By David Udel.
Everyone is expecting the Canes defense will be the strength of our team again in 2019. But the Canes lost a lot on defense this year and some young guys need to step up and be CANES.
First, let’s look at the starters who we lost to graduation or NFL.
First-team ACC, DE Joe Jackson to NFL.
First Team ACC, DT Gerald Willis. Graduation
First Team ACC, S Jaquan Johnson. Graduation
Second Team ACC, CB Mike Jackson. Graduation
All ACC Honorable mention, S Sheldrick Redwine. Graduation.
The Hurricanes finished the 2018 season as the No. 1 team in the country in pass efficiency defense and No. 1 in the country in passing yards allowed per game at 135 mpg. It helped we had three lockdown DB’s in Jackson, Redwine, and Johnson.
But as we all know, those three have moved on to the NFL.
YOUNG PLAYERS THAT NEED TO STEP UP.
Either Al Blades or DJ. Ivey will have to step up for a starting CB job. Though Ivey has the perfect size, Blades has a certain toughness and swag that comes with his Name. I think Ivey has the best feel for the position, with a very high football IQ, and everything Miami is looking for in a DB. Blades, on the other hand, might be the better athlete, more of a ball hawk, and he is a Blades. Need I say more???
One of these young guns needs to step up and fulfill his destiny.
The other is Gurvan Hall. Hall will be thrown into a probable starting job next to either Amari Carter or Bubba Bolden. Hall is a big hitter that we all have just been waiting to see him get this chance. Not only does Hall step up to the challenge, but I honestly believe he will emerge as a team leader by the FSU game.
So those are the three DB’s that need to have a great spring ball and really start to lock down their position. I know that there will be growing pains, but again, there is a ton of talent with those three guys, so I think we’re fine. It will also be interesting to see how Nigel Bethel has come along, his speed simply can’t be coached. From what I have heard, Bethel is on track to compete for a spot in the rotation.
Well, our linebackers are one position we should dominate with the best linebacker room in the ACC. Quarterman, McCloud and Pinckney, all seniors have either started or played a majority of every game for the past 4 seasons.
That leaves our D-line. Replacing Gerald Willis and Joe Jackson will not be easy. So we are counting on two or three things.
First, the addition of transfers Trevon Hill and Chigozie Nnoruka should help. Hill should be a dominant force at DE and fill in for Joe Jackson with little to no drop off in performance at the position. Hill was arguably VT’s best D-line men and can get after the QB. Nnoruka, though undersized, fits right into a Diaz type defense.
Second, It’s time Jon Ford steps up and becomes the player we have all been waiting for. Plain and simple, It’s time Mr. Ford shows what he’s made of.
Third, we have three young guns that need to step up and take leadership roles.
Nesta Silvera needs to have a solid year at DT, and by the FSU game, be our starting Tackle.
Gregory Rousseau with his freakish length and skill set needs to have a solid year and break solidly into the rotation. I believe he is at 100 percent after his season-ending injury last year, and Rousseau will be a man on a mission in 2019.
Finally, the last young gun that needs to show up big, Jordan (Tree Trunk) Miller. Miller needs to show that when Pat Bethel and Jon Ford move on at the end of the year, Tree Trunk Miller will be ready and waiting to blow up offensive backfields as he did in high school.
So this spring I will have all eyes on Al Blades, DJ. Ivey, Gurvan Hall, Nesta Silvera, and Tree Trunk Miller. Five very important young guns we will have to count on for Manny Diaz’s high-risk high reward defense to be as dominant as last year’s.
Don’t forget we added some very talented Young Guns in the 2019 class.
4* CB Christian Williams should see some playing time, along with the hard-hitting 4* Safety Keontra Smith out of Chaminade-Madonna Prep. We also added his teammate from Chaminade Madonna Prep, 4* Te’Cory Couch. Couch reminds me of a young Darryl Green, great cover skills and a very nice last second move to the ball. But at 148 pounds, I see a redshirt year for Couch to put on some weight.
We also added two very nice LB’s in Avery Huff from STA and Samuel Brooks. While Huff is a great Linebacker and will be a star at Miami, the one to keep an eye on is Brooks from Northwestern High in Miami. I’m telling you, Brooks just might be that next special Cane. I’m calling it right now, Samuel Brooks will be one of the best Linebackers in Canes history. Enjoy the show!!!!
We also added some special young guns on our D-line.
From Brooklyn 4* DT Jayson Blissit, and also from NY, 3* DT’s
Adam ElGammal and Jared Harrison-Hunte. We also added Jalar Holley, a very interesting kid from Georgia.
Let’s hope some of these kids step up and fill the shoes left by our graduating Seniors. Blades, Ivey, Hall, Silvera, Miller, Rousseau, it’s time to shine.