Miami Hurricanes 2020 LB depth improved over 2019

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 24:(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 24:(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Miami Hurricanes linebacker depth has improved over 2019 with veterans getting healthy and the signing of a pair of freshmen with bright futures.

The Miami Hurricanes were thin at linebacker in 2019. Injuries and the decision by senior Zach McCloud to redshirt last season depleted the depth at LB last season. The return of McCloud as a redshirt senior in 2020, veterans getting healthy and the addition of a pair of freshmen signees have improved the LB depth this season.

McCloud leads an athletic LB unit for the Miami Hurricanes in 2020. The task for the redshirt Senior in 2020 is to replace former classmate Shaq Quarterman at middle LB. McCloud formerly played the strongside LB role for Miami before the addition of the striker position took playing time away from him.

The loss of playing time led McCloud to approach the Hurricanes coaching staff last season volunteering to redshirt. The decision to redshirt McCloud in 2019 was critical to setup his return in 2020 to provide Miami with experience at a position that would not have had any without his presence this season.

The starting position at WLB next to McCloud is 2020 has been competitive in training camp according to head coach Manny Diaz following the Hurricanes first scrimmage on Sunday night. Diaz discussed the play of the LBs in a video released by the Miami Athletic Department on Sunday night.

"“I first have to point out Bradley Jennings and Waynmon Steed, both coming off injuries, both made a lot of good things happen. But then you mention [Sam] Brooks, [Avery] Huff, and Corey Flagg and Tirek Austin-Cave, Flagg and Cave, they left their mark a few times on some big hits. It’s fun.We’ve got a great competition at linebacker, and not even to mention Zach McCloud, we’ve got a lot of guys that have been getting in play and that competition is far from over.”"

Brooks is the favorite to emerge as the starter next to McCloud in 2020. As a true freshman in his first bowl game last season, Brooks recorded 12 tackles starting in place of Michael Pinckney as the Hurricanes lost the Independence Bowl 14-0 to Louisiana Tech. Jennings, Steed and Patrick Joyner are ready to contribute in 2020.

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Joyner like Jennings and Steed as Diaz mentioned is returning from a season-ending injury in 2020. All three had potentially career-threatening injuries but have worked hard to return this season to add depth at LB. All the Miami LBs except McCloud have eligibility remaining after this season. The future at LB is bright for Miami.