Miami Hurricanes Linebacking depth will be better in 2018

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 30: Troy Fumagalli /

The Miami Hurricanes could have to replace all or some of its rising Junior linebacking core after the 2018 season. They have to develop depth behind them this year.

Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman both earned true Freshman All-America status after the 2016 season. Together with Zach McCloud, all three started as Freshman.

With the possibility all or part of their great triad of linebackers could leave after the 2018 season, the Hurricanes have to start developing depth and players who will step into their roles after they head to the NFL.

Waynmon Steed, Bradley Jennings and DeAndre Wilder are all likely to see playing time in 2018. They will move up after Miami lost backups Jamie Gordnier who decided to retire after chronic injuries and Damion Owens who transferred for his final season of college football.

Steed and Wilder redshirted last year as Freshmen. Wilder will be Sophomore in eligibility this fall. Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz has praised the potential of all three. He told the Palm Beach Post last week.

"“Waynmon Steed has been impressive…He has the instincts to make quick decisions at linebacker, gives us someone dynamic similar to Mike Pinckney which we didn’t really have on our roster [last season],”"

Steed redshirted last year to rehab and recover from a severe knee injury he suffered during his Senior year in high school in 2016. Jennings made seven tackles primarily on special teams last season. Diaz likes the future with both Steed and Jennings.

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  • "“And [sophomore-to-be] Bradley Jennings as well. Those two guys right now, they still make some young, inexperienced mistakes, but in terms of linebacker instinct and linebacker play both those guys are pretty advanced given their overall level of experience.”"

    Diaz also said that they are going to expect the Sam or strongside linebacker to be in pass coverage more often this season. Anticipating that Miami might use safties Derrick Smith and Romeo Finley some at the SAM in a nickel package. McCloud and Wilder are also possibilities. Diaz said:

    "“There’s no doubt we’re trying to increase the reaction time we have at that position out there,"

    Charles Perry returns from injury and Mike Smith is also back. It’s a deep group that should help Diaz continue to be aggressive defensively. Diaz is also excited about the versatility that Wilder’s speed can provide.

    "“We’ve got him kicked out playing more in space. Really trying to see what he can do, and he’s challenging wide receivers out there….to give flexibility in what we can do coverage-wise.”"

    Next: Miami Hurricanes LB Zach McCloud suffers wrist injury, who's next?

    McCloud, Pinckney and Quarterman will be the elder statesmen of the defense in 2018. Their leadership will help out on that entire side of the ball. They will also serve as great mentors to the linebacking unit.