The turnover chain took college football by storm last season, and Miami returns a lot of the star defensive players that summoned the Cuban link chain out of its protective box.
The Hurricanes ranked third in the country with 31 takeaways last year. That aggressiveness is what made them such a feared defense.
For those asked to take on expanded roles, they will have to uphold that standard. If they can, they will have an opportunity to make a name for themselves.
Here are three players who could break out this season:
Trajan Bandy, cornerback
Trajan Bandy is best known for his 65-yard interception return for a touchdown against Notre Dame, but the hometown kid was a great nickel cornerback for Miami in 2017. The then-freshman was just overshadowed by the other defensive backs that surrounded him.
Nearly all of those defensive backs are back this season, with the exception of Dee Delaney and Malek Young, but Bandy figures to be somebody who sports the turnover chain more than once.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound corner proved he was one of Miami’s best players in coverage, breaking up 6 passes. He also recorded 25 total tackles, 1.5 for loss.
Gerald Willis III, defensive tackle
Gerald Willis took a leave of absence from the team in 2017, but talent-wise, he may be the best defensive tackle on the roster.
The New Orleans native showed flashes of that in 2016 when he totaled 19 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections and a quarterback hurry in nine games. He was a 2014 Under Armour All-American that signed with Florida before transferring after his freshman season.
If sitting out two of the last three seasons has not affected his play, Willis could be a disruptive force in the middle of the Hurricanes defensive line.
He appears to have the right mindset to live up to the expectations he had coming out of high school in his final year of eligibility.
“Great support,” Willis said Thursday, according to The Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter. “When I first got back, they had a team meeting — I came in and everybody got on their feet and clapped. I just felt so welcome and felt so glad to be back.
“I had to get my mind right, so that I could be able to focus this year. It worked a lot. I’m a changed person, I’m a changed man. I changed a lot of ways I used to have. I think I’m a better person and I’m starting to be a better player.”
De’Andre Wilder, linebacker
De’Andre Wilder is undersized for a linebacker, but that should be mitigated with a switch to weakside linebacker. The Opa Locka, Fla., native is behind junior Michael Pinckney on the depth chart, but his athleticism will get him on the field.
The sophomore saw action 12 games last season and made 10 tackles. He has the potential to do more, ranking as the 27th-best outside linebacker in the Class of 2017 according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. He clocked a 4.5 40-yard dash during the recruiting process.
Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will find a way to utilize that speed even with all three starting linebackers returning. The transfer of Darrion Owens opens up playing time for Wilder. Owens registered 35 total tackles, 4.5 for loss, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry last season.