The heartbeat of a defense is typically the linebacking unit, and Miami has done an excellent job of bringing in quality players in the last couple of recruiting cycles to bolster that unit and set the tone of the defense. Miami’s staff signed Bobby Washington, Malik Bryant, Raul “Popo” Aguirre, and Marcellius Pullium this offseason in addition to transfer additions KJ Cloyd and Francisco Mauigoa.
Miami Linebackers coach Derek Nicholson spoke highly of Washington describing him as “Long, big, athletic, tough, twitchy, can run, I mean very, very, fast and very, very explosive. Bobby has a very, very bright future.”
The undoubted leader of the unit will be Mauigoa, who comes to UM as a transfer from the Washington Cougars, Coach Nicholson said that he’s “Very instinctive, has very good awareness, really good football player, active, athletic, he does a lot of good things. It’s hard to find a lot of weaknesses...he’ll have great year this year.”
Miami has 13 linebackers on the current roster, and the way I see it playing out (barring injury) is only the top 8 will see any meaningful playing time this season. It is possible the others can see more PT on special teams.
1. Francisco Mauigoa 6-3 230 lbs. Junior
2. Wesley Bissainthe 6-1 205 lbs. Sophomore
3. K.J. Cloyd 6-2 228 lbs. Fourth-Year Junior
4. Corey Flagg, Jr. 5-11 230 lbs. Fourth-Year Junior
5. Keontra Smith 5-11 205 lbs. Fifth-Year Senior
6. Chase Smith 6-2 210 lbs. Redshirt Sophomore
7. Bobby Washington, Jr. 6-3 220 lbs. Freshman
8. Malik Bryant 6-2 225 lbs. Freshman
9. Raul Aguirre, Jr. 6-2 233 lbs. Freshman
10. Marcellius Pulliam 6-3 230 lbs. Freshman
11. Ryan Ragone 5-11 220 lbs. Fifth-Year Redshirt Junior
12. Rocky Shelton II 5-11 225 lbs. Sixth-Year Redshirt Senior
13. Lucas Peterson 6-0 190 lbs. Redshirt Sophomore
What I feel is the most important thing is we have size and competition in the room again. Flagg described it like this: “This linebacking room is full of guys that are hungry. A lot of competition. You’re going to make mistakes, but you know in the back of your mind you really can’t make mistakes because there’s somebody behind you. That’s what you need. You need competition. It makes you better. It makes you better as a team, and it makes you better as a unit and as an individual. Over the years, we’ve had glimpses of that. But, this year, in this fall camp, it’s been very consistent every day. Every guy’s competing at every position. I love it, man. You’ve got to do every little thing right and it’s going to make you better.”
This group has me excited to see them take the field this season, and thankfully we’re only a few weeks away from pads poppin in Hard Rock Stadium!
What are your thoughts on our Linebacker unit? Let us know in the comments.