The Hurricanes suddenly has an influx of defensive lineman that could provide a major boost to a unit that was heavily lacking a season ago.
Miami added defensive ends David Gilbert and Justin Renfrow this past offseason who both played football in major Division I conferences. Gilbert was a starter on for a Wisconsin team that won three straight Big Ten conference titles and Renfrow saw action at Virginia. Miami also added up junior college transfer Ufomba Kamalu and four-star defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad.
Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio may finally have a true rotation of defensive linemen. The Hurricanes’ lack of depth on the defensive line was a major issue last season. It was a big reason why Miami only managed 13 sacks as a team over 12 games, which ranked 115th in the country. These new additions specialize in pass rushing and should greatly boost the Hurricanes’ front line.
Muhammad was ranked as one of the top ten defensive ends in the nation according to ESPN and Rivals.com. He made 64 tackles, 12 sacks and four forced fumbles during his senior season at Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey. He then added 1.5 sacks in the U.S. Army American Bowl. Miami has been lacking a speed rusher off the edge and Muhammad could provide that right away as a freshman.
Transfers Gilbert and Renfrow are able to play right away for the Hurricanes because they graduated from their previous schools. Renfrow appeared in all 12 games a season ago for Virginia, recording 11 tackles. Gilbert was a 2012 honorable mention All-Big Ten and had four sacks along with 9.5 tackles a year ago for Wisconsin. He is still recovering from a foot injury he suffered during his junior season but showed great potential while playing for the Badgers.
Kamalu comes in as a transfer from Butler Community College in Kansas and provides much versatility to Miami’s defensive line. He stands as a giant at 6-foot-6, 285 pounds and can play either defensive end or tackle. He recorded 14 tackles and 7.5 sacks in junior college.
These new additions add depth to a line that already includes sophomore Tyriq McCord, junior Anthony Chickilo, and junior Olsen Pierre. McCord adds great speed to go along with Muhammad. He mostly played in pass rushing situations a year ago but had 3.5 sacks last season to go along with 15 tackles as a true freshman.
Chickilo started every game a season ago but currently sits behind Pierre on the depth chart. Chickilo only recorded four sacks in 2012 after recording five as a freshman. Pierre moves over from tackle to end after recording 1.5 sacks last season. Both players should be able to stay fresh this season thanks to the newly added depth on the defensive line.
Added depth, weight, and speed along with another year of experience should make Miami’s defense much better than it was in 2012. If it is, Miami could be looking at a trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship game come December.