Miami football has big spring for young linebackers

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 11: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 11: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

This spring will be critical for the linebacker corps of the Miami football team. Bradley Jennings returns as one starter. Zach McCloud who started with Jennings in 2020 is being moved to defensive end for the 2021 season. Miami has a young LB corps ready to challenge Jennings for snaps in 2021.

Sophomore Sam Brooks is the most experienced of the returning LBs for the Miami football team besides Jennings. Brooks has played 18 games with two starts and made 55 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and two pass breakups. Brooks had 37 tackles in 2020. Freshman Corey Flagg showed promise last season.

Flagg played in eight games in 2020 finishing with 15 tackles and one fumble recovery. Flagg will compete to be the second starter at LB for the Miami football team. Redshirt freshman Avery Huff, freshman Tirek Austin-Cave and 2021 signee Deshaun Troutman will all be available for Miami this spring under a coaching change.

Jonathan Patke moved from strikers to inside LBs coach with the departure of shortlived LB coach Travis Williams. Patke has a tough task in front of him with better development needed from the Miami LB corps in 2020. Head coach Manny Diaz spoke about Austin-Cave and Huff on a Friday zoom call.

"“This is a big spring for Tirek and Avery…They simply have to learn what they’re doing out there and how to get lined up and who to look at and what’s your gap responsibility. It’s not complicated. We’ve obviously had three true freshmen start at linebacker in this scheme in the past. You have to lock in and learn it.We’re going to have a real good competition this spring. Those guys understand the urgency. Look, they’re still young players. In recruiting and the Internet, there will be a lot of pressure for a guy to get it. Guys get it at different times. They will get all the reps they can handle this spring.The one thing they both have is they can both run. Tirek, that’s what we loved about him in high school. They can both hit, but you’ve got to learn which way to run and who to hit and that’s what they’ll do this spring.”"

Huff had five tackles last season, Austin-Cave seven tackles. In addition to Troutman, Miami also signed LB Tyler Johnson in the Class of 2021 who is not an early enrollee and Thomas Davis who played LB in high school but will be an edge rusher for Miami. Learning the defense will be critical for the Miami LBs this spring.

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Diaz has taken over the defensive play calling in addition to defensive coordinator for the 2021 season. The Hurricanes third year head coach will likely be working with the defensive players more directly than he has the two previous seasons. This is a critical spring and offseason for the Miami LB unit.