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Spring Football Position Preview: Wide Receivers

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Jeff Thomas and K.J. Osborn lead an extremely talented receiver group into spring ball for Miami.

NCAA Football: Miami at Toledo Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s fair to say that almost no position group at Miami has gone through more of an emotional rollercoaster than its receivers. Just in the 2018 season, Ahmmon Richards suffered a career-ending injury, Jeff Thomas was dismissed, and Lawrence Cager announced that he was transferring.

Now as we prepare in the coming weeks for the start of spring ball, the receiver group situation is a much prettier picture. Thomas has been brought back by Manny Diaz, talented grad transfer K.J. made his way to Coral Gables, and a plethora of young talent fills out the rest of the roster.

Jeff Thomas:

We all know about Thomas’ circus of an offseason so far, so I won’t review that situation. There’s no doubt that #4 comes in to spring ball and 2019 as the Canes go-to receiver, after showing everyone how good he can be last year.

His talent is absolutely off the charts, and is expected to take another big step this spring. Last season, Thomas finished with 35 receptions, 563 yards and three touchdowns, and was one of the best in the nation as far as yards per catch. Expect to see the junior lead the receiver group both as a leader, and as number one on the depth chart.

K.J. Osborn:

The grad transfer from Buffalo was one of the top receivers in the portal, and bound to have another solid season in 2019. Last year, Osborn racked up 53 catches, 892 yards and seven touchdowns. Presenting a solid 6-foot 205-pound frame, Osborn will present a great number-two option at receiver opposite of Thomas.

Much like Thomas, Osborn is able to present a dual-threat skill set at receiver, willing to go over the middle and deep, or making something happen with his speed off a screen.

Brian Hightower:

As a freshman in 2018, in the time he was in the game, Hightower showed-forth the reasons why he was so highly recruited out of high school. Due to an injury, his time was limited, but most people will say that they saw enough last year to label Hightower as a rising star.

Standing at 6-foot-three, Hightower possesses a jump ball skill that is lacking right now on Miami’s WR roster, and will look to become the third receiving threat for the Canes.

Mike Harley:

Harley is someone who is just a few plays away from being a real threat on a weekly basis for Miami. 2018 saw him have breakout games, such as recording seven catches for over 70 yards against FIU. His speed is something that really sets him apart, and I'd expect this junior to surprise a lot of people in 2019.

Mark Pope:

This Miami native saw action in nine games in 2018, and his talent is something that set the sophomore apart in his recruiting class. A lot of people are counting on Pope to have a big spring and work his way more into the rotation.

Dee Wiggins:

If you were to draw up what a college receiver looks like, it would be Wiggins. He looks so natural running his routes, and made three starts in 2018 and saw action in all 13 games. One thing he’ll look to improve on is the drops, having a particularly bad one in Virginia Tech that would’ve gone for a touchdown. The talent is there though.

Jeremiah Payton:

One of the top signees from Miami’s 2019 recruiting class, Payton has had high praise, and someone who is expected to have a standout career during his time at UM. He’s one of the early enrollees, and is already in meetings and at the workouts. He’ll look to put on a little size during the spring, but is a great contended to be in the fourth or maybe third WR role.

Evidence Njoku:

Yes, he’s David Njoku’s brother, so we know that he’s a freak athlete and the talent is most definitely there. Fame that’s similar to his brother has been a little harder however for Evidence, with just one career catch. Physically he’s a freak, standing at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, so Njoku will be one of the most interesting players to watch during the spring.

Final Words:

The good thing for Miami, is that they don’t have to worry about talent at the receiver position. Thomas and Osborn are players who will be in the NFL possibly next year, but up-and-coming receivers that the Canes have should have fans extremely excited.