Miami Hurricanes DL Coach Jess Simpson expects Leonard Taylor role to grow

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 /

Despite not being on the two-deep depth chart against Alabama the Miami Hurricanes coaching staff expects five-star freshman defensive tackle Leonard Taylor to be an important part of the rotation this season. Taylor has improved with each practice during training camp according to defensive line coach Jess Simpson.

Fifth-year senior Jon Ford, third-year redshirt freshman Jared Harrison-Hunte and fourth-year junior in eligibility Nesta Jade Silvera were listed as the co-starters and second-team defensive tackles for Miami against Alabama on Saturday. Fourth-year redshirt sophomore Jordan Miller is currently fourth in the Miami DT rotation.

There are no guarantees how many snaps Taylor receives against Alabama. The key for Taylor or any freshman defensive lineman earning playing time when playing for Simpson is how well they anticipate and communicate. Against a great team like Alabama, the little details are critical to have any chance at an upset.

With the Miami Hurricanes depth at DT, Taylor will have to work his way into the rotation. Simpson expects Taylor to have an increasing role throughout the season. Taylor brings exceptional athleticism at 6’3, 305 pounds to the interior of the Miami defensive line. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald quoted Simpson.

"“His busts and mental errors have dropped each practice…He’s playing arguably the deepest position on our team in defensive tackle. Over the course of the season, I would be shocked if his role didn’t grow. His athleticism, his strength, he’s got special attributes for sure.”"

Taylor was the 11th ranked player nationally, fourth-ranked DL and third in Florida in the Class of 2021 according to the 247 Sports composite rankings. Signing Taylor was a huge achievement for Manny Diaz and the Miami football staff. Taylor and fellow five-star signee James Williams will anchor the future Miami defense.

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Opening with Alabama does not provide Simpson a chance to ease Taylor into college football. Miami plays Appalachian State, Michigan State and Central Connecticut State the three weeks after Alabama. Depending on how competitive the next two weeks are, Taylor might not see his first significant playing time until CCSU.