After finishing last season with one of the best defensive lines in all of college football, the Hurricanes return everyone from its two deep roster. Defensive ends Andrew Williams and Jerome McDougle will continue to wreck havoc on opposing offenses, while seniors Jamaal Green and Cornelius Green provide depth. Sophomore John Square is a tremendously talented pass rusher who the coaches think very highly of.
Inside, however, is where everything starts defensively. William Joseph will be a first round pick after next season, but it was the emergence of senior Matt Walters and sophomore Vince Wilfork that really bolstered the UM defensive front last season. Walters led all defensive linemen in tackles, while Wilfork showed flashes of possibly becoming the next Russell Maryland or Warren Sapp. Junior Santonio Thomas and Miguel Robede (pronounced RobaDay) will provide depth, as will redshirt freshman sensation Orien Harris.
Despite losing strong side linebacker Chris Campbell to graduation, the Hurricanes should be much improved as a unit at linebacker next season. Juniors Jonathan Vilma and DJ Williams improved tremendously as the season went along last season. Both had what probably was the best game of each of their careers. While Vilma should continue to be rock solid in the middle, Williams and his physical tools should really start to separate and he's primed for a super junior season. Senior Howard Clark, sophomore Jarrell Weaver, and redshirt freshman Roger McIntosh will likely compete for the will spot. Clark has the most experience, while Weaver keeps getting better and better, but it's McIntosh that might be the most talented of the three. Junior Darrell McClover and redshirt freshman Leon Williams will help provide depth.
Losing star cornerbacks Michael Rumph and Phillip Buchanon won't be easy for the UM secondary. However, Alfonso Marshall and Antrel Rolle both got lots of playing time this past season and both have tremendous physical ability. Marshall is a shut down cover guy like a Buchanon, while Rolle is more of a physical, in your face type of corner like a Rumph. Redshirt freshmen Kelly Jennings, who will likely challenge for a starting spot, and Jean Leone will help provide depth.
Departing free safety Edward Reed left the University of Miami as perhaps the best player to ever play that position here. However, an absolute big time talent is replacing him. Sophomore sensation Sean Taylor is ready to step in and make a huge impact. The top defensive player in last year year's recruiting class, Taylor played a lot as a true freshman this past season. He'll be joined in the secondary by either junior Mo Sikes or redshirt freshman Marcus Maxey. Sikes is a tremendous tackler and has some playing experience, while Maxey has done nothing but impress the coaches since he got here last August.
Punter Freddie Capshaw returns as arguably the top punter in the conference. A finalist for the top punter award in college football last season, Capshaw should pick up right where he left off.
Spring Peak: Defense
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