Miami Hurricanes need big contributions from sophomore DBs

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 8: (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 8: (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

Rising junior Trajan Bandy is the only returning starter in the Miami Hurricanes secondary in 2019. The sophomore class needs to contribute in the secondary for Miami to have a successful season.

Trajan Bandy has been a significant contributor to the Miami Hurricanes defense in the secondary during his first two seasons. He was a standout in the nickel as a freshman in 2017 and the lone non-senior starter in 2018.

Miami’s sophomore class is going to have to contribute in the secondary for the Hurricanes to continue to have a dominant pass defense. Miami led the nation in passing yards allowed per game and passer rating against in 2018. The 135.6 passing YPG allowed was the best in the country by more than ten yards.

Opponents 101.39 passer rating was slightly better than Mississippi State who allowed opponents a 101.47 passer rating. The sophomore defensive backs on the Miami Hurricanes roster came in highly touted in 2018. Miami signed three four-star cornerbacks and a four-star safety in the 2019 class.

Al Blades Jr. is expected to start opposite Bandy. Blades was the highest-rated defensive back in the Hurricanes 2018 class. He played in all 13 Miami Hurricanes games in 2018 and was an ace on special teams. Blades was a special teams captain twice last season and finished 2018 with 13 tackles.

D.J. Ivey and Gilbert Frierson were the other four-star cornerbacks Miami signed in 2018. The Hurricanes are also high on Nigel Bethel who was rated three-stars coming out of high school. Frierson was switched to striker during the offseason.

Incoming freshman Christian Williams and Te’Cory Crouch should also challenge for playing time in 2019. Both will arrive in Coral Gables this summer. Ivey spoke to reports after Thursday practice about the progress he has made since his freshman year. Like Blades, Ivey primarily played on special teams in 2018.

Ivey told reporters he gained 10-12 pounds in the offseason. He was asked what cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph was emphasizing this spring, how knowing he will get a substantial bump in playing time changed his approach and how he has improved during the offseason.

"“(Rumph wants corners) tackling to the edges…It changed my approach because I know I need to figure out a role and to compete…I’ve gotten better in the past year. I’m into jams and stuffing using our techniques."

Ivey was also asked if he has been in touch with Williams and Crouch. He said that he talks to them “every now and then” and that “they can come in and fill in and back up at corner.”

Gurvan Hall was the lone safety in the Miami Hurricanes 2018 recruiting class. Miami will add USC transfer Bubba Bolden and four-star freshman Keontra Smith at safety this summer.

Rising Senior Romeo Finley who was a striker last season and rising juniors Derrick Smith who also played striker in 2018 and Amari Carter all figure into the safety mix.

Hall was the second highest ranked defensive back in Miami’s 2018 signing class behind Blades. Like most of his classmates, Hall didn’t receive much playing time in 2018. Hall played in 12 games last season making eight tackles. He also spoke to reporters after practice on Wednesday.

Hall was asked what his goals were for the season and about his relationship with fellow safety Amari Carter who is his roommate.

"“Experience and goals for the spring are learning the playbook and getting here early…stay level headed and humble. We (he and Carter) go through our playbooks together. (I) used to come here in the summers and work with him. Going to practice and seeing what they are going through.”"

The likelihood is that Bolden and Carter emerge as the safeties and Blades is the starter at cornerback opposite Bandy. That would give Miami three sophomore starters in the secondary. Bolden was in the high school Class of 2017 but sat out last season at USC. Ivey should see a lot of time at cornerback.

dark. Next. Miami Hurricanes secondary has to adjust to thin depth

It’s tough to project how much Williams and Crouch will be able to come in and contribute as freshmen. The difference this year is that Miami does not have three senior starters in the secondary.