Miami Hurricanes lack of linebacker depth is an issue

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Three weeks into spring practice the Miami Hurricanes lack of depth at linebacker has become a concern. The Hurricanes all senior starting linebacking corps in 2019 is exceptional but if Miami sustains any injuries at LB it would be a significant loss.

Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud return for their fourth season as starters at linebacker for the Miami Hurricanes in 2019. Quarterman has finished second on the Miami defense in tackles in each of his first three seasons with the Hurricanes. Pinckney has finished third in tackles the last two seasons.

Behind Quarterman, McCloud and Pinckney, rising redshirt sophomore Bradley Jennings is the only experienced linebacker that’s healthy this spring. Waynmon Steed is out for the remainder of the spring and potentially the 2019 season with a knee injury. DeAndre Wilder’s career is in question because of a neck injury.

Wilder suffered the injury during training camp last August. It cost him his entire sophomore season. Wilder made 10 tackles as a freshman in 2017. Jennings has 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery in two seasons with the Miami Hurricanes.

The striker position was created by current Miami head coach Manny Diaz last spring as a way to  use their depth at safety in getting more talented players on the field. The striker is a hybrid of linebacker and defensive back. Diaz wants players on the field who are equally adept at defending the run and the pass.

Striker will be a vital position for the Miami Hurricanes defense in 2019 without depth at linebacker. McCloud is listed at striker with rising senior Romeo Finley, rising sophomore Gilbert Frierson and walkon Calvin Alford. Miami also has rising redshirt freshman walkon Darian Stephenson at LB.

Incoming freshmen linebackers four-star Avery Huff and three-star Samuel Brooks will join the Miami Hurricanes this summer. With the lack of depth that Miami has at the position they could figure into the rotation like Quarterman, Pinckney and McCloud did as freshmen in 2016.

Miami defensive coordinator Blake Baker told reporters that he has spoken with head coach Manny Diaz about the possibility of adding a graduate transfer at linebacker for 2019.

"“Darian is doing some really good things…Colvin is doing some really good things as well at our striker position. If we move someone, that’s who it will be. Shaq and Pinckney, you would like to try to back off some reps from them, which now we’re not able to with the depth situation.It’s been great for B.J. Jennings. He’s playing mike and will and looking to fill that Mike Smith role, the swing role. You wish you had a little bit more.” (Smith has graduated and has no remaining eligibility.)You are looking for guys (transfers) who can help you come in and win this season. We have discussed it, but there are a lot of positions on the team, if the right guy pops up, we would take. It’s still early in the transfer game.”"

Diaz has spoken with reporters this spring that he and the Miami Hurricanes staff will evaluate transfers once spring practice concludes across the country. Players and teams will get a better idea of where they are on the depth chart when spring practice ends.

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Many players will decide to move on who are unhappy with their current situations. Miami lost QB Jack Allison to West Virginia during the spring of 2017 when he fell behind Malik Rosier on the depth chart. Allison redshirted in 2017 and was the backup to former Florida QB Will Grier with the Mountaineers last season.