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Analyzing Freshmen Performances Through Game 2

Some have flashed future star power and some have been quieter than expected

NCAA Football: Bethune Cookman at Miami
Mike Harley has impressed early, continuing to earn playing time
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 signing class was exciting in the fact that it was top to bottom full of the Miami caliber talent Canes fans expect. With the depth issues Miami had in the Spring, we could see that a large number of Freshmen would have to become immediate contributors, and so far that has proven true. Through four weeks yet only two games, these are some of the freshman who have stood out and some that have been noticeably absent.


Mike Harley

On an offense full of weapons, Harley is growing as one of Rosier’s favorite targets. The 2017 class was full of top receiver talent, so the question wasn’t ‘if’ but ‘who’ would emerge as the standout. Harley is winning that battle so far after earning a week 1 start and recording 4 receptions for 52 yards through two games. He’s displayed his speed, good route running, and sure hands and could see more open looks once Ahmmon Richards returns to the lineup.

Navaughn Donaldson

Another freshman who has earned a starting spot, Donaldson has already put out a lot of great tape. His combination of size and athleticism allows him to wash out defenders, and he’s able to get out on pull plays to lead block effectively. Against Toledo, he also provided great pass protection to allow Rosier time to throw in the pocket. As he continues to add strength and hone his technique, Donaldson could evolve into an All-American type talent.

Trajan Bandy

Bandy received a fair amount of snaps at multiple positions against Toledo which is a credit to his good instincts, physicality, and maturity. He had a few mistakes, as expected, but there’s a lot to love about Bandy’s potential. With a lot of question marks in the defensive backfield for the Hurricanes, I expect Bandy’s minutes to go up as Diaz gets a better handle of his personnel. His tackling and knowledge of coverage concepts should improve as the season progresses.

Jonathan Garvin

There was a lot of praise for Garvin from coaches and players throughout Fall camp. It’s a credit to him that he’s been able to crack the lineup in a very loaded defensive end position and record three tackles thus far. Diaz likes to rotate a lot across the defensive line, so Garvin should continue to get pass rush opportunities. Once he adds some strength to match his speed, the ceiling is the roof for Garvin.


Jeff Thomas

Thomas and Harley can be considered the two vipers at receiver, small but quick and deadly. Thomas, especially, is fast as heck, but has only caught one ball so far for -2 yards despite multiple targets. Call it bad luck or missed opportunities, I’m sure he’s frustrated with his lack of contribution. He hasn’t been able to do too much in the return game either. With Ahmmon Richards’ return and a loaded receiving core, it could be a quiet freshman year for Thomas.

N’Kosi Perry

I had a preseason hunch that Richt would design certain play packages for Perry to run in games, but at this point it seems Rosier will be the baton carrier through and through. However, I find it hard to believe Perry will redshirt, so who knows what his involvement will be once Miami hits its ACC schedule. I wouldn’t count him out quite yet.

Deejay Dallas

Dallas is another freshman whose versatility begged for creative play design whether at receiver, running back, or ‘wildcat’ quarterback. Thus far, Dallas has only made one reception against Bethune-Cookman. He’s still learning to play receiver, so it may take him a year to nail down his route running and consistency and learn from the talented vets in front of him.

I realize it’s only been two games, so there’s a ton of football yet to be played. The names of standout freshman may change a bit from week to week, but I think these top four names are here to stay. This freshman class is going to be the cornerstone of Miami’s resurgence. It will be interesting to see their progress through the year as an indicator for future success.

Which Freshman have impressed you so far, and who would you like to see earn a few more snaps?