The Miami football program lost several key leaders after last season. One of the primary focuses this spring will be on creating new leaders.
The Miami football program returns four starters on offense and seven on defense in 2019. Several key positions need to develop new leaders. The only position that’s exempt is at linebacker. All three Miami LBs and striker Romeo Finley return in 2019.
N’Kosi Perry has a lot of growth to do if he is going to hold off Rising Redshirt Freshman Jarren Wiliams and Rising Redshirt Sophomore Tate Martell at quarterback. Perry’s maturity and leadership abilities were lacking in 2018.
On the offensive line, the Miami football team returns rising Junior guard Navaughn Donaldson and rising Sophomore tackle Delone Scaife. They lost multiple year starters Tyree St. Louis and Tyler Gauthier. New offensive line coach Butch Barry has a tough job ahead of him this spring and during August training camp.
Tommy Kennedy who is a Graduate Transfer from Butler played with the second team during the first week of spring practice. He is the elder statesman of the Miami offensive line.
Manny Navarro said on the Miami flagship station WQAM this week he expects Kennedy to be on the first team by the time the Hurricanes open against Florida in August. Miami needs him to be the leader of the offensive line this fall.
K.J. Osborn who is Miami’s second Grad Transfer on offense has made a big impact on what is, for the most part, a young and inexperienced Miami receiving corps. DeeJay Dallas has been a leader before he began his college career and is ready to take the mantle at running back from Travis Homer.
Returning Rising Junior wide receiver Mike Harley spoke to the Sun Sentinel’s Christy Chirinos about the impact that Osborn has made with him and his teammates. Osborn and Harley should be the leaders of the receiving corps in 2019.
“That’s what we needed, that leadership,” Harley said of Osborn, a former standout at Buffalo who transferred to Miami in January and has quickly emerged as a veteran presence on the Hurricanes’ offense. “Without him coming in, it was just me and Evidence [Njoku] and Jeff Thomas. We would have been the older guys.
But it’s a great feeling to have that older guy that’s been there for like four, five years. He’s teaching us knowledge. He’s pushing us more. … He’s a big brother to me and the rest of the guys.”
The defensive side of the ball linebackers Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud will be the leaders of the defense. Miami has to replace half of their defensive line, both safeties and cornerback Michael Jackson.
Returning CB Trajan Bandy will have a big job leading an extremely inexperienced secondary. Developing leaders during the spring will be critical. Having those leaders heading into the remainder of the 2019 offseason lays the seeds for the season.
Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Ephraim Banda helped develop departed safeties Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine. Johnson was Miami’s leading tackler the last two seasons and the leader of the defense.
Banda discussed developing new leaders with Chirinos after practice on Friday.
“We’re in practice three. That’s what this is about. We’re trying to see who can really do that. Even if you are Shaq [Quarterman] or you’re [Mike] Pinckney, you still have to learn how to restart the whole thing after every year.
And you’ve got learn how to lead better. So we’re still looking…Obviously, the first two that come up are Shaq and Pinckney. Those are the two we’re going to look at right away and they’re doing a good job. I think they’re really enjoying this, the way we’re doing things now. So, for sure, those two. But on the back end, we’re obviously young.
I’d like to see Trajan Bandy step up his overall leadership and see his growth. That’s something I’d like to see. I’d like to see Amari Carter try to do that. But that’s for them to do. You can’t push that.”
The secondary is going to have to be developed if the Miami football team is going to continue their excellence defensively that they have had in three years under Diaz. Baker and Banda will be in charge. Diaz has said he is not going to call the defense like his predecessor Mark Richt called the offense.
The New Miami will be more indicative on the field on defense and off the field with an all-new coaching staff on offense. There is a lot of optimism in Coral Gables for 2019, but still a lot of work to be done in the next five months.