Mark Richt: 'We might be the only team in America doing that'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday September 01, 2016

Mark Richt dropped a startling realization while on WQAM on Thursday: There’s a good shot that Miami starts three true freshmen linebackers.

The depth chart released this week includes Zach McCloud at SAM, Shaq Quarterman at MIKE and Michael Pinckney as a co-starter at WILL with redshirt freshman Jamie Gordinier.

This comes after last year’s leading tackler, linebacker Jermaine Grace, was dismissed last weekend.

The chance of us starting three true freshman linebackers is pretty strong right now. That might be the only team in America doing that,” Richt said Thursday. “But they’re talented guys, and they have had all spring, summer and fall. Once they get over the butterflies of being a major college football player, I think they’ll be OK.”

Without having the depth chart of every team, I’d venture to agree that Miami would be the only team with an entire starting linebacker corps of true freshmen. The Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter reports it’s likely the first time in school history.

All three true freshmen were among the top 20 at their positions in the recruiting rankings, and all three did enroll in the spring, so there’s a little more experience in Richt’s and Manny Diaz’s systems — just not in games. Diaz said Wednesday that “nothing’s changed” in terms of guys’ roles. But the reality is the dismissal of two top defenders leaves Miami thin in the front seven. There are zero seniors in the front seven two-deep, compared to an all-senior starting defensive backfield.

“It’ll be tougher to have an injury here and there,” Richt said. “You go into the season with enough quality depth, you can take a guy getting banged up missing a game or two. But if you get thin before you start and then something happens, it really makes it tough. When your numbers get down, the guys there are probably getting more reps in practice than you’d like them to get, so they start to get worn down.”

The Canes open against Florida A&M and FAU, followed by a trip to Appalachian State, a bye and a trip to Georgia Tech.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to