Miami looks to have a great offense as chronicled in last weeks Top 5, but the defense needs to step up after a tough 2020. Miami has plenty of talent, and Manny Diaz takes over as play caller. Going back a couple of years, Diaz led some extremely aggressive units who thrived on pressure and creating turnovers, and the Canes need to get back to this to truly reach the lofty expectations going into this season. The Canes will have to replace some talented players like Jaelan Phillips, Quincy Roche and others, but with a ton of studs staying put, Miami will be back in the Top 20 defensively in my opinion.
This weeks Top 5 Tuesday is the top defensive players on the 2021 Canes.
5. Gilbert Frierson - The 6’1” 205 junior will be entering his second year as the starting striker on defense. Originally recruited as a CB, the defensive staff quickly realized Frierson could do much more in the hybrid role. Gilbert would finish with 53 total tackles, 9 for loss with 2 sacks in an impressive campaign. Expect him to play all over Manny’s defense and come up with a few more turnovers in this years scheme.
4. Al Blades Jr. - Blades was knocked out of 2020 with some medical concerns but still was able to start 8 games and come up with 2 interceptions in the process. Blades Jr. is a natural leader and playmaker and should improve on his 29 tackles and 7 passes defended. With Diaz calling more man to man coverage, look for Al Jr. to be one of the most improved players.
3. Nesta Jade Silvera - Nasty Nesta really came into his own as a disruptive force on the interior of the line. Silvera tallied 35 total tackles and 1 sack,but spent a lot of time in the opponents backfield. With Jess Simpson back as coach, look for Nesta to have a season reminiscent of Gerald Willis in 2018, as he has that type of ability. Silvera is also trying to cement his spot in the upcoming NFL draft.
2. Tyrique Stevenson - Stevenson arrives via the transfer portal from Georgia and immediately becomes Miami’s best CB. In 2 seasons at UGA Tyrique played a lot of slot corner, had 47 total tackles and 10 passes defended. Stevenson excelled in Georgia’s Bowl win over Cincinnati and looked to be a long time starter for the Dawgs, instead he transferred home and looks to excel now on the outside. Miami got a star and filled a need at the same time, and now the CB room is as talented as it has been in a long time.
1. Bubba Bolden - Bubba Bolden could be getting ready for NFL training camp, but chose to return to Coral Gables for his final year. Measuring 6’3” and 205lbs, Bubba possesses every trait of an elite safety, though it is time for him to have the consistency to get him drafted in the 1st round. Bubba tallied 74 tackles 1 pick and a sack to pace the Canes. He also showed his metal with a great performance in the loss to Clemson. He may not be Ed Reed or Sean Taylor, but he can be a special player before he departs Miami.
Miami would love to climb back up the defensive rankings and finally be great on both sides of the ball. These fives guys plus some youngsters can be the catalysts to do so.