Breaking down Miami's LB play

Denzel Perryman has led a solid group of linebackers in 2014. Read on for complete analysis of this group from CanesTime's Mike Bakas after the first half of the season.

1. Denzel Perryman -- Widely considered the team's top defensive player this season, Perryman is having the type of season most people expected from him. He's on pace for close to 100 tackles and is one of the leaders on the defensive side of the ball. He's a throwback type of player here and would generate a lot more buzz if he was playing on a defense that guys like Dan Morgan and Jon Vilma once played in. Perryman is expected to have a very strong second half of the season and become a second round draft pick in April.

2. Thurston Armbrister -- Possibly the most pleasant surprise on the entire team so far this season, Armbrister has had a breakout senior season. A very lightly recruited late addition to Al Golden's first recruiting class here, he has started every game and played really well. He's second on the team in tackles, first in tackles for loss and sacks, and has caused a couple fumbles. He's been used in a lot of blitz packages and is having the type of senior season that could catch the attention of NFL scouts.

3. Raphael Kirby -- A former four-star recruit from the state of Georgia, Kirby finally found his way into the starting lineup this season. He's turned in a solid junior campaign so far. He's started every game at will linebacker and is fifth on the team in tackles. Considering he'll be the most experienced of the starters next season, there's a decent chance he'll get moved to the middle in the spring.

4. Jermaine Grace -- An undersized recruit from two years ago, Grace has gained solid weight and has used tremendous athleticism to break into the rotation as a sophomore this season. He's played in every game and is now fourth on the team in tackles. He's expected to be a starter next season and should see more and more time down the stretch this season.

5. Darrion Owens -- The most promising of Miami's four true freshman linebackers, Owens has made an early impact. He looks like he can be a three-down linebacker and has played in every game so far. He came close to edging out Armbrister for a starting job during fall camp and looks to have a very promising future here.

6. Juwon Young -- A spring entry into school, Young has played on special teams in each of Miami's first seven games but has been unable to break into the rotation at linebacker yet. He seems to have solid upside.

7t. Terry McCray -- A true freshman, McCray has not yet seen the field and is on target to redshirt.

7t. Michael Smith -- A true freshman who spent most of his time at Miami Northwestern as an edge pass rusher, Smith is redshirting this season.

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Evaluating Miami's D-End play

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