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2017 Miami Hurricanes Position Preview: Wide Receivers

While the quarterback position is stealing all headlines in Coral Gables this offseason, Miami has added a host of new receivers to help the passing game make a push.

Miami v Appalachian State Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Front Line Starters

Entering 2017, all eyes will be on sophomore Ahmmon Richards to lead Miami’s group of receivers. As a freshman All-American, Richards cemented himself as a top-tier pass catcher in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Richards’ 994 receiving yards led all Miami receivers, and supplanted himself as the number two target behind senior Stacy Coley.

Now a different challenge lies ahead for the sophomore, who must take the next step into a role as Miami’s primary receiving target. Redshirt sophomore Lawrence Cager is expected to line up on the opposite sideline for the ‘Canes, as he looks to prove himself post-surgery. Cager was a four star recruit when he joined Miami in 2015, and brings unique measurables with a 6’5” 218 pound frame. Cager’s emergence can take Miami’s passing game to a different level, and his recovery from ACL surgery will remain front and center once he suits up for the first time this fall.

NCAA Football: Miami at Cincinnati
Lawrence Cager will look to emerge in 2017 after missing all of last season due to injury.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Young Players

Headlined by freshmen Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley, Miami is adding an influx of youth talent to the receiving corps. With a first year starter at quarterback at the helm, Thomas and Harley will have little time for growing pains while on the field. Thomas is expected to fill a role in the slot for Miami come September, and will be utilized with the game plan of putting him in open space. At 5’10” 175 pounds, Thomas is expected to be among the most electrifying freshman in the nation this year, after ranking as a national top 10 receiver in high school. Harley is also expected to become a factor for the ‘Canes this season due to his speed, and should become a deep threat for Miami late in the year. Harley was a U.S. Army All-American in high school, and enters Miami out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.

Another young player poised to make an impact in 2017 is fellow freshman DeeJay Dallas. A 4-star ATH from Brunswick, GA, Dallas was an early enrollee, and particpated in Spring Practice. A player with a variety of skills who could be used at many positions, Dallas will start his career at WR, and hopefully stay there for his entire Canes career. He showed very good athleticism and playmaking ability in the spring, and should definitely find his way onto the field this fall. Not only will Dallas see time at WR — likely in the slot — but there has been talk of using the prep QB in a Wildcat or special package as well.

Beyond Dallas, Thomas and Harley, Miami has other young receivers that are not a part of the class of 2017, most notably, sophomore Dionte Mullins. Mullins burned his redshirt early in the season despite seeing little snaps on gameday, and figures to make an impact in 2017. Mullins was not able to play much, in part, due to a late enrollment date after an academic delay. Mullins was one of Miami’s top receivers in the Spring, and is one of multiple receivers this season expected to play a larger role.

The Veterans

Beyond Miami’s front line starters and young players lie the returning veterans. One of the most impactful receivers in this group is senior Braxton Berrios, who has stepped up as a leader on the team, and has proved to be a reliable set of hands for the ‘Canes. Berrios is also relied upon to return punts for the Hurricanes, and made a large impact on special teams for Miami last season. Beyond Berrios, redshirt junior Dayall Harris recorded nine catches for the ‘Canes last year, and proved to be a valuable depth receiver late in the year.

Harris and Berrios will both provide experience along with Miami’s front line players at the position, providing crucial leadership to an offense that will be led by an inexperienced quarterback.

Florida State v Miami
Berrios is set to be a crucial player for the ‘Canes on special teams this season, and will get snaps as a reliable receiver in critical passing situations.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Regardless of who lines up under center, however, Miami will need stout play from their receivers in order to wean a new quarterback into the system.