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Miami Hurricanes Football: 2017 Wide Receiver Recap, Rookie of the Year

Which UM receiver made the biggest impact in the first season on the field?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Bethune-Cookman at Miami Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Nominees

DeeJay Dallas

Mike Harley

Jeff Thomas

Darrell Langham

DeeJay Dallas

Four receptions, 92 receiving yards, 23 yards-per-reception, and 0 receiving touchdowns

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Bethune-Cookman at Miami Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Given that DeeJay Dallas is listed as an ‘athlete’ on the official team website, it provides the ideal loophole to include the freshman in the receiver conversation. His four receptions for 92 receiving yards will get him nominated; however, Dallas did most of his damage running the ball more than running routes. The shiftiness of Dallas is what’s astounding about his game. He’s not the fastest on the team, yet appears to be the most elusive player that Miami has on offense, squirming and spinning his way to first downs and big gains.

You can project Mr. Utility will bring in a couple more receptions in the 2018 season. However, given his importance to the offense, Dallas could have as many receptions as he does pass attempts a year from now.

Mike Harley

Nine receptions, 91 receiving yards, 10.1 yards-per-reception and 0 touchdowns

Miami v Duke Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

A year removed from playing for powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas High School (FL), the five-foot-nine, 160 pound WR promised to deliver something that was severely lacking from the roster: speed. The signing of Harley, along with Jeff Thomas, in the 2017 recruiting class signified the emphasis the Hurricanes were putting on adding speed to the offense. With the ability to takeoff on intermediate routes and turn them into house calls, Harley’s freshman season served as an adjustment period more than a breakout campaign.

In his most productive game of the season, the receiver snagged three receptions for 34 receiving yards in a game against Toledo. Harley could be poised for a breakout next season, something that we further discuss in our upcoming 2018 season preview. This past season, Harley was just getting into gear for what should be an excellent collegiate career.

Jeff Thomas

17 receptions, 374 receiving yards, 22 yards-per-reception and two touchdowns

Syracuse at Miami Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images

No player left more defenders in his dust than Thomas. The downside is that there was a failure to launch from the pocket, leaving Thomas either stopping his routes for jump balls, or making plenty of last-minute adjustments. No ’Canes receiver creates more separation between himself and a defender on the roster. It’s a shame that Thomas had only 374 receiving yards, since it’s realistic that he could have surpassed that total as effortlessly as he does defenders on downfield routes.

What’s new is good. What’s good could’ve been great. In his freshman season, Jeff Thomas provided the speed that Miami’s offense has missed for a couple seasons. His ability to accelerate and then seperate from defenders is at an elite level in just his first year in college. The East St. Louis native played up to the standards of the U this past season, finishing third in the ACC with 374 receiving yards. To be honest, that total easily could have been doubled. While Thomas got separation, leaving defenders five to ten yards behind him, the ball placement on targets in his direction was spotty at best. Thomas would often need to slow down or stop his route to comeback to an underthrown ball, or just watch a pass get airmailed over his head. However, Thomas immediately proved to be a down-field threat for the ’Canes, puting the rest of the conference on notice that Miami has a burner on the field.

Darrell Langham

11 receptions, 211 receiving yards, 19 yards-per-reception and two touchdowns

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Virginia at Miami Photo by Richard C. Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Darrell Langham does not qualify as a freshman, seeing as he played as a redshirt junior in 2017. Yet this was most definitely a breakout season for the often overlooked receiver. After putting together a great spring camp, Langham parlayed that off-season success into use in the regular season, scoring his first collegiate touchdown in the opening week of the season against Bethune-Cookman. Langham’s most complete game came against Georgia Tech, hauling in five receptions and 100 receiving yards to help Miami eek out a single-digit win.

Langham’s season won’t be remembered for complete games, yet more for the moments he created. When Malik Rosier stared down the six-foot-four, 220-pound receiver on a fourth and 10 with 42 seconds remaining in the game, Rosier lobbed a pass between two defenders—and with a bounce in the air and a firm clasp of his hands around the ball, Langham came down with the catch, setting Miami up to kick the game-winning field goal. Nothing could have outdone that moment… well, except for what Langham accomplished the week before.

THE FINALISTS (Darrell Langham and Jeff Thomas)

DeeJay Dallas is a Swiss army knife—he is more running back than receiver after this season. Mike Harley did not see enough targets or snaps to warrant being named a finalist. The decision came down to whether Darrell Langham, who is a veteran of the team yet had not registered a single stat in his career until this season, was a better weapon on a more consistent basis than Jeff Thomas, who had a featured role on offense.

And the winner is…

Jeff Thomas

Capital One Orange Bowl - Miami v Wisconsin Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

While Langham produced great moments, it was Thomas that put fear into opponents’ hearts on a consistent basis. The mantra that ‘speed kills’ still holds true to this day, with Thomas routinely getting open on just about any pass play for the ’Canes. While there were a few concentration problems and drops on his part, Thomas did a great job of making the most of his (catchable) opportunities.