Manny Diaz is scorching hot on the trail right now. Since taking over as the Hurricanes head coach, he has reinvigorated this Miami Hurricanes fan base and football program in a way that would never have seemed possible in the days following the Hurricanes blowout loss to Wisconsin. It is hard to grasp that less than a month ago this program was in a stagnant state of failure under Mark Richt with little to no hope of improving.
Besides hitting dinger after dinger with the hiring of his staff, Diaz absolutely dominated transfer season by landing five guys who will be playing the remainder of their college football careers at Miami.
In December, Mark Richt’s Hurricanes locked up Butler transfer Tommy Kennedy, who is expected to start at left tackle, and Asa Martin, the 2016 Mr. Football in Alabama who transferred from Auburn due to the mismanagement of his redshirt. He could potentially be cleared and play running back for the Hurricanes this fall.
Then it got quiet. Really quiet. Khris Bogle and Tyrique Stevenson, Miami’s two must-get guys, committed elsewhere. Jeff Thomas was an Illinois Fighting Illini. It was an easy time to count out the Hurricanes from a recruiting and football standpoint.
And then it got loud. Really loud. It was a late Wednesday night when former 4-star S Bubba Bolden announced that he would be transferring to Miami. It was huge news. Bolden was recruited by every school in America as a high school prospect and now he was a Cane, thanks largely to his relationship with Brevin Jordan.
#WelcomeToTheU, Bubba Bolden. Former All-American (EVERYBODY’S ALL-AMERICAN) from Bishop Gorman joins the #Canes after having left USC prior to the 2018 season. INCREDIBLE talent. Huge addition for Miami. #TheU https://t.co/OLHaFdpDGM pic.twitter.com/mzGxR56CDi— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) January 10, 2019
Less than 24 hours later, K.J. Osborn committed to play his final year of eligibility at The U. Osborn had 892 receiving yards and seven touchdowns at Buffalo last year. With the absence of Jeff Thomas (or so we thought), Osborn gave Miami a legitimate number one wide receiver again.
Then to top it all off, Miami landed the commitment of Ohio State transfer quarterback Tate Martell less than a week after the commitments of Bolden, Martell’s high school teammate, and Osborn.
right back like we never left...— TATE MARTELL (@TheTateMartell) January 16, 2019
I’M A HURRICANE! pic.twitter.com/6Dh0gu4fxD
There is no doubt that we could see a completely different Miami team in 2019 than we did in 2018. There are talented guys who have bought into Diaz’s program and want to help take it to the next level. Now, who could be “The Guy” out of this group to help Miami get there? The easy answer is Martell. He plays the most important position on the field and the position that single handedly tanked Miami’s season last year.
However, things aren’t always as clear as they seem to be. The obvious answer today isn’t necessarily going to be the correct choice nine games into the season. It happens in sports time and time again.
Kennedy is a 6’5 290 pound lineman at a position of need for the Hurricanes. He could easily be a high impact guy right away. Martin was considered the best football player in Alabama his senior year. With the departure of Homer and Lingard coming off an injury, who’s to say that Martin can’t slip right into Homer’s role. If he gets cleared to play, it’s not outlandish to consider.
Bolden has three years of eligibility at a position that just lost two starters. It’s going to be an open competition at safety that many expect Bolden to win. He is physically gifted at 6’3 and 201 pounds, bigger than both Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall, who are expected to compete for either of the safety positions as well.
But the guy who I believe will make the biggest impact for the Hurricanes in 2019 is the wide receiver out of Buffalo, K.J. Osborn. I don’t really have to go off about how terrible our offense again was, right? I think that is well understood. Osborn immediately provides the skill set of most teams best wide receiver alongside Jeff Thomas, who may be one of the best playmakers in the entire country.
Then you throw in the Dan Enos factor. The man knows how to run an offense and develop quarterbacks. Whether Martell, Jarren Williams, or N’Kosi Perry is playing quarterback for the Canes it is expected that we will see much better play from the position going forward. Enos is credited with helping both Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts take the next step in their development as quarterbacks to the point where Nick Saban was ready to make him his offensive coordinator going forward.
If the quarterbacks get better, then by result the receivers are getting better too. K.J. Osborn is the perfect compliment to Jeff Thomas’ speed as he provides the big bodied, sure-handed wide receiver that Miami has desperately needed for a long time. Just the fact that he will be thrown into that room with Thomas, Mike Harley, Mark Pope, Brian Hightower, Dee Wiggins, Evidence Njoku, and Jeremiah Payton is ridiculous. Then you have to account for the two tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory. Just, wow.
Questioning the production of the Hurricanes receivers has been valid as of late, but questioning their talent is foolish. And the talent in that room just got much, much better with Osborn.