OBB ’22 Position Preview: Safety

Throughout the history of Miami football one thing has remained. The safety position has long been a room that features some of the best to ever wear a Hurricane uniform . From Bennie Blades, to Ed Reed, to Sean Taylor, Antrel Rolle and recent stars like Jaquan Johnson, it’s always been a position with great pride. There will always be a burden to carry on the legacy of those who have come before them. Shadows loom large in the secondary.

This upcoming year has a mix of excitement along with a few question marks especially on defense. The one position room with the most answers and considered by many as the unrelenting strength, is safety. 

James Williams is a 6-5, 225 lb. sophomore from American Heritage Plantation. Williams is coming off a Freshman year where he was named All-ACC Honorable Mention, while accumulating 31 tackles. Williams played in ten games, starting seven. In high school Williams was a consensus five-star (five orange) prospect. His length and athleticism factor in a myriad of ways as a defender.

Agent zero earned ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors for a stellar performance against the Pittsburgh Panthers on October 30th, 2021. In that performance Williams finished with a career high nine tackles and netted his second interception of the season. Many consider Williams the vocal leader of the defense and his physical play and tenacity definitely show. A true “throwback cane” who harnesses bad intentions towards any opposing player he comes across. Keep your heads down receivers, number zero is patrolling the area.

Avantae Williams, is a 6-0, 198 lb. third-year sophomore coming off a Hurricane season which he had 18 tackles while playing in six games. “Neo” has the flair for the dramatic. The DeLand, Fla. native was a four orange high school prospect and rival publications had him listed as the number one safety in the 2020 class. 

Versus Georgia Tech last season, Williams showed his uncanny ability to morph through the air. An unsuspecting quarterback delivered an errant pass that was intercepted by a ballistic ballhawk. Acrobats everywhere blushed. Williams also serves as a brand ambassador for the Orange Bowl Boys and will do a weekly recap segment this fall.

Kamren Kinchens is a 5-11 202 lbs. instinctive safety from Miami, Fla. Kinchens played in all 12 games and started his final four. As a true freshman he ranked fourth on the team with 44 total tackles. It did not take long for the true freshman last year to make his presence felt. Against perirenal powerhouse Alabama he finished with a career-high seven tackles and forced a fumble.

Kinchens coming out of Miami Northwestern high school held offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State and Georgia to name a few. He helped his Northwestern mates with back to back to back state championships. (2017-2019) Kinchens will factor a bunch and is considered by teammates as a student of the game. His ability to diagnose a play led to the game winning tackle vs. NC State last year.

Brian Balom 6-0, 200 lbs. is a third-year redshirt freshman from Miramar. Balom is coming off an injury which forced him to miss all of the 2021 campaign. During the 2020 season he played in ten games with one start while finishing with ten tackles. He finished with a career-high five tackles vs then top-ranked Clemson. Balom made his first career start in the 2020 Cheez-It Bowl vs Oklahoma State on December 29th. 

The former Miramar Patriot was turning heads in camp before the injury derailed him in 2021. Many believe Balom can be the unsung hero of the group and he further bolsters a very loaded position room.

Jalen Harrell 6-2, 210 lbs. is a third year sophomore from Champagnet Catholic who has seen the field mostly in a special teams role. Was a consensus 4 star in the 2020 class and rated number eight at his position nationally by the mothership ESPN.  Harrell chose the Hurricanes over schools Arkansas, Clemson, Florida State, Penn State and Tennessee.

Keshawn Washington 6-1, 202 is a third year redshirt freshman from South Dade who is looking to see more action this season. In 2020, as a true freshman, he saw action in four games and joyfully joined the 52-10 beatdown of rival Florida State. Washington only saw action in one game vs. Central Connecticut State last year. 

In closing, the expectations for this group are sky high, While young (no juniors, or seniors mentioned above) the safeties can be the undoubted anchor to reign in Kevin Steele’s Miami debut. Steele will no doubt protect his backend better than his predecessor. Boom or bust be gone. This position group only deals with the boom side of the equation. #ballhawks #safeties #hitstick 

About the Author: Maxbuk1

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