New Miami Hurricanes Co-DC Blake Baker likes safety competition

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 8: Amari Carter #5 of the Miami Hurricanes sacks D'Vonn Gibbons #3 of the Savannah State Tigers on September 8, 2018 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 8: Amari Carter #5 of the Miami Hurricanes sacks D'Vonn Gibbons #3 of the Savannah State Tigers on September 8, 2018 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

The depth the Miami Hurricanes have at safety in 2019 will make it a challenge for new co-defensive coordinators Blake Baker and Ephraim Banda to keep them all happy this season.

The Miami Hurricanes lost starting safeties Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine following the 2018 season. Johnson led the Miami football team in tackles in 2018. New Miami co-defensive coordinator Blake Baker stated that he currently has four safeties vying for the two starting spots to replace Johnson and Redwine.

USC transfer Bubba Bolden is not one of those safeties. Bolden is still awaiting clearance to get into Miami. Head coach Manny Diaz said earlier this month he still expects Bolden to be ready to play Florida in season opener August 24. It is difficult to see Bolden starting without time in training camp.

The four safeties that Baker was referring to were sophomore Gurvan Hall, senior Robert Knowles and juniors Amari Carter and Derrick Smith. Smith was switched back to safety for the 2019 season after backing up former safety Romeo Finley in 2019 at striker. Former cornerback, sophomore Gilbert Frierson was moved to striker.

Four-star safety, true freshman Keontra Smith is going to have a tough time making an impact with the depth the Hurricanes have at safety this season. With the four players mentioned above, plus Derrick Smith and Bolden, the Hurricanes will go three deep at both safety positions in 2019.

Baker has been pleased

with the performance of the five safeties in training camp. He was quoted in the Sun-Sentinel by Christy Chirinos. All of the Miami Hurricanes safeties have had impressive moments according to the new defensive coordinator.

"“I truly believe this, this is not coach talk, but I’ve got a four-way fight right now and these kids are getting after it. Every day [Smith] does something good. Then Gurvan does. Then Amari does. Then Rob does.And then all of a sudden, Keontra pops up out of nowhere and does something really well. Then there’s days when they come out there and they don’t do as well.”"

Carter discussed how he and his peers at safety have to work hard to be the starter and the special connection that he has with Hall. Whoever Banda and Baker tab to start will put the Hurricanes in good hands. All of the safeties should see playing time in 2019. It also gives Miami outstanding talent on special teams.

"“I feel like everything we go through here, nothing is easy. You need those people around you. Everyone is getting closer. Gurvan, that is like my brother. We fight. We’re there for each other when we need one another. It’s just a bond that real brothers have. We’re not related, but that’s like my brother on and off the field.When you look at it how you’re supposed to look at it, you’re competing against yourself. You’ve got to come out here every day and be better. If you’re not doing that, then you’re not making the person next to you better. So, if you [take] the day off and I’m stooping down to [your] level, the I’m going to get worse.All of us are going to get worse. It’s not just about competing against each other. It’s competing within yourself to make yourself better and the guys around you better. That’s how a team gets better.”"

Carter is ready to be a leader of the Miami secondary. He is the most experienced player the Hurricanes have at safety. Carter has been an adept special teams performer in his first two seasons. He has 38 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery in his career.

Hall confirmed Carter taking the reins as the leader of the Miami safeties.

"“We always joke around, but I look up to [Carter] as a big brother. He’s always on me. Like when I do wrong, he’ll always pull me back and lead me to the right direction.”"

The question is always is who is first team, second team, etc. Banda understands that but downplayed the importance of who is starting. He is also the Miami safeties coach.

"“I know starting is so important for you guys…and I get it. But at the end of the day, you really need to see who’s been into the game, and in the fourth quarter, who’s in the game. A guy has to start, but, at the end of the day, there might be a guy in the next series and that guy might play more…If it’s up to us, we’d have 22 starters. I mean, two-deep, now you’re rolling. And you see that with the best teams in the country, right? I mean, they’re rolling kids. You see one kid, next series another kid’s in. That’s how you get great, you know?”"

Next. Miami Hurricanes safety Amari Carter ready to become starter. dark

The depth at safety for the Miami Hurricanes reiterates what will likely happen on the field this season. Banda and Baker have the luxury of being able to use six players who will best fit the situation. How well the players are performing from series to series and game to game will dictate who plays.