When Miami’s lackluster 2016 recruiting class was all settled, there was a few points of optimism. WR Sam Bruce looked like the most dynamic weapon of the class, QB Jack Allison seemed to be the type of pocket passer that Mark Richt could groom, and Ahmmon Richards was a game-breaking deep threat. 4 seasons later, none of that came to fruition. But the one lasting positive, team-changing force from that class has been the three linebackers from it. And the leader of that group, from the very first day on campus, has been Shaquille Quarterman.
Zach McCloud and Michael Pinckney joined a Miami team with a new defensive coordinator who was hoping to return the defense to it’s glory days in an attacking 4-3 scheme. But it was Quarterman who was the biggest name, the most stars attached to it and the biggest hype. He lived up to it immediately, entrenching himself as a starter as a true freshman, alongside his other two frosh ‘backers. In his first year, Quarterman tallied 84 total tackles, 10 for loss, 3.5 sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Quarterman continued to improve next to his teammates from the ‘16 class, going for 83 tackles, 7 for loss, and 2.5 sacks in 2017. He also accounted for 5 pass deflections. 2018 was perhaps his best season to date, looking as comfortable as ever leading the defense. Last year, the Oakleaf High product tallied 82 tackles, 14 for loss, 5 sacks, and an interception. In his three years of play, Quarterman has been the most consistent and fundamentally sound of the three linebackers who were recruited alongside him.
Quarterman easily could’ve jumped to the NFL last season and been picked in the first 3 rounds - but he decided to run it back with the entire squad for one last chance at a great season. Manny Diaz returning from his very short stay at Temple certainly helped Quarterman make his mind up and could push the senior to a first round pick as opposed to a second or third rounder. Quarterman is a smart, heady player with good speed and consistent tackling ability. He can continue to improve as a pass defender but his run stuff skills are among the best in the nation.
A lot is changing on the Miami defensive; no Gerald Willis, Joe Jackson, and a big shift in the secondary. But this group of experienced, talented linebackers will hold down the fort in the middle of the D. And Quarterman will be the guy getting everyone lined up and relaying play calls. He should continue to be great; 85 tackles, 15 for loss, and 3-5 sacks should be a perfect season to end his incredible Miami career.