Could Zach McCloud move to DE signal 2021 return to Miami football

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 06: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 06: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Could a move from defensive end to linebacker mean that redshirt senior Zach McCloud will return to the Miami football program in 2021?

During a Zoom Meeting with reporters on Saturday head coach Manny Diaz communicated the surprising news that redshirt senior linebacker Zach McCloud has been practicing at defensive end in preparation for the Cheez-it Bowl against Oklahoma State on Tuesday. The Miami football team is short edge-rushing depth.

Graduate transfer DEs Quincy Roche and redshirt junior Jaelan Phillips opted out of the Cheeze-it bowl to get ready for the NFL Draft. Behind Roche and Phillips Miami is extremely inexperienced at DE. McCloud is lacking experience as an edge rusher, but he would at least give Miami a player who has played extensive snaps on defense.

McCloud redshirted in 2019 after playing in four games to get more playing time this season. After starting from 2016-19, McCloud lost playing time to striker Romeo Finley. Other than 2019, McCloud produced career-low averages with 25 tackles and two tackles for loss. McCloud has tied a career-high with two sacks.

McCloud has 162 tackles, 15.0 TFLs, 5.5 sacks and four pass breakups in what is essentially four seasons. At 6’3 235 pounds, McCloud is five pounds less than redshirt freshman Cameron Williams who is listed at 6’4 240 pounds. Diaz believes that McCloud could have a future at DE.

"“Believe it or not, I think Zach’s got a future at defensive end…watching what he’s done this week in practice where he can just kind of go and come off the edge and have low pads.”"

The question is does that mean that McCloud is returning to Miami for a sixth season or is his future at DE in the NFL? McCloud has the option to return to Miami next season with the NCAA granting an extra season of eligibility to all fall sports athletes. Could Diaz be tipping off that McCloud will play DE in the Cheez-It Bowl?

Next. Miami fanbase and QB history led to D'Eriq King return. dark

Miami has not released a depth chart for the Cheez-it bowl yet. The likelihood is that Williams will start at DE with redshirt freshman Jahfai Harvey. Redshirt sophomore Patrick Joyner and freshman Chantz Williams will likely be the third edge rusher for Miami. Miami could look to the transfer portal for a DE to add to the 2021 roster.