football Edit

Miami football is strengthening at the linebacker position

The core of any defense is the linebacking unit. Even though most college football have switched to a 4-2-5 instead of the traditional 4-3 or 3-4, the linebacker position is still vitally important.

Miami has done well in beefing up the unit when acquiring talent for the position. In recruiting, the Miami staff added four-star Malik Bryant, four-star Bobby Washington, four-star Raul Aguirre, and three-star Marcellius Pullium (who I think should have also been rated as a four-star).

"Unbelievable athlete," said linebackers coach Derek Nicholson said of Washington. "Long, big, athletic, tough, twitchy, can run, I mean very, very, fast and very, very explosive. When he walks out on the field he sticks out like a sore thumb...obviously he's a young player and he continuely is learning what to do and when to do what and how to do what...Bobby has a very, very bright future."

Miami did well in the transfer portal and added Francisco Mauigoa and KJ Cloyd.

"Francisco is very consistent," Nicholson said. "Very instinctive, has very good awareness, really good football player, active, athletic, he does a lot of good things. It's hard to find a lot of weaknesses...he'll have great year this year."

Mauigoa is the only linebacker ranked in the top 150 according to Pro Football Focus ranking at 136th in 2022.


The linebackers already on the roster are all due to make significant jumps in 2023. Wesley Bissainthe, Keontra Smith, Corey Flagg, Jr., and Chase Smith are all linebackers expected to be in heavy rotation in 2023.

Bissainthe is the second-highest rated Miami linebacker ranking 438th overall from last season while Flagg was 478th.

Miami ranks 28th in Phil Steele's preseason individual unit rankings going into this season, which is good for sixth in the ACC behind Clemson, Florida State, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, and NC State.

All signs indicate that Miami will continue building its linebacking corps this year and beyond. Of Steele's top NFL Draft eligible players, zero Hurricanes make the list of 129 players. Miami already has two players added to its 2024 class, four-star Vincent Shavers and three-star Cameron Pruitt, and is looking to add a few more pieces to that unit. This group of young players has a chance to grow together and develop into high-level draft picks.

The work has already started to build here in the offseason, with several videos surfacing via social media of the work that young Hurricanes are putting forth. Former Miami Hurricane running back and NFL Hall of Famer Edgerrinn James feels Bryant will be a first-round draft pick. The room seems to have bulked up, and the potential grows by the week.

Miami ranks fourth overall on Steele's most improved preseason team rankings, with Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Appalachian St. ranked higher.

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