Miami should have one of the best defenses in college football in 2020, but there are a few players who will have to answer questions.
Nesta Jade Silvera looks the part, talks the part, but now must live up to the part of a big time Defensive Tackle recruit who is now three years into his college football career, but has yet to have the impact many expected. In Manny Diaz’s and now Blake Baker’s defense, DT’s have the green light to live in the backfield and be disruptive, so the time is now for Silvera to live up to the massive potential that he’s had for 2 seasons. Silvera will have the luxury of being surrounded by DE’s who will get all the attention and potential double teams, so Nesta should have room to operate and get after the QB.
Coming out of American Heritage HS, Silvera was a consensus 4 star recruit by all the services and was the number 50th overall prospect by ESPN. Nesta helped American Heritage win a couple of state championships, and chose Miami over national powers Alabama, UGA, Auburn, FSU and many others. In 2017 he wrapped up his High School career with a 12 sack season to go along with 25 tackles for loss.
His freshman year he arrived at Miami and was given the jersey number 1, which for a defensive lineman automatically puts a bullseye on your chest. He got his first game action against Savannah St where he had a punt block to go along with 5 total tackles. Silvera would see action in 6 additional games including a start in the Pinstripe Bowl against Wisconsin where he played well at times, but looked like a freshman at other times. On the season he finished with 13 total tackles including 1.5 for loss. With Gerald Willis IV being the star on that team, Silvera didn’t get a ton of opportunities, but generally played well as a true freshman.
In 2019 Nesta was expected to take a big leap and become the star of the interior defensive line. Unfortunately a preseason foot injury required surgery and put him out of action the first few games. Silvera made his debut in the Virginia Tech game where he recorded his 1st tackle of the season. Some would say Nesta saved his best career game for Florida St, but that is exactly what happened. He recorded his 1st career sack to go along with 6 tackles in a dominating 27-10 Miami victory. On the year he finished with 19 tackles, 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery. One will always wonder how much more effective he would’ve been if not for the preseason injury.
Going into 2020, as a junior, a ton is expected from Nesta as the most talented interior lineman on the Canes roster. Gregory Rousseau, Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche will get all of the preseason accolades, but the play of the DT’s could dictate how good Miami is on defense. This will give ample opportunity for Silvera to operate in the 3 technique and impose his will on the opposition. Simply look at the tape against Florida St last year to see his amazing potential. Silvera has a great 1st step, and a mean streak that can’t be taught. This needs to be harvested into consistent effort, and production. Gerald Willis IV, RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton have all flourished in this defense, so there is no reason for Silvera to struggle.
Sometimes it takes others around you to thrive for that light to go on. Rousseau had 15.5 sacks, but will be the person who offensive coordinators lose sleep about at night, but Silvera has every bit the talent of the others on the line, now just needs it all to come together. While Nesta should put pressure on himself to have a monster year, he will not be the one that everyone looks at for big sack statistics. With a new set of linebackers playing behind the d-line group, Silvera at minimum needs to eat up interior blockers to allow McCloud, Brooks, Huff and company to roam free and make plays.
I look for Nesta Jade Silvera to finally live up to his immense talent, and play like many envisioned when he chose Miami out of high school. With all the talent around him, look for 5-7 sacks plus double digit tackles for loss. I fully expect Nesta to get the attention of NFL scouts, and number 1 to live up to that potential. Look out if you are an opposing QB and the Canes get this production from Silvera.