Jess Simpson who returned as defensive line coach after two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons stated during his (re)introductory press conference on National Signing Day that the Miami Hurricanes want athletic tackles. Miami is not looking for the space eater old school defensive tackles.
The Miami Hurricanes built their program on speed and athletic players. Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Sapp was one of the first truly athletic DTs playing for the Hurricanes in the 1990s. Most of the interior DL on the Miami roster are athletic. Senior Jon Ford is the more traditonal DT at 6’5 318 pounds.
Redshirt freshman Jared Harrison-Hunte and junior Nesta Silvera are more the athletic players that fit the Miami system defensively. Miami will be deep at DT in 2021 with everyone back on the defensive interior and the additions of five-star Leonard Taylor and three-star Allan Haye as 2021 signees.
Sophomore Jordan Miller and redshirt freshmen Jalar Holley and Jason Blissett are the returness for Miami who give exceptional depth at DT. Freshman Elijah Roberts will provide the Hurricanes with versatility to play anywhere on the DL. Simpson was quoted by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald what Miami is looking for on the DL.
"“I’m looking for athletes…We are looking for guys that can run out of their stance, play with great fundamentals. We want to tackle in the backfield and attack the quarterback. We want athletic three techniques [defensive tackles with] length [and] speed on the edges. It’s about being disruptive.When I was here we were No. 1 in TFL’s [tackles for loss]. That speaks to the style of play up front. We are vertical penetrators.”"
Harrison-Hunte was the best interior defensive lineman for Miami before missing the last three games of the regular season with an injury. In eight games played in 2020, Harrison-Hunte had 17 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks and one forced fumble. Silvera led the Miami DTs with 37 tackles, eight TFLs and had one sack.
Taylor will be a major force for the Hurricanes. As a freshman, Taylor will have to earn his way into the rotation. The depth Miami has at DT should help ease any pressure on Taylor as a true freshman. More of a challenge for Miami in 2021 will be replacing All-ACC defensive ends Jaelan Philips and Quincy Roche.
Phillips and Roche will be first or second day selections in the NFL Draft. Graduate transfer DeAndre Johnson and redshirt freshman Jahfari Harvey are projected to start at DE for Miami. Continuing to get into opposing backfields and pressuring the QB is important for the defense in the Miami system.