Miami football depth chart: greatly improved LB corps

Sep 3, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami football team is expected to have improved linebacker play in 2023. Washington State transfer Francisco Mauigoa improves the size for Miami at LB at 6’3 and 230 pounds. Mauigoa will start at middle LB. Sophomore Wesley Bissainthe and Louisville transfer K.J. Cloyd are competing to be the other starting LB.

The Miami football team returns Corey Flagg who has been a two-year starter at MLB, Chase Smith, who is recovering from an injury but is expected to be ready to begin the season and Keontra Smith to add depth. Flagg led Miami in tackles in 2021 and tied for the team lead with 10.5 tackles for loss in 2022.

Mauigoa had a breakout season at Washington State in 2022 with 60 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, one interception he returned 95 yards for a touchdown, one pass breakup, one fumble recovery and three forced fumbles. Mauigoa is expected to provide Miami with a presence at MLB they haven’t had since Shaq Quarterman.

Bissainthe had 30 tackles as a true freshman in 2022. Cloyd had 40 tackles, 0.5 TFLs, 2.0 passes defended and one fumble recovery in three seasons at Louisville. The Miami coaching staff is high on Cloyd’s potential. One Miami defensive staffer spoke to the Miami Herald and analyzed each position, including LBs.

"“I think we’ve upgraded. If Wesley [Bissainthe] plays the way he’s capable of playing, that would be big. KJ Cloyd makes Bissainthe a better player, because he has really pushed Wesley…Cloyd has been getting a lot of reps. He’s in the right spots, doesn’t make mental mistakes. Sometimes it takes four years with a guy for the light to go on.Francisco [Mauigoa] will help us because of his size [6-3]. He’s got a nose for the ball. Opponents were able to scheme against 5-11 Corey Flagg Jr. and get him matched up against much bigger guards. Mauigoa should be able to win some of those matchups more often.(And) Keontra Smith has to hold up against the run…But he’s had a good camp and he’s solid in coverage. [Freshman] Bobby Washington has flashed.”"

Miami signed LBs Raul Aguirre, Malik Bryant, Marcellius Pulliam and Bobby Washington in the 2023 class. Bryant is the highest rated LB in the 2023 Miami class. Washington has received the most consensus praise among the Miami freshmen LBs. Miami has made upgrading the LB play a priority in the 2023 and 2024 classes.

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Duke transfer Rocky Shelton adds experience and is expected to be a contributor on special teams. Becoming bigger and more physical team is a priority for Mario Cristobal and the Miami staff. The additions of Cloyd, Mauigoa and the freshmen should significantly improve the LB play for Miami in 2023.