fall camp underway, we will get a better understanding on how the newcomers transition to the next level, and how veterans lead and step into the starting role. Beyond Trajan Bandy, this group will shuffle a lot based on daily performances.
The only returning starter who has made a name for himself in this program. Bandy is the most well known player in our secondary, and embraces competition and physicality.
He has always been trusted by coaches to do the right thing on and off the field. He simply puts his head down and works. In coverage, he does a fantastic job locating the ball and making a play on it, and is able to high point the ball against taller receivers. He also isn't afraid to lower his shoulder and hit someone. When Bandy was ejected early in the LSU game, we lost one of our best defenders, and that was when things got out of hand. This year I fully expect big things out of Trajan.
In his first two years at Miami he has totaled 61 total tackles, 6 TFL, 14 PBU, 4 Int, and 1 notorious touchdown. He has locked down his position during his time and has made plenty of highlights. This summer, Bandy was named to the preseason ACC Football 1st team All-Conference Team due to his stellar play on the field. He will look to impress this year as he will play on the boundary and slot, creating more plays to boost his stock for the NFL Draft.
The player who is expected to start opposite side of Bandy in this defense, Ivey possesses incredible size at 6-1 195 lbs. In his first year at Miami, he was behind Michael Jackson, who has similar play style at the corner position. He has shown promise and flashes of potential in the offseason through practice and growth as a player. The Hurricanes knew what they were getting with Ivey when recruiting him, a long and fast corner who can matchup well against boundary receivers, especially on jump balls.
If Ivey keeps up the work off the field, he will only increase his strength and stamina to keep up with top WRs on the field. Ivey could have a breakout year and record multiple interceptions if opposing QBs are trying to avoid Bandy. Personally, I do believe Ivey is set for a huge year as he could be an Artie Burns 2.0 with their similar size and play style.
Al Blades Jr.
Al Blades Jr., the legacy himself, is also in a position this year to represent everything that comes with this name and number. Coming in from St. Thomas Aquinas, he always had big shoes to fill, and with his work ethic these goals are more than attainable. Al is a player who simply puts in the work to take care of his body and loves to compete. For example, I had the pleasure of meeting him before his time in Miami during a dodgeball match, and he did everything he could to get the win, even if it meant showing no mercy on people who weren't nearly as athletically gifted as he was, like me.
He is truly an athletic freak who has shown his abilities in the weight room this offseason, and we were able to see some of that in the recent televised show, Gymratts. In the third offseason practice, to give you an idea of how fast he is, he was the first to reach 20 mph, which had S&C Jay Feeley doing pushups. He started fall camp as the number 2 corner, which shouldn't be that surprising since he was a key contributor on special teams last year, helping him get used to game speed at the college level.
Out of the newcomers, Couch has done an incredible job making a name for himself, as he has stepped up against the receivers and hasn’t let his frame dictate the outcome. Although he is undersized, he still shows he is not afraid to jam you at the line and stay at your hip throughout the route. He is putting himself in a position to see the field earlier than expected if he is able to maintain this performance and showing the “dog” mentality he has had throughout his career.
If he continues to gain weight and muscle, the 5-10 165 lbs corner can have a very bright future at Miami. In high school, he was a well known recruit who had plenty of offers. He could be our next Trajan Bandy, and I mean that will all seriousness. They are both overlooked corners coming into Miami due to their size, but both are physical players who go the extra mile to make a play on the ball.
In one of Couch’s instagram posts, Deion Sanders even emphasized the type of player this freshman is. Couch has been receiving much praise from coaches, especially DC Blake Baker, who said, “He’s really, really twitchy, really athletic. He’s got great feet and he’s fearless.” “He can run and guys that can run like that are confident in playing press-man.”
The former Alabama commit is someone who was really a huge pickup for Mike Rumph and the UM staff. Williams comes into Miami with pretty good size and possess great athleticism. In high school, he was used on all three sides of the ball, and never failed to make some impressive plays with the ball in his hands. At corner, he lined up at the slot and outside and has impressive knowledge to read the play.
He is currently listed at 6-1 189 lbs, and if he continues to gain muscle, he’ll have plenty of playing time this upcoming year. Christian being an early enrolle has definitely helped with his move to Miami. I’m excited to see Williams get reps and make plays for this secondary throughout the season.
Nigel Bethel Jr.
The speedster sophomore from Miami Northwestern High School, had an eye opening play this offseason when we returned a kickoff to the end zone in one of the scrimmages. Last year, he didn't get playing time as he was deep down the roster. This season, that could all change if he makes the strides needed to be a contributor to this unit.
At 6-0 175 lbs, he must add muscle and improve his skills at covering. Since he is gifted with great speed, he can rely on that at times in coverage, but must develop better technique to see the field on a consistent basis. Truly would love to see him make improvements, and would not be surprised if he is used on kick returns this upcoming season.
The starters will rotate between Bandy, Ivey, and Blades. When in nickel packages, I fully expect Bandy to automatically take that spot, and have Blades and Ivey take control of the boundaries. Going deeper into the rotation, I see Te’Cory being a backup in the slot, and Williams be placed on the outside.
After all, this group is going to be a huge X factor for Miami's success on defense. I believe coach Feeley and coach Rumph will do what is necessary to help this unit become a reliable unit for the Canes. Still, even with a lack of depth at the college level, this group does feature some great potential for the next couple of years at Miami.