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Ranking the Schedule: Receivers

The top five wide receiving groups the Miami secondary will be challenged with in 2018

NCAA Football: Florida State at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Hurricanes will have a few matchups between opposing wide receivers and their defensive backs, but not as much as one would think. Miami will face just six receivers in 2018 that finished in the top 200 nationally in receiving yards nationally in 2017. Diontae Johnson from Toledo finished inside the top ten nationally, but he lost his quarterback. After that we have to trickle further down the list to find the rest of the guys coming off solid years and then even further down to find some others. Absolutely nothing that this Miami Hurricanes defense can’t handle.

This list is based off who is returning, incoming freshman/redshirt freshman and quarterback situations that I believe can make the receiving corps better than they were a year ago.

5. Virginia

Olamide Zaccheaus was one of that nation’s most electric athletes despite standing at just 5’8. In 2017, he broke a 16-year University of Virginia record by catching 85 passes. His 895 yards were also fifth most in school history. Zaccheaus topped off his impressive junior season as an All-ACC second-team selection. He is a shifty wide receiver and, clearly, UVA’s go-to guy on offense. They like to run him out of the backfield as well.

Zaccheaus, along with tight end Evan Butts, who averaged 8.3 yards a reception, and Joe Reed, who caught a 75-yard touchdown pass against Miami in 2017, form a nice group of targets for JUCO transfer quarterback, Bryce Perkins. Perkins led Arizona Western to the national championship game and is a true dual-threat.

4. Virginia Tech

Despite losing star receiver Cam Phillips to the NFL, the Hokies return seven of their top nine pass catchers for 2018, led by Sean Savoy. As a freshman, Savoy finished with 39 catches for 454 yards and four touchdowns. Like Zaccheaus from Virginia, Savoy has a smaller frame, standing at 5’9. He too is used at times in the backfield as a running back or taking sweeps.

You also have to look out for a guy like sophomore wide out Eric Kumah, who stands a 6’2 and brought in 23 catches and averaged 11 yards per catch in 2017.

3. Florida State

Florida State being three on this list may honestly be pretty generous. Their lone returning receiver in the top 200 was Nyqwan Murray, who was ranked 155th. He had a solid year – reeling in 40 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns. However, Florida State still ranked behind teams like FIU, Duke, Virginia and Pittsburgh as a passing offense — all of whom are on Miami’s schedule. They are getting the benefit of the doubt because there is so much talent on that team.

Watch for D.J Matthews to a much bigger impact than he had as a freshman in 2018. Toward the latter stages of the year he became more involved in the offense and Florida State is looking at him to become one of their go-to guys after the departure of star-receiver Auden Tate.

Another name to keep an eye out for in redshirt freshman Tamorrion Terry, who had five catches for 129 yards and a touchdown in FSU’s spring game and was called “unguardable” by FSU quarterback Bailey Hockman.

The talent is there at Florida State, it is just a matter of how impactful the passing game will actually be.

2. LSU

Another team on this list that does not blow you away when you look at the numbers from a year ago, but this is not the same LSU team. Joe Burrow drastically changed the way I personally viewed this offense. LSU has wasted some serious talent during their time in Baton Rouge lately (Malachi Dupre), despite D.J Chark being highly selected in the most recent NFL Draft. Only 17 touchdowns came through the air for the Tigers in 2017 and they averaged just 203.5 yards per game through the air.

However, Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles sat out in 2017 after posting a 1000-yard season while catching 13 touchdown passes for the Red Raiders in 2016. Giles does a very nice job of taking short to intermediate passes and taking them for a big gain. He is absolutely going to be the biggest asset to the LSU passing attack – along with Joe Burrow.

Then there is the freshman Terrace Marshall Jr., who is someone Hurricane fans really hoped would be standing on our sideline during Miami’s September 2nd matchup against the Tigers in Arlington. Marshall is a 6’3 wide receiver that was unanimously regarded as the number one player in Louisiana in the 2018 class. Despite a push from many big schools, Marshall Jr. chose the in-state Tigers. He will be expected to make an impact from day one.

Drake Davis (6’4), Stephen Sullivan (6’6) and Dee Anderson (6’6) are all massive receivers that are looking to lock up that outside spot and be a true deep threat for Joe Burrow.

1. Toledo

Hear me out. I know Toledo may not be who you expected to see first on the list, but loan me your ear (or eyes) for a minute. Toledo was the ONLY team throughout the 2017 regular season to put up at least 30 points on this Miami defense. They got there by having a quarterback that threw for 342 yards and weapons that were actually legitimate.

That quarterbacks name is Logan Woodside. Woodside was drafted in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Toledo’s head coach Jason Candle is a long way from announcing their starter for the 2018 season, but regardless they will have a plethora of playmakers to help them along the way.

Diontae Johnson finished the 2017 season eighth nationally in receiving. Johnson caught 74 passes for 1278 yards and 13 touchdowns, including two against Miami. I’m not very good at math, but my phone tells me that is over 17 yards per catch. He is returning in 2018, along with Jon’Vea Johnson (no relation). Jon’Vea Johnson finished the season with 42 catches and 689 yards with five touchdowns. Against Miami, he caught five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. Toledo is the only school on Miami’s schedule to have two returning receivers in the top 200 receivers in the NCAA in 2017.

And don’t you dare forget about Cody Thompson — who will be a fifth year senior in 2018 after playing in just five games in 2017 before suffering a season-ending leg injury. Thompson ranks sixth all-time in school history in receiving yards with 2,665, eighth all-time with 20 touchdown catches and second all-time in yards per catch. In 2016, Thompson caught 64 passes for 1269 yards and 11 touchdowns. As impressive as he was in 2016, he was actually averaging a career-best 107.4 yards a game and still managed to have over 500 yards in just the five games he played last season.

There are a couple of other impressive wide receivers Miami will see in 2018, but overall I believe these teams in particular will pose the biggest threats.


Which school has the best receiving corps on Miami’s schedule?

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