2006 Spring Preview: Defense

The University of Miami football team begins spring practice on Tuesday, March 21. Here is a look at the defense and three key players to watch.

TOP DEFENSIVE RETURNERS
Defensive Coordinator:Randy Shannon

Defensive Line
Coach: John Palermo & Clint Hurtt

Baraka Atkins, SR // 50 tackles, 5 for loss, 1.5 sacks
Bryan Pata, SR // 22 tackles, 5 for loss, 3 sacks
Kareem Brown, SR // 41 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks
Teraz McCray, JR // 11 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 sacks
Calais Campbell, SO // 36 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks
Eric Moncur, SO // 20 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 sacks

Atkins, Pata, and Brown are seniors expected to lead and produce in 2006. Production including sacks--although coaches will tell you otherwise--will be a very important key for this trio. They need to have their motors constantly going and never giving up on a play. Their effort in the spring will go a long ways in their projected impact during the season.

Campbell, at 6-foot-8, is the most intriguing player of the group and will look to have a productive spring to get on the field more.

Atkins could move back to defensive end full-time if the coaches are confident in Brown/McCray at defensive tackle. Atkins is more productive at defensive end and does not have the same impact as a tackle.

Linebackers
Coach: Randy Shannon

Jon Beason, JR // 64 tackles, 4 for loss
Romeo Davis, JR // 36 tackles, 5 for loss
Glenn Cook, JR // 24 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks
Willie Williams, SO // 19 tackles, 2 for loss
Spencer Adkins, SO // 0 tackles
Tavares Gooden, JR // medical redshirt
Darryl Sharpton, FR // redshirt
Beason, Williams, and Gooden are the expected starting linebackers in 2006 with each one of the bringing a lot of speed and athleticism to the linebacker position. One of them must emerge from the group and be a leader. Look for Beason to be that guy.

Davis and Cook are sleepers to crack the starting lineup. Both players have played in a number of games, but lack the overall explosiveness that the above trio has.

Sharpton and Akins are the youngest of the group, but could enter the mix if they make plays. This spring will be a test to both players as to how much they learned about the defense as freshmen last fall.

Defensive Backs
Coach: Tim Walton

Brandon Meriweather, SR // 112 tackles, 12 for loss, 3 INT
Kenny Phillips, SO // 90 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 INT
Randy Phillips, SO // 9 tackles, 1 INT
Bruce Johnson, SO // 8 tackles
Anthony Reddick, SO // medical redshirt
Glenn Sharpe, SR // injured--did not play
Carlos Armour, SO // medical redshirt

Meriweather has expressed his interest in being a leader and the spring will be his first true experience as a leader. Will be he vocal? Will he bring it every day in practice? Will he instruct the younger players? And will he earn his teammates respect? Time will tell.

Reddick, Sharpe, and Armour could all be important contributors to the team this fall if they are healthy. All three players missed last season due to ACL injuries. Sharpe will be the most intriguing story of the spring as he fights for a starting spot after two knee injuries and playing in just two games over the past 28 months.

Special Teams
Coach: Joe Pannunzio

Jon Peattie, SR // 15-20 FG, 34-39 XP
Brian Monroe, SR // 39.8 punting average

Peattie will finish his career on a number of all-time career lists at Miami, but it is those five missed extra points in 2005 that he is currently best-known for.

Monroe hasn't had the career many have hoped, but will look to finish out strong in his final season.

TOP 3 DEFENSIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

1. CB Glenn Sharpe, can he recover from his knee injuries to be a starter in 2006?

2. DL Baraka Atkins, decided to come back for final season--can he dominate as a senior?

3. LB Willie Williams, everyone loves Willie and now it's his time to shine.

SPRING GAME

The annual spring game is on April 15 at 10:00 a.m. at the Orange Bowl. Admission is free.

Christopher Stock is a Senior Editor with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com

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