Miami football did not have the 2018 season that pundits thought they would have as the team went 7-5 and suffered its third four game losing streak in as many years. The offense struggled throughout the season as the Hurricanes were unable to generate consistent offense throughout the course of the season.
The defense was a completely different story as Manny Diaz’s group was one of the nation’s top defenses throughout the year. The Hurricanes led the nation in tackles for loss, third down conversion percentage and passing yards allowed as the team finished second in total defense.
Even with all the impressive statistics that the Miami defense accomplished this season, linebacker Shaquille Quarterman was the only Hurricane who made first team All-ACC. Senior safety Jaquan Johnson was a leader all season for Manny Diaz, but he only made the second team. Defensive ends Jonathan Garvin and Joe Jackson combined for 30.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks, but latter was the only one who received conference recognition in All-ACC honorable mention.
Senior Gerald Willis III might have been the biggest snub as he was relegated to the second team in favor of Clemson’s defensive tackle duo of Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. While Wilkins is one of the nation’s top defensive tackles and is a finalist for the Outland Trophy, Lawrence’s inclusion over Willis III does not make any sense.
Willis III led the ACC in tackles for loss with 18 and had four sacks, while Lawrence only recorded 4.5 tackles for loss and a half sack. The argument can be made that Lawrence played on such a talented defensive line that he was unable to record big numbers, but the statistical disparity just does not add up.
Willis III not only deserves to be first team All-ACC, but a spot on an All-American. His selection on the first team over Outland Trophy finalists Wilkins and Quinnen Williams of Alabama will be hard to overcome, but Willis III’s play throughout the year has proven that he deserves to be recognized as one of the nation’s top defensive tackles. His impact was felt in the first game of the season when he recorded four tackles for loss against LSU and has not turned back since.
His presence and leadership on the Miami defense has elevated the unit to one of the nation’s elite. Willis III deserves recognition for his play this season and anything lower than second team All-American would be very surprising.