Miami football has 2 of top 4 ACC returning defensive tackles

Sep 10, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 10, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami football program has two of the top four returning defensive tackles in the ACC entering the 2023 season per Pro Football Focus grades. Returning starting DT Leonard Taylor leads ACC returnees at the position with an 87.3 grade from PPF and Thomas Gore is fourth at 84.4.

Taylor had 24 tackles, tied for the Miami football team lead with 10.5 tackles for loss, had three sacks, had one interception and six quarterback hits in 2022. Gore had 38 tackles, eight TFLs, five sacks, six QBHs and two forced fumbles for Georgia State in 2022. Gore adds athleticism and depth for Miami at DT.

Jared Harrison-Hunte is projected as the starting DT for Miami with Taylor. Louisiana-Monroe transfer Anthony Campbell, Purdue transfer Branson Deen, Gore and Jacob Lichtenstein are expected to be the primary backup DTs for Miami in 2023. Max Chadwick of PFF says Taylor has the potential to be the top DT in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Taylor was named honorable mention All-ACC in 2022. To live up the projection of being the first DT taken in the 2024 NFL Draft Taylor needs to exceed the numbers he produced in 2022 and probably earn first-team All-ACC. Athlon Sports named Taylor second-team All-ACC based on how they project he will perform in 2023.

Taylor had excellent metric numbers in 2022. Per PFF via Canes County, Taylor had a 19.5 pass-rush win rate and a 16.2 pressure rate in 2022 which was second to Calijah Kancey of Pittsburgh among interior defensive linemen in 2022. Under new defensive coordinator Lance Guidry, expect Taylor to receive more snaps.

Next. PFF names Leonard Taylor top 10 returning interior DL. dark

Clemson and Virginia Tech are the only programs in the ACC with two interior DL in the top 10 returning in 2023. Miami hosts Clemson on October 18. Miami and Virginia Tech will not play this season for the first time since 1991. If Taylor can become a dominant DL, the Miami defense should have significant improvement.