Fall Preview: Defensive Line

The Hurricanes have some good talent here but there's not a lot of proven depth. Lets take a closer look at how this position will shape up.

Having good defensive linemen has never been a problem for the University of Miami. Even during the probation years, the Canes have always had plenty of talent. This year will be no different.

Junior Calais Campbell is clearly the leader of the group. An All-ACC pick as a sophomore, Campbell is coming off an excellent season. He finished last season with 84 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 17 hurries, and 10.5 sacks. He'll be the starter on the right side as he continues developing into one of the most dominant defensive linemen in all of college football.

Junior Eric Moncur looks to have the starting spot on the left side heading into fall camp. Moncur has played in 22 games as a Hurricane, starting five of them. He had 24 tackles, 2 for loss, 9 hurries, and 1 sack a season ago. Now a full-time starter for the first time, look for those production totals to go up if he can stay healthy.

Getting quality depth at the end position could be a question mark for the Hurricanes. Sophomore Courtney Harris, who had 7 tackles and 1 sack in 11 games last season, and redshirt freshman Steven Wesley are talented pass rushers trying to earn some playing time. Senior Vegas Franklin has bounced back and forth between end and tackle in his career and could provide depth here. He's played in 28 games as a Hurricane and has 17 career tackles and 0.5 sacks.

Incoming freshman Adewale Ojomo, who is still trying to get cleared for admission, will have a good chance of earning playing time as well. He's a speed rusher who is tough to block coming off the edge.

Switching over to tackle, there is are more bodies but they are less proven as a group. Kareem Brown emerged to have a strong season inside for the Hurricanes last season and now the question is who will emerge as the leader this season.

Senior Teraz McCray is the most likely candidate. McCray has played in 28 games as a Hurricane, making 8 starts, and has 56 career tackles with 5.5 sacks. A torn ACL in the spring of 2005 slowed him down some but otherwise he's been a solid performer for the Canes inside.

Who will emerge as the starter next to him remains a big question mark. Junior Antonio Dixon is probably most likely at this point.

A junior who has battled to keep his weight down in recent years, Dixon has played in 19 games, starting 2 of them. He has 21 career tackles and one sack. If he's able to keep his weight down and stay in decent shape, he'll be a key clog in the middle. Having a wide-body, two-gap run stuffer is a must in the 4-3, keeping linebackers free.

The only other tackles with playing experience are junior Dwayne Hendricks (14 games, 11 tackles, 1 sack) and sophomore Joe Joseph (1 game, 0 tackles). Those two are unlikely to crack the starting lineup however.

Redshirt freshman Josh Holmes has gotten good reviews from coaches early in his career. He could become a factor in the rotation. Sophomore Luqman Abdallah and redshirt freshman Chaz Washington are also looking for their first action as Hurricanes. Incoming freshman Chris Perry could also get an opportunity to earn some early playing time.

Campbell's as good as you'll find at defensive end. If Moncur stays healthy, he can be very good on the other side. At tackle, McCray is solid and Dixon could be a huge factor if he stays in shape. After that, there are a lot of question marks that need to be answered quickly. Defensive line coach Clint Hurtt will definitely have his hands full as fall camp gets going later this week.


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