Miami Hurricanes defensive end depth chart entering summer

Nov 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Replacing defensive ends Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche is the biggest task for the Miami Hurricanes coaching staff entering the 2021 season. Zach McCloud’s move from linebacker to DE and the addition of DeAndre Johnson as a transfer from Tennessee project as the starting edge rushers for Miami in 2021.

Behind Johnson and McCloud Miami does not have a lot of experience. Jahfari Harvey, Thomas Davis, a 2021 signee, Cameron Williams, Chantz Williams and Quentin Williams will compete for snaps. Elijah Roberts is a swing defensive lineman who can play tackle and end. Davis, the Williams and Roberts are the future.

Johnson and McCloud are the present for Miami. In the five seasons, Manny Diaz had led the Hurricanes defense, Miami has continually had one of the best defensive lines in the country. Miami finished fourth nationally with 8.64 tackles for loss in 2020 and 17th in sacks with 3.25 per game.

Phillips and Roche combined for 30 TFLs and 12.5 sacks in 2020. Miami returns 65 TFLs and 13.5 sacks from 2020. Striker Gilbert Frierson leads Miami returnees with nine tackles for loss and linebacker Bradley Jennings with three sacks in 2020. Diaz and DL coach Jess Simpson have the task of developing the DE for 2021.

In eight games with Tennessee last season, Johnson had 28 tackles, 6.0 TFLs and 4.5 sacks playing outside LB in the Volunteers 3-4 defense. Johnson will play DE in the Miami 4-3. The experience Johnson gained as an edge rusher, albeit in a slightly different position, will help him with the Miami Hurricanes.

McCloud had 1.5 TFLs and four QB pressures on 22 pass-rushing snaps in his first game playing DE for Miami in the Cheeze-it Bowl loss to Oklahoma State in December. Harvey is the most experienced of the returning DL for Miami other than McCloud. In 2020, Harvey had 16 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and one sack.

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Roberts and the three Williams combined for 18 tackles and two TFLs in 2020. Harvey has the potential to be the breakout player among the Miami edge rushers in 2020. Chantz Williams is another player to watch. Williams was the seventh-ranked weakside DE in the Class of 2020. In his second season, Williams can make an impact.