Miami Hurricanes Football: Defensive Players to Watch as Spring Practices Begin


Now that I have gone through the offensive players to keep an eye on during spring practices, it’s time to take a look at some defensive players.

DB Tracy Howard: Tracy hasn’t quite lived up to his 5* ranking out of high school. He only recorded one interception last season and dropped down the depth chart after having 4 interceptions his sophomore season. At this point in time, I believe his struggles are a result of a mental block/lack of confidence more than anything because he has all the physical tools to be a great cornerback. Now that he is entering his senior season, I expect a bounce-back season for Tracy. The Canes have some very experienced corners in Artie Burns, Corn Elder and Antonio Crawford, so he will have to work extremely hard this spring (and beyond) to earn his playing time.

S Rayshawn Jenkins: Unfortunately for Rayshawn Jenkins, his junior season ended before it even began. Jenkins underwent back surgery before the season started and he earned a redshirt as a result. As a sophomore, Jenkins ranked 4th on the team with 46 tackles (30 solo) and ranked 2nd on the team in interceptions with 3 picks. It’ll be very interesting to see how Jenkins performs this spring. He will need to get acclimated quickly because the competition at the safety position is fierce. Jenkins will have to compete with the likes of Deon Bush (most likely the free safety starter), Dallas Crawford, Jamal Carter and the talented true freshman Jaquan Johnson who is already enrolled.

DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, Chad Thomas & Demetrius Jackson: Canes fans should be very excited about the defensive ends on this roster. This is another position group where the competition will be fun to watch.

Muhammad was suspended all of last season due to an off-field incident. He will be looking to get back in the mix after having a very promising freshman season where he tallied 8 tackles (7 solo) and 2 sacks in a reserve role. Physically, Muhammad is an absolute beast and he will create fear among any offensive lineman that gets in his way. Again, the competition will be tough so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs in practices.

Chad Thomas had a bit of a disappointing freshman season, however, he showed glimpses of why he was rated a 5* recruit coming out of high school. Now that Thomas has gone through a full season, along with a full go-round of strength and conditioning, it’ll be compelling to see how he performs this spring.

On the defensive line the Canes rotate players a lot! One player that I believe will take advantage of his time on the field is Demetrius Jackson. Jackson was originally a basketball player in high school and only played football his senior season, therefore, he may still be very raw even after redshirting last season. However, with his size (6’5 240 lbs) and physical ability, he will be a mismatch for opposing offensive lineman. Jackson will be an intriguing player to monitor throughout the spring.

All Defensive Tackles: I sat and pondered for a while about which defensive tackle should be looked at closely but I couldn’t come up with just one. Luckily, the Canes finally have a bit of depth at the position. In my opinion, Ufomba Kamalu is the best defensive tackle on the roster and he should have no problem securing a starting spot. After Kamalu, there will be an intense battle for playing time between Calvin Heurtelou, Courtel Jenkins, Michael Wyche, Earl Moore, and Anthony Moten. Due to Miami’s scheme on defense, there will be a lot of rotation along the defensive line, so many of these players will see snaps. Along with the players mentioned above, Jelani Hamilton and Corey King will look to get into the mix as well.

LB Darrion Owens: The Hurricane defense runs a 3-4 scheme that gets a bit complex at times (Mr. Nordwall did a good job of explaining the Canes defensive scheme here). Jermaine Grace, Raphael Kirby and Tyriq McCord (DE/OLB hybrid) are likely 3 of the 4 starting linebackers. Owens gained valuable experience last season (played 12 games, totaled 23 tackles, 11 solo) therefore, he has the upper-hand. That being said, Owens is also the most likely to lose any playing time if there are any shortcomings from him. The other hungry linebackers include: Terry McCray, Juwon Young, and true freshman/early enrollee Charles Perry. Owens will most definitely need a productive spring.


There will be plenty of fiery battles on the Greentree Practice fields this spring. Who are you keeping an eye on during these spring practices? Feel free to reply or leave a comment below. Go Canes!!!