Top Prospect of Week Two: Miami LB Denzel Perryman

Denzel Perryman had a game-high 13 tackles in Miami's upset win over Florida. (USATSI)
Denzel Perryman had a game-high 13 tackles in Miami's upset win over Florida. (USATSI)

Each Wednesday of the college football season Senior Analyst Rob Rang will identify his Prospect of the Week. To qualify, the player must have played a significant role in their team's performance against a quality opponent, demonstrating not only effectiveness as the collegiate level but the rare traits to demand the attention of pro scouts, as well.

Top Prospect of Week Two: Miami LB Denzel Perryman

Quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnson deserve the attention they've received since Miami's upset over the then-No. 12 ranked Florida Gators but The U can thank its playmaking defense for its return to national prominence.

Few universities can boast the legacy at linebacker that Miami can. From Ray Lewis to Dan Morgan to D.J. Williams to Sean Spence, Miami has produced some of the best collegiate and NFL linebackers in recent history. Denzel Perryman doesn't yet own the same name recognition as his predecessors but in racking up a game-high 13 tackles, including nine solos and a forced fumble to end Florida's first drive of the game, the junior certainly appears poised to soon join them as an All-American and early round NFL prospect.

Perryman wasted little time making his impact in this game. The Gators drove nearly the length of the field after receiving the opening kickoff, averaging 10.6 yards per snap over their first five plays. Their impressive start had quieted a passionate Miami crowd and quickly earned them momentum, or at least it seemed.

A couple of penalties pushed Florida back towards midfield and Perryman took over from there, greeting the Gators' starting running back Matt Jones at the line of scrimmage with one of his trademark explosive collisions. Perryman's hit knocked the ball back a full six yards where Miami defensive tackle Curtis Porter recovered it, sending the crowd into a frenzy and setting up the first of Morris' two touchdown passes to stake Miami to a lead they'd never relinquish.

At a listed 6-0, 243-pounds Perryman possesses the stout frame of a classic inside linebacker. His instincts, quickness and explosive hitting ability also fit in well with the skill-set required to handle the tough duty inside. His athleticism, however, allows him to remain on the field on passing situations, making him a true three-down defender.

Perryman, a Coral Gables native, signed with Miami with relatively little fanfare as a three-star recruit. Once on the field, however, Perryman quickly distinguished himself, earning five starts in 12 games as a true freshman to earn Freshman All-American honors and earning honorable mention All-ACC honors from league coaches despite starting just six games in an injury-shortened sophomore campaign.

With a shorter frame than scouts would prefer and having missed a couple of games a year ago to a high ankle sprain, Perryman must prove that he has the toughness to remain on the field for a full season. While this may be true, there is no denying his ability to impact the game. Perryman locates the football quickly and his acceleration puts him in position to make plays in much the same way that allowed Kevin Minter to enjoy a breakout junior campaign for LSU a season ago. Minter parlayed his 2012 season into earning a second round selection by the Arizona Cardinals.

Perryman has a long ways to go before matching Minter's eye-popping 130 tackle performance of a year ago. Like the former LSU star, however, Perryman is an instinctive, physical defender whose big hits and penchant for game-changing plays could lead to a similar "breakout" campaign that earns him all-conference recognition and a rapid surge up draft boards.   

Prior Prospect of the Week recipients:

Week One: Alabama WR/RS Christion Jones

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