In the Spring of 2016, Mark Richt clamored for more from his receivers.
While speaking to media last year, Richt said that he didn’t feel the cornerbacks are being challenged, because Miami’s receivers didn’t have enough “speed.”
It was a legitimate concern for Miami last season, who dealt with depth issues and was forced to start freshman Ahmmon Richards after an offseason injury suffered by Lawrence Cager.
Cager was expected to be a valuable cog in Miami’s offense, and forced players on the depth chart such as Malcolm Lewis into more playing time.
Fast forward one calendar year, and although they still have room to grow, Miami will hold one of its most talented receiver groups in years.
Although the ‘Canes may not feel this depth in the Spring, the Miami will be adding electricity through incoming freshmen Jeff Thomas, Mike Harley, and early enrollee Deejay Dallas. Add freshman Evidence Njoku and Lawrence Cager to the mix after recovering from his injury, and the ‘Canes will have more than 5 receivers who played in the Under Armour or U.S. Army All-American game.
“As a unit just grow,” Ahmmon Richards said after practice Thursday. “Each receiver just get better overall.”
And as an overall unit Miami will be adding the speed and depth fans have been clamoring for. The idea of Richards and Cager on the edges, with Thomas in the slot, is one that had Miami fans salivating during the offseason, and that does not even include talented wideouts such as Dionte Mullins and Deejay Dallas who are practicing this Spring.
Dallas, who coaches say is explosive with the ball in his hands, has been one of the more exciting players this Spring. The wideout was seen making two catches in a highlight video edited by Miami after their scrimmage, and has impressed while on campus.
Dallas is also the emergency option if Miami suffers injuries at running back, but Richt said their “goal is not to do that.”
“If we didn’t think Choc [Gray] was coming back, if we didn’t think Burns was coming back, if we didn’t think their was any hope of anyone else joining us,” Richt said. “Then he would probably be the first guy on the roster to do that. But at this point we didn’t want to jack him around, learn all this, and then go to receiver.”
Richt said they are trying to let him learn and that the receiver position takes more development than running back. The position switch would serve as an emergency lever for Miami, who would prefer to leave him at receiver.
With Dallas, the ‘Canes would be adding three scholarship receivers with 4.52 speed or faster; a far cry from what Richt was saying in 2016.
“I don’t know if we are challenging them [cornerbacks] enough at the wide receiver position with just flat out speed,” Richt said in February of 2016 while discussing depth at receiver. “We gotta get guys that can run.”
Not only has Richt gotten those runners, but they have also provided depth to the position.
Only time will tell who will be throwing the ball to Ahmmon Richards and company this fall, but with other targets such as Christopher Herndon at tight end, the starting quarterback will have a plethora of weapons at his disposal in 2017.