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Miami Hurricanes Football: 2018 Pre-Spring Wide Receiver Preview

No position is deeper for the ’Canes in 2018 than what they could trot out at wide receiver next season.

Capital One Orange Bowl - Miami v Wisconsin Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Iron sharpens iron

Proverbs 27:17

For a long time, one of the many great aspects about playing football at the University of Miami was the competition within the team just to be a starter. While the Hurricanes were down for a period of time, Mark Richt and Co. are returning the program to its previous heights.

That might not be more evident than when perusing Miami’s depth at wide receiver for the 2018 season.


Braxton Berrios (graduate/NFL prospect)

Dionte Mullins (left the program)

Sam Bruce (transferred to Mississippi Gulf Coast CC)

Miami does lose their most productive receiver from the 2017 season in Braxton Berrios. While his presence and leadership will be missed, there remains plenty of talent in the receiver room that has become a bit more crowded over the off-season.


Ahmmon Richards (junior)

Lawrence Cager ( junior)

Jeff Thomas (sophomore)

Mike Harley (sophomore)

Evidence Njoku (redshirt freshman)

Darrell Langham (senior)

Dayall Harris (senior)

It all begins and ends with Ahmmon Richards, who still undoubtedly remains the best player at the position. Numerous injuries derailed what setup to be a promising sophomore season for the wideout. Entering his junior season, the assumption is that a much healthier Richards will be heavily featured in the offense—a feature that the Hurricanes were unable to accomplish in the 2017 season.

In this way-too-early outlook, there is a growing sense that Lawrence Cager has an opportunity to be a breakout player at the position next season. Last season, a year after suffering a torn ACL, Cager slowly acclimated back to full speed, finding his footing later in the season. Measuring out as one UM’s taller options at the position, Cager provides a big-body target for whoever ends up being starter at QB. Showcasing an ability to climb up the ladder and make the catch over a defender, Cager could prove to be more than just a complement to Richards next season.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

For speedster Jeff Thomas, we’d like to see a similar performance to his 2017 season—with a few exceptions. Getting by defenders with ease and creating separation from defenders appears to come easy to Thomas. While I feel confident that Miami will be able to get the ball in his hands more often this season, Thomas needs to improve on seeing the ball in and, like most young receivers, refine his route-running. Of course, that only matters if Miami can get him the ball on those splash plays down the field.

Mike Harley is one of the early candidates to fill the void at the slot receiver position after the graduation of Berrios. Harley has the ideal size, route-running and overall talent to ideally fill the position; however, he will have plenty of competition to see on the field in 2018. In his freshman season, Harley caught nine passes for 91 receiving yards with a 10.1 yard-per-catch average.

Named the most improved receiver after the 2017 season, Darrell Langham is now tasked with improving once more as he heads into his senior season. Langham shone early in the season, with spectacular grabs and coming through for the ’Canes at crucial moments. It should be fascinating to see how Langham progresses in his final season at the U.

The player that flies under the radar at the receiver position is Dayall Harris. A Swiss Army Knife of sorts with the ability to line up at any of the receiver positions, Harris’ knowledge of the system and reliability as a receiver should not go understated as the senior has a knack for finding holes in the defensive coverage to run free for big plays down the field.

You’d be forgiven if you forgot that the Njoku bloodline still runs through the University of Miami. Evidence Njoku, younger brother of former ’Canes TE David Njoku, made some noise early in the spring practice portion of the calendar. Unfortunately, the six-foot-six wide receiver tore his right ACL in practice in October. In spring practices, the New Jersey native hyperextended his knee in camp before the season. It remains unclear where in the rehab process the younger Njoku will be when the season opener pulls within the horizon. In glimpses, Njoku has shown off a remarkable catching radius with a knack to make the difficult catch look like ‘slight work’.

Storm 18

Coming off the high school parking lot are a few high-value sports cars in terms of collegiate talent for Miami. A few weeks removed from National Signing Day, well the traditional form of the day, the Hurricanes have gotten commitments from four wide receivers in their most recent recruiting class—two of whom, Brian Hightower and Daquris “Dee” Wiggins, have enrolled early. A third WR, Mark Pope, is set to join the team before the fall.

The Hurricanes added another wide receiver at the late National Signing Day period with the commitment of Marquez Ezzard of Stockbridge in Georgia.

I think that a few of these players could push for playing time this coming season. A feeling that should give Hurricane fans great joy as competition should create an environment where each guy in that receiver room strives to be the best they can be and better than the guy beside him.

Wide receiver coach Ron Dugans will have his work cut out for him in working out the depth chart this fall. Given the talent that he has to work with, the possibilities could see Miami make a return trip to Charlotte come the first week of December.