Miami football changing from striker to star defensive back/linebacker hybrid

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 20: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 20: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Miami football program changing from the striker position used under Manny Diaz to a star under new co-defensive coordinators Kevin Steele and Charlie Strong makes sense to remain to utilize a hybrid defensive back/linebacker position. Miami previously ran what was considered a 4-2-5 defense.

Steele runs a more traditional 4-3. Georgia uses a star position. New Miami defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae coached at Georgia last season. Gilbert Frierson who was a striker the last two seasons played the star position during the first week of spring practice according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Jackson also reported that Al Blades Jr. who has been a CB throughout his Miami football career also worked at star this past week. The most natural player for the star position would be safety James Williams. Williams has the size and skill set to play a hybrid of DB and LB at 6’5, 224 pounds.

Williams had 31 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions in 2021. Another player to watch is Chase Smith. Smith was moved to striker last season but is a natural LB. Smith is 6-2, 210 pounds. The official Miami football roster lists Smith at 6’2, 210. Smith was projected as a LB or safety when he signed in 2021.

Jackson reported that Frierson has worked some at SAM linebacker. The SAM position is frequently substituted or eliminated when teams use a hybrid position. Frierson has picked up the position pretty quickly according to Steele. With 11 Miami defensive players out this spring, Steele faces a challenge installing a new defense.

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One of the Miami players missing spring is starting safety Kam Kinchens. Williams and Avantael Williams have received the majority of snaps at safety this spring. Brian Balom has returned from injury to back them up. Miami also has Keshaun Washington and four-star 2022 signed Markeith Williams arrives this summer.