Reserve Miami football DL have opportunities to prove themselves during spring

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 03: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 03: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With defensive linemen, Akeem Mesidor, Jahfari Harvey, Leonard Taylor and Jared Harrison-Hunte out for all or part of spring practice the rest of the reserves for the Miami football program have an opportunity to earn valuable snaps. Those four could be the projected 2023 Miami starting defensive line.

Harvey led Miami the Miami football team with 7.5 tackles for loss in 2022, Mesidor was top with seven sacks, Taylor’s six quarterback hits were the most on the team and Harrison-Hunte hopes to rebound from an injury-plagued 2022 season. Freshmen, transfers and young returnees will earn more reps because of the injuries.

New Miami defensive coordinator Lance Guidry stated on Tuesday in his first interaction with Miami reporters that he will rotate the depth chart and make players fight for positions every day this fall. The DL should be one of the deepest positions on the 2023 Miami roster. Miami will have a new look on the DL.

In addition to Guidry, Jason Taylor has been promoted from defensive analyst to line coach. Taylor will team with Joe Salave’a but has reportedly been leading the drills on the DL through the first two spring practices. Rising sophomore Nyjalik Kelly could be the DL to watch this spring. The Miami Herald quoted Guidry.

"“We’ve got some defensive linemen out right now, probably four of the starters on paper…We’ll add them in the summer when they’re healthy. The good thing is the guys that are backups fighting for jobs are getting all the reps right now, so you’re really building depth, which is a good thing.In the fall, when we have more people battling for jobs, we’ll fight for the starting job every day. We’re not going to wait for a scrimmage. Every day we’re going to adjust the depth chart and fight for positions every day. It’s the only way I know how to do it. In the fall you’ll probably see a lot of interchanging of the ones.”"

Kelly was impactful in limited playing time as a true freshman in 2022 with 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Transfer defensive tackles Branson Deen and Thomas Gore will also have a chance to earn key spots in the rotation with Harrison-Hunte and Taylor out this spring. Deen and Gore were productive in 2022.

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Deen had 28 tackles, four TFLs and 2.5 sacks for Purdue last season. In 2021 with the Boilermakers Deen had 26 tackles, 9.5 TFLs and three sacks. Gore had 44 tackles, 9.0 TFLs and 2.5 sacks in 2021 and 38, 8.0 and 5.0 with two forced fumbles last season. Expect the Miami football team to rotate their DL often in 2023.