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Returning To Miami (Ohio): Top Three Defensive Players

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The Miami (Ohio) defense had trouble tracking down opposing ball-carriers and pass-catchers in 2013, but a few returners seem set for a good year in 2014. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images.
The Miami (Ohio) defense had trouble tracking down opposing ball-carriers and pass-catchers in 2013, but a few returners seem set for a good year in 2014. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images.

The defense for Miami (Ohio) was not good last season by any means.

A midseason coaching change, poor recruiting and averaging 33 minutes on the field led to some woeful numbers in the national rankings for the Redhawks. Miami was 111th in rush defense (223.3 ypg), 103rd in pass defense (260.9 ypg) and tied for 115th in sacks (14). Despite those numbers and Miami's 0-12 record in 2013, there are players to watch on the defense going into next season.

Bryson Albright

The 6-foot-5, 226-pound Bryson Albright led the Redhawks in sacks last season with five (more than one-third of the team's total) and made 55 total tackles on the season. Albright has the size and speed to rush the passer effectively. He'll be a force on the defensive line, especially if he can improve this offseason.

Going into his junior year, he will be a leader on the line and a big part of what Miami does defensively. Miami historically has played a 4-3 defense, but new head coach Chuck Martin might move to a 3-4 hybrid formation like Notre Dame ran. Either way, Albright will be strong off the edge in 2014.

Kent Kern

Kent Kern is one of those players who just seems to find the football. He led the team in total tackles last season with 98 and averaged 8.9 tackles per game for the Redhawks. Going into his junior year, Kern will be the man in the middle of the defense.

At 6-foot-1 and 231 pounds, he uses his size to fight through blockers and find the ball. If the Redhawks do switch to a 3-4 hybrid  formation on defense, Kern's numbers could be even higher in the linebacker-friendly system. Look for No. 43 to be around the ball once again come September.

Heath Harding

Miami's best athlete on defense is Heath Harding. In his freshman season out of Englewood, Ohio, Harding led the team in interceptions with three. He is a raw talent and will only get better at Miami. With Dayonne Nunley graduating this year, Harding will be the guy to take away opposing teams' No. 1 wideout.

He has to be the most exciting player for the Redhawks on defense going into next season. His height (5-foot-11), speed and strength give him a unique skill set to be able to cover different types of receivers. Opposing quarterbacks in the MAC will know where No. 24 is when they line up.