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Finding Miami’s New Number-One Receiver

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Now with Jeff Thomas gone from the program, where do the Canes turn to for receivers?

NCAA Football: Florida International at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the season, Ahmmon Richards was the clear-cut number-one receiver for the Hurricanes, and was regarded as one of the best in the country at the position.

Once Richards was lost due to injury, Jeff Thomas emerged as the Canes new go-to-guy and was poised for a historic season at Miami.

Now, both are gone, Richards to a career-ending injury, and Thomas has been dismissed from the program.

With loads of young and unproven talent, also with two games remaining in the season, it’s a great time to familiarize yourselves with the guys N’Kosi Perry will be throwing to in the upcoming future, and who will take Richards/Thomas’ spot as THE guy.

Finding a new number-one receiver sounds easy, but the statistics prove otherwise. Thomas led the Hurricanes with 35 catches, the next closest receiver in receptions has 19 catches for the season.

Also tight-end Brevin Jordan, who’s second for Miami in catches will be out against Pitt and possibly miss the bowl game.

The main guy now will be Lawrence Cager, a red-zone nightmare for defenders, though his season has been filled with as many drops as scores. Cager leads the Canes with six touchdowns on the year, including two against Florida State, but unfortunately, he hasn’t made a trip to the end zone since the FSU game.

For Cager, a junior, to become the real go-to-guy for Perry and the Miami passing game, he must become more consistent. Although he had two touchdowns against Florida State, he also suffered at-least four drops.

Another guy will be sophomore Mike Harley, one of Perry’s favorite targets. Harley and the redshirt freshman Perry have been one of the most dangerous Miami duos this season, and Harley’s speed is being utilized. In a three-game-stretch, Harley recorded 11 catches and averaged over 17 yards-per-reception, all from N’Kosi Perry.

Harley resembles Thomas in a way, where Perry trusts both receivers to go down the middle for a catch.

Then there’s the four true-freshman, Brian Hightower, Dee Wiggins, Marquez Ezzard and Mark Pope. All four have looked impressive coming in for this being their first year, but we just need to see more, simple as that.

Hightower has shown several glimpses of greatness throughout 2018 even with battling injuries.

Pope has struggled getting things going so far in 2018, and finally recorded his first catch of the season against Virginia Tech. Though Pope has the attributes to become great, he has also committed immature penalties, such as his cut-block foul versus Georgia Tech.

Size wise, Dee Wiggins is a player who has much more height than Jeff Thomas, with Wiggins standing at 6’3, but putting on more weight is something that will have to happen in order for Wiggins to maximize his full-potential. Wiggins also could've had a long touchdown against Virginia Tech, though it went right through his hands.

Then obviously Perry has his running-backs coming out of the backfield that are dangerous with the ball, and will do some damage even in the passing game.

Cam’Ron Davis has emerged not just as a skillful running-back, but also a valuable pass catcher, as evident in his performance last Saturday against Virginia Tech, where him and Perry connected on a nice 16-yard touchdown.

Junior back Travis Homer has also proven to be a trusted target for Miami quarterbacks this season, with 15 receptions and over 150 yards, the screen-pass to Homer is almost guaranteed a first down every time.

Though Richards and Thomas cannot be replaced due to their raw and unbelievable talent, the receiver group at Miami is both talented and young, and so is N’Kosi Perry. The Hurricanes will most-likely have to wait until 2019 to find their new number-one receiver, but the possibilities and options is something to be excited about.