Of all the positions on the Miami Hurricanes football team, the one with the greatest potential for improvement is the defensive tackles. Clearly this group underachieved last season, but it was also hit with injury, illness and ill will. If they can avoid those pit falls, the interior defensive linemen could actually be pretty good for Miami.
The best of the group is junior Olsen Pierre (6-foot-4, 310 pounds), who started every game last season except for one, and was certainly the most productive statistically for Miami with 27 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three pass knockdowns and two forced fumbles. Pierre was an animal in the weight room in the off season and is now carrying a much more muscular frame. He could conceivably double his production this season.
Behind Pierre on the depth chart is undersized sophomore Corey King (6-foot-1, 290 pounds). Despite a lack of stature, King has shown a pit-bull personality on the field and makes up for his lack of size with ferocious play. He saw action in nine games last season and should be more than ready to spell Pierre late in games.
The most intriguing battle among the defensive tackles is between redshirt senior Luther Robinson (6-foot-3, 305 pounds) and senior Curtis Porter (6-foot-1, 320 pounds). Robinson was suspended for last season’s Kansas State Wildcats game after a verbal altercation with an assistant coach. Then to make matters worse, his father called a local sports radio program and called head coach Al Golden a “liar” and accused him of playing favorites. They were two unneeded and embarrassing controversies for the talented Robinson. Porter was lost for the first half of last season due to appendicitis, but returned to play exceptionally well at the end. He and Robinson are deadlocked atop the depth chart, but I expect Porter to be the starter. He is tougher against the run than Robinson, and more reliable in general. He should be a star if he can stay healthy.
Jelani Hamilton (6-foot-5, 285 pounds), listed as a defensive end, could also see some reps at defensive tackle. Hamilton has the size an athleticism to be a real nightmare for opposing centers.
Miami needs career years out of Pierre, Porter and Robinson. However, that might not be as difficult as it appears. Pierre is clearly bigger and stronger than last season. Porter is fully recovered from his appendicitis. Robinson is a year more mature. If they can stay healthy, they could make the Canes as tough in the trenches as anyone.