Mario Cristobal stated when he was first hired that creating a more physical team, particularly on the line of scrimmage was an immediate priority for the Miami football team. The majority of the snaps on the Miami defensive line this season have been by newcomers signed by Miami since Cristobal was hired.
Transfers have primarily led the way on the Miami DL. West Virginia transfer Akheem Mesidor received numerous awards this week. Mesidor leads the Miami DL with 19 tackles and six tackles for loss and is first on the team with five sacks. Defensive tackle Darrell Jackson has been a surprise after transferring from Maryland.
Jackson has 16 tackles, 2.5 TFLs and two sacks plus has been an anchor for the Miami football team versus the run at 6’6, 300 pounds. Mitchell Agude who transferred from UCLA during the 2022 offseason and holdover Jahfari Harvey have split edge rusher snaps with Mesidor who often moves inside on passing downs.
Agude has nearly matched Jackson with 13 tackles, 2.5 TFLs and two sacks. Harvey has 17, 3.5, 2.5 and one pass breakup. The addition of five new DL have pushed Chantz Williams out of the edge rusher rotation after he was expected to be a contributor this season. Freshman Nyjalik Kelly has moved ahead of Williams.
Returnees Jared Harrison-Hunte and Leonard Taylor have shared most of the snaps at DT with Jackson. Harrison-Hunte has 10 tackles and one TFL, Taylor, nine, four and 1.5. Miami needs more consistency from Taylor to live up to the five-star rating he received when signing with the Hurricanes in the 2021 class.
Several Miami DL per Pro Football Focus via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald have played sparingly. Taylor is the only 2021 signee on the Miami DL who has made an impact. Edge rusher Jabari Ismael has played four defensive snaps and defensive end Thomas Davis and tackle Allen Haye have played only four defensive snaps.
Williams has played only 59 defensive snaps. Four of the top five graded players for Miami on defense through the first six games are newcomers on the DL. Mesidor, seldom used DL Antonio Moultrie, Taylor, freshman linebacker Wesley Bissainthe and Jackson are the top five Miami defensive players through six games.
The upgrade on the Miami DL has helped the Hurricanes improve from 48th nationally allowing 3.89 yards per carry in 2021 to 12th allowing three YPC this season. Miami is also seventh nationally averaging 3.5 sacks per game and 24th averaging 6.67 TFLs per game. The new Miami DL have made a huge difference.