Miami Hurricanes long legacy of LBs is helping in recruiting

BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 17: (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 17: (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images) /

Linebacker is the most critical position for the Miami Hurricanes in their 2020 recruiting class. Miami has to replace three four-year starters at LB. Miami’s long history of excellence at LB is helping them in recruiting.

Only one of the Miami Hurricanes 16 commits for 2020 is a linebacker. Three-star LB Alvin Mathis committed to Miami last month. The Hurricanes signed two highly rated LBs in their Surge ’19 recruiting class.

Four-star Avery Huff from St. Thomas Aquinas and three-star Samuel Brooks from Miami Northwestern will join the Miami Hurricanes this summer. Huff and Brooks will be given every opportunity to contribute as true freshmen. Miami is extremely thin at LB behind their starters.

Seniors Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud are all entering their fourth season as starters. Manny Diaz created the striker position during 2018 spring football. It was originally done because of the excess talent the Hurricanes had at safety. Diaz wanted to be able to get the backups at safety playing time.

The Striker position will save the Miami defense in 2019. Romeo Finley had an exceptional season in 2018. Finley and McCloud shared the newly created position in 2018 with Derrick Smith backing them up. Smith has been shifted back to safety for the 2019 season. Rising sophomore Gilbert Frierson was moved to striker.

The legacy of the Miami linebackers stretches from Micheal Barrow, Darrin Smith and Jessie Armstead in the 1980s and 90s, to Ray Lewis and Dan Morgan later in the decade, to D.J. Williams and Jonathan Vilma on the 2001 national championship team and Jon Beason a few years later. Players now are aware of the Miami LBs.

Miami 2020 recruit Tirek Austin-Cave took his official visit to Miami this weekend. The Hurricanes legacy at linebacker is a big reason he is leaning towards signing with the Hurricanes. Austin-Cave had a breakout junior season that has led to an increase in offers from Power Five schools. Miami offered him in February.

Austin-Cave told the Miami Herald that he expects to make a decision on his college choice this summer. Minnesota, Syracuse and West Virginia are among the other schools vying for his services. He seems mature for a  player entering his senior year of high school. Austin-Cave discussed what he likes about Miami.

"“Before I landed the offer, I was looking at all time the schools that produce linebackers and Miami’s up there. I feel like it’s really ‘LBU’ and they produce great linebackers in their history…The things they do for linebackers is just crazy, and the linebackers they produce in the league, they last very long.“Most likely a summer commitment, if possible..I’m just trying to figure everything out. It’s a process. It’s stressful in a good way, so I’m just taking my time. I just need to talk some things over with my parents, and I should have a decision coming very soon.”"

Frierson hosted Austin-Cave on his visit this past weekend. The Camden, New Jersey product was impressed with Frierson’s passion for the Hurricanes. Austin-Cave is projected as a middle linebacker. He finished the 2018 season with 162 total tackles, 13 1/2 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and three passes defended.

"“It’s just amazing because I can tell how much passion he has for the game. He wants to win. Having that ‘U’ and playing at the University of Miami, it just holds a lot of weight and pressure, so I can tell he really cares about it…Miami — it was probably the greatest school of all time, so I’m just blessed to be in this situation right now.”"

At 6’1 203 pounds, Austin-Cave’s size, or lack thereof is a concern. He is currently the 546th ranked player in 247 Sports composite rankings, the 17th best inside LB and 14th best player in New Jersey. Miami head coach Manny Diaz has spoken in the past that the rankings are of no concern to him.

Pinckney came into Miami as a three-star signee during Diaz and Mark Richt’s first season with the Hurricanes in 2016. He has become a four-year starter and created his own legacy as one of the Hurricanes best linebackers in program history.

Quarterman, Pinckney, McCloud and Finley’s departures after the 2019 season are a big part of the Hurricanes pitch to Austin-Cave. Miami explicitly has to add linebackers in the 2020 recruiting class. One will not be enough. The Hurricanes will have UCLA transfer Jaelan Phillips ready to go in 2020.

Next. Florida's offensive inconsistencies will work in Miami Hurricanes favor. dark

Phillips can play either LB or defensive end. Backups DeAndre Wilder, Bradley Jennings and Waynmon Steed all suffered injuries that kept them sidelined for all of most of the spring. Wilder might not be able to play again. Jennings and Steed’s recoveries are progressing. Miami likely cannot count on them for 2019.