The top 10 Miami University football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
1. DE J’Terius Jones, Jr.
The Third Team All-MAC performer grew into one of the MAC’s better pass rushers finishing with ten sacks with 14.5 tackles for loss to go along with 52 tackles. As good as he was, though, three of his sacks came against Eastern Michigan and 2.5 came against UMass in two of the final three games. Now the spotlight will be on the 6-3, 263-pound veteran from Atlanta to be a key part of the MU defense from the start. Very fast with a burst off the ball, he has the skills to be a superstar.
2. LB Paul Moses, Jr.
The 6-0, 227-pound big hitter was third on the team in tackles with 71 stops, but the leading returning tackler is the leader of the linebacking corps now. With good speed and quickness on the outside, he came up with three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss while doing a nice job against the run. He came up with a season-high 12 tackles against Western Michigan and ten against Wisconsin, and now he has to be more consistent.
3. CB Heath Harding, Sr.
The top corner was able to get through three games, and then was done for the year with a bad back. He only made four tackles with two broken up passes before getting hurt, but when he’s right, he’s a terrific tackler making 98 stops two years ago with two interceptions. At 5-10 and 185 pounds he’s a good-sized corner who can pop, and if he’s back to 100% he’ll change the secondary and make it a strength.
4. NT Ikeem Allen, Jr.
The only regular tackle returning, he’s not all that big, but quick and can get into the backfield from time to time. At 6-1 and 272 pounds he’ll get engulfed at times when he works on the nose, but he was tough enough to come up with 34 tackles with 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss. Can he be an anchor? Not necessarily, but he’s a key part to an improving line.
5. QB Billy Bahl, Soph.
Very big, very strong, and very young, the 6-4, 248-pound passer was thrown to the wolves early on and took over the starting job late. He has the arm, the skills, and the line in front of him, but now he has to be far more effective and efficient completing just 44.5% of his passes on the season with eight touchdowns and 13 picks. He’s not a runner in any way, but he can push the ball all over the field. The picks slowed down late with three in his final five games, but he needs to be more consistent and can’t make the big mistakes.
6. RB Alonzo Smith, Soph.
The team’s leading rusher, Smith had a nice freshman season running for 498 yards and five scores while showing off a few skills as a receiver with ten catches for 59 yards. The 5-9, 225-yard quick back out of Florida stepped up his game late with 93 yards and a score in the win over Eastern Michigan and 109 yards and a touchdown in the season-finale win over UMass. A good get for the program, he should grow into more of a weapon.
7. S Buchi Okafor, Sr.
An emerging all-around veteran playmaker, he came up with 44 tackles with a pick and a sack before missing the season finale. A good hitter, he came up with ten tackles against Buffalo and had decent range. The safeties are deep and promising, but the versatile 6-1, 197-pounder is the leader and likely one of the team’s leading tacklers.
8. WR Rokeem Williams, Sr.
Can the 6-1, 198-pound veteran from South Carolina hasn’t been able to blow up for a full season, but he was the team’s leading receiver making 33 catches for 543 yards and two scores. While he disappeared here and there, he roared in the loss to Akron with seven catches for 181 yards and a score showing off his skills and upside if the quarterback play is better. He’s a leader, and now he should be the main target again in what should be a terrific final year.
9. QB Gus Ragland, Soph.
A big-time Ohio high school star with two state championship as the starting quarterback, he got his chance last year here and there completing 20-of-29 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns. His real worth was as a runner, taking off for 331 yards and two touchdowns providing a little something different when he came in the game running for over 40 yards five times. He might be 6-3 and 213 pounds, but he’s shifty enough to finish second on the team in rushing.
10. WR Sam Martin, Jr.
With size and a little bit of explosion, he averaged 18.69 yards per catch turning into a big-play target. He only caught 29 passes for 542 yards and two scores, but he hit Western Michigan for 134 yards and Cincinnati for 124 yards. When he made plays, he made them count – but he disappeared far too often in the attack. At 6-3 and 199 pounds he has the size and the deep ball ability. If he can stay healthy after getting hurt late last year, the numbers will be terrific.