Jermaine Grace: Miami Recruit Solidifies Elite Defensive Class

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Jermaine Grace: Miami Recruit Solidifies Elite Defensive Class
via ESPN

According to Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald, outside linebacker Jermaine Grace has committed to the Miami Hurricanes. Grace is listed by Rivals and ESPN as a 4-star recruit.

As a result of his signing, Grace has helped the Hurricanes solidify an elite defensive recruiting class.

Grace was a U.S. Army All-American and finished his senior season with 115 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. This is consistent with a junior year in which he posted 115 tackles, five sacks and four interceptions.

These numbers are a major reason Rivals has Grace ranked at 17th among outside linebackers. ESPN places him at 11th by position.

Overall, ESPN has Grace at No. 138 in their Top 150 prospects. Rivals ranked Grace at No. 201 overall.

In case you don't understand just yet, this young man has the upside for greatness. Miami is the perfect platform for him to prove such.

Per ESPN, Grace stands at 6'1" and 210 pounds. He ran a 4.57 40-yard dash, which was .12 seconds off of the best time of any at the outside linebacker position.

Grace is the third defensive player ranked in the ESPN 150 who signed with Miami.

With this being known, one can see why excitement is rising in reference to Al Golden's recruiting class. ESPN ranks Miami's crop of new players as the 21st-best class in the nation.

So, where is it that Grace and company improve Miami's defense most? Let's start with the pass rush.

 

Improving the Pass Rush

During the 2012-13 season, the Miami Hurricanes ranked 115th in sacks. They finished the year with a weak 13 sacks overall.

Jermaine Grace is one of the recruits who should help turn it all around.

For perspective, the Stanford Cardinal led the nation with 57 sacks overall. You can go as low as 92nd to see a team with at least 20 sacks.

In case you couldn't infer such a truth from the numbers, Miami boasts one of the worst pass rushes in the nation.

With the arrival of Grace and 4-star defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, Miami is certain to get after the quarterback. Muhammad is active with his hands and possesses a 6'3" and 230-pound frame that should terrorize ACC tackles.

Grace, meanwhile, is quick off of the edge and should be a terror along the interior.

If that's not enough for you, Grace is more than capable of dropping back into coverage. It is there that he will team with another elite recruit to aid in improving a weak pass defense.

Yet another reason ACC quarterbacks will be in trouble for years to come.

 

Dropping Back in Coverage

According to Sports-Reference.com, Miami ranked 105th in passing yards allowed per game. They also ranked 96th in first-down passing plays per game.

Fortunately, pairing Jermaine Grace with 4-star cornerback Artie Burns is a great way to improve in such an area.

As previously noted, Jermaine Grace has come up with six interceptions over his past two seasons. The Miami Hurricanes ranked 78th in 2012-13 with 11 interceptions.

Look for Burns to play a major role in improving each of the rankings previously stated.

Burns is a 6'0" corner with the potential to move to safety. He tested poorly, but is a far superior athlete to what was displayed in measurements.

His make-up speed and closing burst is nothing short of elite.

The key to Miami's defense may be 4-star athlete Jamal Carter. Depending on what position he is placed at, the 6'1" speedster will make a difference.

If he's placed at safety, his ability to create against the pass could push Miami over the top.

With Burns' ability to play the ball and Grace's threat as a dropback, the Hurricanes should improve significantly against the pass. It doesn't hurt that quarterbacks will be struggling to find time in the pocket with Al-Quadin Muhammad rushing the passer.

The question is, can they prevent the run?

 

Grace Against the Run

As previously stated, Jermaine Grace finished his senior season with 115 tackles. A major reason for this number is his ability to diagnose a play and burst through openings to make a play on the ball.

That's exactly what the nation's No. 115 rush defense is in need of.

Grace will make an instant impact on a team that struggles to do anything against the run. His lateral quickness will allow him to contain the option, while his downhill style of play will enable the Hurricanes to clog running lanes.

And it doesn't stop there.

Joining the previously listed prospects will be 3-star JUCO defensive tackle Ufomba Kamalu and late-qualifier outside linebacker Alex Figueroa. Assuming Figueroa does not make the move to tight end, Miami will have two additional players who can plug holes.

With playmakers and ball stoppers, the Hurricanes have constructed a draft class that may very well save their ailing defense. Jermaine Grace is a major reason why.

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