Miami Hurricanes striker depth chart evolving

Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /

The striker position has evolved since current head coach Manny Diaz instituted it as defensive coordinator during Miami Hurricanes spring practice in 2018. Current starting striker Gilbert Frierson was an enrollee who was a cornerback that spring. Frierson will have new competition for playing time at striker in 2021.

Keontra Smith who was the primary backup to Frierson at striker in 2020 received extensive time at linebacker this spring. Amari Carter moved from safety to striker during spring. Chase Smith was impressive as an early enrollee this spring, but it will likely be tough for the Hurricanes legacy to receive significant snaps.

Frierson was second on Miami in 2020 with 53 tackles, third with nine tackles for loss, four pass breakups and one fumble recovery and finished fifth with two sacks. Carter had with 53 tackles and added one pass breakup and two fumble recoveries. Miami is starting to recruit players with the objective of them playing striker.

Smith is the future for the Miami Hurricanes at striker. His fellow 2021 signee, James Williams was the top-ranked safety nationally. Williams would be the perfect striker at 6’5, 210 pounds. With the direction college football offenses are heading, Diaz could choose to use two strikers and one LB.

According to ESPN this week, 92 percent of the snaps in college football in 2020 teams had five or more defensive backs on the field. Teams do not use seven-man fronts as they used to. The combination of Williams and Smith in the future for Miami on the field at the same time provides versatility.

In 2021 Carter and Frierson provide different versatility. Their backgrounds as a safety and cornerback provide Miami with better pass coverage while still being able to be productive against the run. Moving Carter closer to the line of scrimmage is expected to help him and the Miami Hurricanes defense.

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Carter was called for targeting four times in 2020, two of which resulted in ejections. The other two were overturned. Miami coaches believe that Carter playing closer to the line of scrimmage can reduce targeting and that his aggressive play can help near the line of scrimmage. Striker is a position that will continue to evolve.