After weeks of questioning whether the suddenly sparingly-used Zach McCloud could be redshirted this season, Manny Diaz announced Wednesday that McCloud will redshirt this year and return in 2020. This a reversal of Diaz’s previous position, in which he called the strongside linebacker a “necessity, not a luxury.” So far this season, McCloud has played just 21 defensive snaps in 3 games. He did not appear in Miami’s win over Central Michigan, after playing in the first three games.
Despite arriving as a freshman alongside Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney, McCloud has made an impact on defense less and less as Miami has begun using the Safety/Linebacker hybrid “Striker” position. This left Quarterman at MIKE and Pinckney at WILL with McCloud’s SAM position all but defunct. McCloud really struggled to find a role on defense this year in particular, being less athletic than his fellow Senior ‘backers.
Even with Miami’s severely thin linebacker depth, this is a good move for the Canes. Despite that thin depth, McCloud was playing very little. True freshman Sam Brooks has proven in a very short time that he can step in and be an effective role player to get Quarterman and Pinckney rest during drives. And although Diaz did not seem intent on doing this at first, from his words at the post-practice presser, it was McCloud himself who ultimately thought this was the best opportunity for him. This should allow McCloud to anchor a young linebacker corps next season, when both Quarterman and Pinckney will have graduated. His game experience will be invaluable to this young group in 2020.