Redshirt senior Chris Wade, Miami's starting SAM linebacker, returns from a standout 2012 season in which he led the RedHawks with 128 tackles--good for 47 more than any other RedHawk--including two 13-stop games against Boise State and Buffalo.
Wade's junior campaign was a true breakout year. As a freshman, he recorded one tackle against Ohio. In his sophomore season, he finished with eleven total. But last year? Last year he recorded more than twelve tackles in a game not once, but twice. And he didn't stop there, turning in eleven against Ohio, twelve against Cincinnati, and eleven against UMass. Of course the coaches know things about the team that we fans don't, but like Central Michigan's Justin Cherocci, his first two seasons provided no hint of the player he'd become.
His efforts paid off, as Wade was named Miami's defensive player of the year, beating out better-known names like Dayonne Nunley. Although he didn't have the flashy plays — the gang sack of Braxton Miller above was his only one on the season, and he didn't get credit for it in any event — he was able to defend a few passes, force a fumble, hurry the quarterback a few times, and, oh yes, make 128 tackles, good for sixth in the conference. He was a steady, dependable leader who the defense will lean on heavily next year, particularly as the other two starters in Miami's linebacking corps, Pat Hinkel and Jaytee Swanson, graduated.
Wade, an engineering management major, came to Miami from Slidell, Louisiana, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. He was voted North Shore High School's athlete of the year in his junior and senior seasons, reflecting not just his talent, but also his versatility--he lettered in football, basketball, track and field, and powerlifting.
Wade won't be asked to be that versatile for the RedHawks this season; they just need him to be a team leader and an outstanding linebacker. If last year is any indication, he'll do just fine.