At Linebacker, Miami is young but talented. Redshirt Junior Roger "Rocky" McIntosh returns as the starting strongside linebacker. McIntosh started the full slate in 2002, and according to some was Miami's best LB that year. After suffering a knee injury in the summer of 2003 he gave way to then Senior Darrell McClover. McIntosh is very physically gifted and has a nose for the ball. He should be all ACC this year. Taking over for D.J. Williams on the weakside is Tavares Gooden. Gooden starred as a DE/LB at St. Thomas Aquinas HS and chose Miami over LSU. Gooden is a true sophomore and has displayed very good instincts and athleticism during the spring, adjusting to the system very quickly. Manning the middle will either be 4th year Junior Leon Williams or Jonathon Beason. Beason (along with backup Glenn Cook) reminds many of Jonathon Vilma. Extremely instinctive player. Jon is a true sophomore and a jack of all trades. He started his miami career at Safety, than was switched to FB then suffered a season ending Injury. He has lit up Miami's spring and fall camp and is making major strides to be the starter. Jon can HIT! Leon Williams is a potentially disappointing story. He was a High School Parade All American from NY (a very rare feat for a New York HS prospect) and a physical specimen. He has backed up Jonathon Vilma for several years now and started against Louisiana Tech last year during Vilma's lingering leg problem. Leon has alot of physical ability but has continued to struggle mightily against the pass and the Veteran is very close to losing his job. Miami's concern at LB is depth. There is almost literally no depth at all. Sophomore Glenn Cook, an extremely instinctive player without much athletic ability is the top backup (besides Beason who may start) and incoming freshman Romeo Davis and James Bryant finish out the LB corps. Much heralded freshman LB Willie Williams who dominated Florida's highest level of HS competition, racking up 12 tackles (7 for a loss) and 2 sacks in the state title game and an average of 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks per regular season game he participated in will be out approximately 2 months due to a knee injury. As a HS Junior, Williams racked up 168 tackles. Eventually he should be a top 5 overall selection.
At Defensive Back, Miami is also young but talented. The corps are led by Senior All America candidate Antrel Rolle. Rolle has good height, good speed, good technique...basically everything you could want. He is a shutdown corner and held Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald to 2 catches for 14 yards. Manning the other corner position is Kelly Jennings. Jennings had a great 2002 but a down 2003. Kelly is a good cover guy but he gets swallowed up by bigger WRs as his size is problematic. Glenn Sharpe, a Junior, is coming off an ACL tear last november but has looked good and before the injury was almost as good as Rolle in my view. Sophomore Devin Hester, a converted WR will also be playing CB this year. Hester is an excellent athlete and a speed demon. He was the highest ranked HS CB coming out from Suncoast Riveira and Antrel Rolle has described him as the "best athlete ive ever seen". The Safety corps is totally replaced. Greg Threat is a good, solid, dependable Strong Safety and played very well last year. Brandon Merriweather takes over for Sean Taylor. He doesnt have Taylor's unique skills and has some tackling issues but is instinctive. Overall, this is a very good defense, albeit a bit inexperienced in places and that will hurt them at times.