Oct 30, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Miami won 38-34. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 30, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Miami won 38-34. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The history of the Miami Hurricanes football program has included producing elite edge rushers. After Jaelan Phillips and Greg Rousseau were 2021 NFL first-round draft picks, the play for Miami dropped off at defensive end in 2021. Deandre Johnson tied for the Miami team lead with 8.5 tackles for loss in 2021.

Zach McCloud led Miami with 5.5 sacks this past season after moving from linebacker. Phillips led Miami with 15. TFLs and eight sacks in 2020. Quincy Roche contributed 14.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks in 2020. Phillips and Roche accomplished those numbers playing in one less game than McCloud and Johnson played in 2021.

Jahfari Harvey and Chantz Williams are likely to enter the spring as the first team DEs. Harvey had 26 tackles, 7.0 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, one pass breakup and added a pick-six at North Carolina. Williams had 14 tackles, 1.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks last season. Harvey is entering his fourth season with Miami and Williams his third.

Miami needs Harvey and Williams to step up and become impact players in 2022. If they do not continue to develop the Miami Hurricanes have players behind them who will have a chance to earn snaps. Elijah Roberts is a versatile defensive lineman who was listed behind Harvey and Williams on the depth chart at DE in 2021.

Roberts had eight tackles, 0.5 TFLs and 0.5 sacks in 2021. The new Miami Hurricanes staff will have a chance to view 2021 signees Thomas Davis and Jabari Ishmael for the first time this spring. Davis missed the 2021 season with an injury and Ishmael did not record any stats last fall. They will be pushed by new arrivals.

Nyjalik Kelly and Cyrus Moss were big four-star additions for the Miami Hurricanes at edge rusher. Kelly and Moss are the two highest-ranked players for Miami in the Class of 2022. Miami signing Kelly and Moss were huge additions after Mario Cristobal was hired as head coach last month.

Miami has already added versatile DL Jacob Lichtenstein as a transfer from USC. The Hurricanes could try to add another transfer DL. Miami is still strongly recruiting several high school DL. That includes Monsignor Pace five-star DE Shemar Stewart. Stewart could contribute immediately if he signs with Miami.

Texas A&M is the projected leader to sign Stewart next month with Georgia also strongly recruiting him. Pairing Stewart next to 2021 five-star defensive tackle signee Leonard Taylor would create difficult matchup problems for opposing defensive lines. Taylor tied Johnson for the team lead with 8.5 TFLs.

Taylor also contributed 21 tackles, two sacks and one pass breakup in limited playing time. Expected to be a starter in 2022, Taylor can have an All-American season. With Jared Harrison-Hunte also returning, Miami is strong at DT. The production from the edge rushers entering 2022 is the concern.

Miami was still able to get into opposing backfields in 2021. The Hurricanes finished ninth nationally averaging 7.75 TFLs in 2021. Miami needs to do a better job finishing off their pass rush in 2022. The Hurricanes finished 37th nationally in 2022 averaging 2.75 sacks per game.

Cristobal hired Joe Salave’a to be the Miami DL coach. Salave’a was with Cristobal with Oregon and played DT in the NFL. Oregon finished 100th in TFLs per game 104th in sacks per game in 2021. Getting more production from their edge rushers will be key in 2021. Miami still has an opening for a defensive coordinator.