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Quarterman, Pinckney Leading ‘Canes

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Literally and figuratively, Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney are poised to be the centerpieces of another great Miami unit.

Miami will, once again, have one of college football's best defenses. Veteran linebackers Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney are two reasons why. Standouts at the start of their careers, both players have developed into all-conference talents, working hard to return the program they love to the place it belongs. Quarterman and Pinckney are back to lead a unit that ranked fourth in the nation in total defense a year ago. They are chasing a championship and securing their legacies alike.

To date, Quarterman and Pinckney have combined for 452 career tackles, 60.5 tackles for loss, 21 sacks, 26 quarterback hurries, 14 pass breakups and four interceptions. The examples they have set go well beyond the box score. 

One of the nation's most dynamic defensive duos, Quarterman and Pinckney have taken similar paths to prominence. A pair of First Coast-natives who enrolled in January of 2016, started right away and earned Freshman All-American honors, passion and persistence have paid off for both. Quarterman and Pinckney each had an opportunity to go to the NFL after last season, chances they turned down in favor of unfinished business in Coral Gables. Started with game one against Florida, big picture goals are within reach.   

This summer, Quarterman and Pinckney are two All-American candidates for the likely favorite in the ACC Coastal Division.

Quarterman's consistency has been quite remarkable as his three college seasons have resulted in 84, 83 and 82 tackles, respectively. After being named second, then third-team the two seasons prior, he earned first-team All-ACC honors a year and should be a fixture on upcoming pre-season squads. Athletic, instinctive and physical, Quarterman, with 39 career starts, can play anywhere in the middle of the field. His tenacity has helped set the tone for Miami's defensive identity.  

The speed and versatility Pinckney, honorable-mention all-conference in consecutive years, brings to the field comes with various schematic options for the Hurricanes. A sure tackler and effective in coverage, he is a rare every down and every situation defender. Pinckney's range, sideline-to-sideline, with the ability to also burst into the offensive backfield, is what sets him apart. A read-and-react talent, Pinckney is fluid at the snap. 

Just a single ACC defender this millennium has reached at least 300 total tackles with 40 tackles for loss and ten sacks in career: Miami great Sean Spence. Both Quarterman, first, and Pinckney are within range.  

Literally and figuratively, Quarterman and Pinckney are poised to be the centerpieces of another great Miami unit. They are part of the foundation of their former defensive coordinator's first full team. Expecations are high for the Hurricanes and the return of Quarterman and Pinckney ensure that more defensive dominance is on the way. Before the NFL, for these two, awaits the start of a new era and the finish of two great careers. On the famed "Turnover Chain", Quarterman and Pinckney are two critical links.  

Quarterman and Pinckney are more than just leaders for Manny Diaz, they are, notably, followers, striving to be continuations of one of the great linebacker lineages college football has ever seen.

Miami is the type of program where what-has-been is the greatest inspiration for what-could-be. Here, history is the ultimate measure. Two star linebackers are moving their way up the charts.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports