It’s debatable whether or not “The U” is “back”.
“Back” is a relative term.
But the University of Miami and its players are back to receiving recognition and accolades for their talent.
Three Hurricanes were selected to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference preseason football team, the conference announced Tuesday.
Senior defensive backs Michael Jackson and Jaquan Johnson, along with junior middle linebacker Shaquille Quarterman were all considered among the best players in the ACC.
The Canes were given a huge Christmas gift this past December when Johnson announced, before the team played in the Capital One Orange Bowl, that he would be returning for his senior season.
To say Johnson had a “breakout year” in 2017 would be a substantial understatement. The Miami Killian High School product proved that he was one of the best safeties in college football this past season. Johnson led Miami with 96 total tackles and tied for a team-high with four interceptions.
Johnson was also named a second-team All-American by Sports Illustrated and the AFCA while finishing as a semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.
If Johnson’s decision to return to Coral Gables for another year was the main course, head coach Mark Richt getting a pledge from Jackson was the gravy on top.
The physical 6-foot-1 cornerback enjoyed his best season as a Hurricane in 2017. His first year as a full-time starter, Jackson tied with Johnson for a team-best four inceptions while also recording 43 tackles and five pass breakups.
Jackson, who became a father this past spring, was also an All-ACC second-teamer a year ago and will be looking to show pro scouts that his 2017 performance was no fluke and that he has all the skills needed to be an early draft pick.
While Jackson and Johnson are the elder statesmen and legitimate leaders on the Canes defense, its Quarterman who is – literally – the centerpiece of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s defense.
Since he arrived in Coral Gables, Quarterman has been a dominant force at middle linebacker for the Hurricanes.
He’s started all 26 games – being named a Freshman All-American two years ago and a second-team All-ACC selection as a sophomore – and has racked up 167 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, six passes defended and two fumble recoveries over that span.