Evaluating Miami's D-End play

The Hurricanes are off this week. They're using the time off to get healthy again. CanesTime's Mike Bakas is using it as a chance to evaluate the team through the first seven games of the season. Today, the focus is on the defensive ends.

Anthony Chickillo -- The leader and most experienced member of this group, Chick has been rock solid this season. He's bigger and stronger than he's ever been and continues playing with a high motor. He lacks the quickness and athleticism to be a premier pass rusher but he's rock solid against the run and is very disciplined while playing in Mark D'Onofrio's complicated scheme. Chick's having the type of season just about everyone expected him to have.

Tyriq McCord -- One of the most frustrating parts about watching D'Onofrio's defensive scheme is how often McCord is asked to cover guys 15+ yards downfield. We're talking about a kid who set sack records in high school, a kid who was recruited nationally because of his ability to get after the quarterback. In an attacking 4-3 style of defense, McCord would me a more traditional defensive end and has the ability to be a 10+ sack guy. Instead, he has one through seven games. He's a tremendous athlete who will eventually play on Sundays because of his pass rushing skills.

Chad Thomas -- One of the nation's most heavily recruited defensive linemen last year, Thomas has played in every game except for Nebraska (he didn't travel due to minor back issues). He's shown very good football IQ, a good motor, and the little things that you're never quite sure of when it comes to incoming freshmen. He has all the physical tools to be a difference maker down the road. While he doesn't have the same pass rushing skills as someone like McCord, he can potentially be the total package at the defensive end spot and will be expected to take over Chick's spot in the starting lineup in the spring.

Trent Harris -- One of the state's most heavily recruited pass rushers last season, Harris had a very good fall camp and really pushed McCord for the starting job. Like McCord, he plays the hybrid position in this defense and it's often frustrating watching him having to cover guys down the field. Like McCord, he could be a terror off the edge. Instead, he's still seeking his first sack. The athleticism is there and he has a very bright future here though.

Demetrius Jackson -- At 6-foot-5, he came in here with a good frame but was very raw. He's still learning the game in many ways. He hasn't played yet so it's unclear how much athleticism he really has and how effective he'll be down the road. He wasn't recruited to come in and make an early impact like some others so he still has plenty of time. He's on track to redshirt.

Jelani Hamilton -- A former four-star recruit from South Florida, it's just never happened for him. He's buried on the depth chart again this season and hasn't even seen the field yet. There are always a few players who leave or transfer after their junior seasons and Hamilton seems like a candidate to take that route.

Quan Muhammad -- Despite being suspended for the entire season, Muhammad is still on scholarship and is still listed on the school's official roster. He has similar pass rushing skills as guys like McCord and Harris but like them, his impact will continue being limited due to the scheme the Hurricanes run. It's unclear whether he'll return to the team in the spring but it would certainly be a major boost because he has the physical tools to play on Sundays one day.

Related Story:

The Scoop on Miami's O-Line Play

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