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2022 Canes Recruiting: The Need For More Fast, Athletic Linebackers

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Stacking the linebacker room with fast and physical playmakers is crucial for Miami in recruiting this year.

NCAA Football: Cheez-It Bowl-Oklahoma State vs Miami Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve gone on at length how Miami’s biggest position group of need in the 2022 recruiting is cornerbacks, and while that is true, linebacker is right there at number two. If you look at how Miami’s LB’s have performed in recent years, you forget that this is the same school that produced guys like Ray Lewis and Jessie Armstead.

Whether it’s the lack of recruiting top players at the position, or the underwhelming development at linebacker, the production just hasn’t been there at UM recently, and finding the right players in the 2022 class in the first step.

This is one of the reasons why I'm so excited about the addition of Travis Williams to the staff. If you look at his time at Auburn, Williams was able to land high-profile recruits at linebacker, like 5-star Owen Pappoe in the 2019 class or Zakoby McClain in 2018.

The importance of linebackers have always been high for building a top-notch defense, but it has only increased in recent years. With offenses going to more spread looks, utilizing pass-catching running backs and exploiting matchups, you’re going to need linebackers that can contain that speed and slow down the opposition.

For the last two years, Miami’s linebackers have been exposed in defending these types of offenses, and this past season was a prime example. Lack of vision and slow to react, the Hurricanes linebackers in 2020 were just....slow. They were weak in coverage, and failed to contain the outside.

Gilbert Frierson at striker was the bright spot here, Sam Brooks Jr. and Corey Flagg Jr. have shown flashes of good play, but the consistent production isn’t there. If Miami wants its defense to get back to where it has been, and where it should be, upgrading at linebacker is where the Canes need to focus their attention.

For the most part, Miami is going to have a force when rushing the quarterback, due to their continued success with defensive lineman. However, it’s the next level of defense in the linebackers that’s going to help shut down plays at the second level, whether it’s covering running backs in passing situations, or containing them in the run game.

There’s a reason why Miami Central 4-star LB Wesley Bissainthe is being pursued so heavily in his recruitment process. Bissainthe is a versatile player at the position, big build, he can take on blockers while also being excellent in pass coverage. He has the speed to contain the outside, as well as great instincts to make a play when defending the pass.

He’s the kind of linebacker the Hurricanes need.

Travious Lathan out of Gulliver Prep is another great example. A linebacker who has the big athletic frame, can cover slot receivers or tight ends, great speed sideline to sideline.

He’s the kind of linebacker the Hurricanes need.

I think you get the point now. Offenses aren’t what they were 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, it’s getting faster at all angles, and you need a fast defense in order to attack those angles. So while Miami can continue to produce these great players at defensive end, if they want to get back to being a dominant defense as a whole, they’re going to need to beef up their recruiting at linebacker.