Miami Football: Who's the Next Great Hurricane Defensive Back?
The Miami Hurricanes Football program has a rich tradition of defensive backs making an impact in college football and the NFL. Names like Sean Taylor, Antrel Rolle, Ed Reed, Duane Starks, Phillip Buchanon and up and coming players like Sam Shields and Bruce Johnson are all building a tradition of strong DB play at Miami.
Some of these players have blossomed in college and had average pro careers, while others were decent producers in college and excelled when they got to the NFL. Mike Rumph is a prime example of a player who was a star defensive back at Miami, but when he got to the NFL he struggled. That doesn't diminish his contributions to the University of Miami during his time there.
The question remains, who is going to be the next great defensive back to come out of The U?
Some information on players taken from the following websites:
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Tyrone Cornileus—Freshman (6'2", 195 Lbs)
Tyrone Cornileus is a converted linebacker who switched to DB because he had trouble putting on weight. He enrolled in January 2010 at Miami and was ranked the No. 39 outside linebacker prospect in the nation by Rivals.com and three-star recruit by Scout.com. He finished his senior season with 108 tackles, an interception, two forced fumbles, two blocked punts and eight tackles for loss, while helping lead Stephenson to an 11-1 record and the second round of the playoffs.
As a junior, he tallied 118 tackles, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), two forced fumbles (one returned for a score), four sacks, 11 tackles for losses, a blocked punt and three safeties. Named a first-team All-State selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Associated Press No. 28 player on the AJC Top 50 List.
Brandon McGee, Junior—(6'0", 190 lbs)
In 2010, McGee played in 11 games, starting the season opener against Florida A&M. He recorded 15 tackles on the year with two pass breakups. He had his best game against Pittsburgh and was one of the top cornerback prospects in the country coming out of high school.
McGee has shown flashes of being a dominant player and was one of three true freshman to appear in double digit games for the Hurricanes during the 2009 season. McGee has the speed to be a shut down corner, and has all of the tools to turn into a top tier defensive back.
Thomas Finnie, Freshman—(5'10", 170 lbs.)
A graduate of Miami's Central High School, Finnie was a three-star prospect and rated as the nation's No. 39 cornerback. He will be on campus and in classes at UM this week. This fall for the state champions, the 5'10", 170-pounder tallied 45 tackles and recorded one interception as a high school senior.
Finnie originally committed to South Carolina, but settled with Miami after he met with Al Golden and his staff. He has been clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash and was a track star in high school where he finished second in the state in the 100-yard dash. Miami Central defeated Dr. Phillips high school to the win the 2010 Florida State 6A Championship.
Finnie has the potential to be a great player, but it is too early to tell how he is going to develop.
Keion Payne, Redshirt Freshman—(5'10", 185 lbs)
Payne came to the Hurricanes after being named to the All-Broward third team by the Miami Herald and All-Broward honorable mention by the Sun Sentinel. He was rated as the No. 19 cornerback and four-star recruit by Scout.com, the No. 29 cornerback prospect by Rivals.com and No. 72 prospect on the Bill Buchalter's Florida Top 100 State List.
As a senior in high school, he had three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and was part of a Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas secondary that allowed opponents an average of only 100.7 passing yards per game. His 33 recorded tackles, 14 passes broken up and four interceptions as a junior at Dillard High School showed the versatility and potential of Payne at the next level.
Payne has bulked up in his redshirt year at Miami, as he came to the Hurricanes weighing about 168 lbs., but he is now in the 180 pound range and runs a solid 4.46 40-yard dash. He has great ball skills and consistently shows the ability to make plays in the secondary, but will need to work on his speed and quickness to better handle quicker and faster wide receivers. Payne is rumored to be suspended for the first game of the season next year, but no reason has been given for the suspension.
This is not a good display of leadership for Payne, and he will need to mature a bit before he can be considered great because off the field is just as important as on the field.
Ray Ray Armstrong, Junior—(6'4", 215 lbs)
In 2010, Ray Ray Armstrong was third on the team in tackles with 79 and recorded a team-high tying three interceptions for the Hurricanes. Armstrong contributed 4.5 tackles for loss, and scored one of the team's two defensive touchdowns with a 22-yard interception return against Florida A&M.
Armstrong was one of the prize recruits of the Randy Shannon era a five-star recruit blessed with that rare combination of size and speed. Armstrong was ranked the No. 2 prospect in the state of Florida in 2009, and has played a lot during his Miami career. He is now poised for his junior year to make the type of impact many have expected of him when he signed with the Hurricanes.
Jamal Reid, Sophomore—(6'0", 192 lbs)
Jamal Reid came in as a highly-touted recruit who played mostly wide receiver in high school and participated in the Under Armor All-Star game his senior year. When Reid arrived at Miami, he was redshirted and decided to play cornerback instead of wideout, but Reid did not play much in 2010.There seems to be too much talent on the roster ahead of him for him to see any playing time soon.
Vaughn Telemaque, Junior—(6'2", 200 lbs)
In the 2010 season, Telemaque was one of seven 'Canes to start all 13 games, he was fourth on the team with 59 tackles. Telemaque tied for the team lead in interceptions with three and he led the team with three fumble recoveries. Telemaque was also awarded the Nick Chickillo Most Improved Player award by the team.
Telemaque has an aggressive nose for the ball, and is also great in run support, something you can't say about a lot of DB's. He has been one of the most consistent players for the Hurricanes since he started playing at Miami; Telemaque has started to emerge as the emotional leader on defense. In a game against North Carolina last season when the Hurricanes were struggling to put away the Tar Heels, Telemaque went over and challenged the players on offense to score.
He was so adamant about it that Hurricanes offensive coordinator Mark Whipple started to bark back at Telemaque. That kind of passion hasn't been displayed by a player since Ed Reed.
The Next Great Hurricanes Defensive Back Will Be: Ray Ray Armstrong
Ray Ray Armstrong is going to be the next great Hurricane defensive back because he has the size, speed and athleticism that reminds us all of Sean Taylor. Armstrong is also not scared to mix it up in the running game and put hits on receivers to make them think twice about catching the football. Armstrong has one thing holding him back, conditioning, but new Hurricanes defensive backs coach Paul Williams says that will be resolved soon.
Armstrong is a freak and has already taken on a leadership role getting teammates lined up and in the right position to make plays. This will be a breakout year for Armstrong because he will get the coaching he needs to make him realize his full potential and be the next great defensive back to come through Miami.