Miami enters spring camp with one position group that has the look and potential to play like some old school Miami Hurricanes teams, and that group is safety. Miami has had stars at that position going back over 4 decades, and when the Canes were National Title good, there was usually a star on the back end. Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Bennie Blades, Daryl Williams, CJ Richardson, Jaquan Johnson and many others have patrolled the deep part of Miami’s defense, and the Canes have the talent going into 2022 to conjure up some memories of greats gone by.
Who will be the guys to step up beyond the top 3 guys in the rotation. Here is a look at the depth chart heading into spring ball.
Avantae Williams, 3rd year, 1 start, 5 games, 182 snaps
Isaiah Dunson, 3rd year, 13 games, 173 snaps
Keshawn Washington, 3rd year, 6 games, 50 snaps
Jalen Harrell, 3rd year, 6 games, 21 snaps
Brian Balom, 3rd year, 1 start, 10 games, 104 snaps
James Williams, 2nd year, 7 starts, 384 snaps
Kamren Kinchens, 2nd year, 5 starts, 554 snaps
Markeith Williams, 1st year
New defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has a plethora of talent to work with at safety. James Williams lived up to the 5-Star billing with a good freshman season starting 7 games, totalling 31 tackles and 2 interceptions. Williams is 6’5” and over 220 lbs and many have said he should move to LB. Williams is steadfast that he is a safety, and his play dictates that he can be a star at that position. Coach Steele has a good one to build around in WIlliams, but two others warrant playing time as well. Kamren Kinchens doesn’t have the size of Williams, but his playmaking ability and feel for the game seem to be special. Kinchens played in 11 games and came up with 44 total tackles. As he becomes more comfortable with a new defense, look for Kam to turn into a ballhawk at safety. The third piece to the starting safety equation is Avantae Williams. One of the best things Manny Diaz did while at Miami was allow Williams to have a 2nd chance, after an off the field issue almost had him dismissed from Miami. Williams was suspended 6 games, but after that he thrived in Miami’s defense. Williams picked up 18 tackles and a pick in just 4 games. Look for him to also thrive in a much more sound defensive scheme. Miami has three guys who should share starting time, and Kevin Steele will have a lot of versatility to play around with.
Guys With Something to Prove
Brian Balom - Balom didn’t play in 2021 due to injury, but did garner 10 tackles in his true freshman season in 2020. Brian came to Miami as a 3 star prospect in the 2020 class.
Isaiah Dunson - Dunson arrived at Miami as a 4 star CB, but was moved to safety after injuries a year ago. Dunson has played sparingly, and unfortunately his most memorable play a year ago was a ball that ricocheted off his hands for a TD in the Virginia game. Dunson has size and range and could be a player in the future for the Canes.
Keshawn Washington - Washington also did not play in 2021, but did manage 3 tackles during his freshman season in Coral Gables. Washington was a 3 star prospect who was part of the 2020 class and has the size at 6’3” to thrive, but has a lot of talent in front of him he needs to overcome.
Jalen Harrell - Harrell is another 4 star prospect from the 2020 class who arrived at Miami as a CB and has since been moved to safety. In 2 seasons on campus Jalen has produced 4 total tackles.
Markeith Williams - Williams arrives on campus as a 4-star recruit out of Orlando Florida. At 6’1” and 170 lbs, Williams would probably be best served with a redshirt season to grow into a college frame.
The Canes have skill and depth at safety, with a couple of potential All-Conference type players and plenty of high quality depth where injuries should not derail the season. Mario Cristobal and Kevin Steele have to feel good about the guys on the backend of the defense, and with some pass rush, this should be a group that excels in 2022.