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Miami's Competition at Striker Should Be Settled Soon

Battle Between Keontra Smith and Gilbert Frierson Has Been Close During Fall Camp

Miami must settle a number of starting jobs soon, and striker, the Hurricanes’ hybrid linebacker/safety position that features a spirited competition between sophomore Keontra Smth and redshirt sophomore Gilbert Frierson, is among those jobs.

Two weeks ago Jonathan Patke, Miami’s outside linebacker/special teams coach, said the competition was too close to call.

“It’s going to be fun in this camp to see who is going to take that job over,” he said.

With the season opener a week and a half away it’s about time the Canes settled on a starter and began preparing him to face Alabama-Birmingham in the Sept. 10 opener at Hard Rock Stadium.

Frierson, who is from Coral Gables (Fl.), played in all 13 games last season, making one start, and had 15 tackles, one interception and three pass breakups.

Smith, who is from Hollywood (Fl.) Chaminade-Madonna, played in seven games last season, mostly on special teams, and ended with two tackles.

Sophomore Ryan Ragone has an outside shot at the starting job but it’s largely considered a two-man competition. 

Patke said Smith (5-11, 215) played a similar position in high school, which helps. 

“He’s really come along,” Patke said. “You think of him being an older guy almost with Romeo (Finley) being the guy the last two years.”

However, Frierson (6-1, 205), a converted cornerback, might have a knowledge advantage. Patke said Frierson is a smart player who can line up the entire defense.

“Sometimes he does that if he’s out there with young guys, young (defensive backs),” Patke said.

Miami, which introduced the striker position in 2018, needs a smart, aggressive, athletic player at that position, someone physical enough to provide some run support but versatile enough to also handle pass coverage. Patke said he wants to utilize multiple players at striker.

We’ll soon see whether Patke thinks Smith or Frierson is better suited to be the starter.