Throughout the years, the Hurricanes have been blessed with great receivers, and sometimes they’ve been blessed with two great receivers on the same team. Lamar Thomas and Randal Hill, Michael Irvin and Brian Blades, Braxton Berrios and Ahmmon Richards, you name it, the Canes have had weapons at WR.
Entering 2019, Miami again will be featuring a dangerous duo with their wide outs, Jeff Thomas and K.J. Osborn. It hasn’t even been a week into fall camp, yet it’s clear that these two are going to turn heads this season.
One of the most gifted receivers to come through UM in the last 15 years, Thomas enters his junior year with high expectations. Through two seasons and 24 games as a Hurricane, JT4 has been the most constant playmaker for Miami, averaging 18.0 yards per reception on 52 catches. Thankfully, coach Manny Diaz was able to bring Thomas back on the team after being dismissed towards the end of the 2018 season.
Can Jeff Thomas help get the Miami offense going this season? pic.twitter.com/nZV0DBS9AV— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 31, 2019
New offensive coordinator Dan Enos has said that he plans on getting Thomas the ball at least 10 times a game, which is something that wasn’t done under previous coaches.
“I saw glimpses of [Jeff Thomas] being a guy that can be a game changer. He needs to get 10 touches a game somehow, someway. We need to give him the ball in space.”— GO ‘CANES! (@83_87_89_91_01) July 11, 2019
- Dan Enos pic.twitter.com/cwN4QKCpLU
In 2018, Miami fans and all of college football was exposed to glimpses of Thomas’ full potential. Against FSU, #4 caught just three passes, but they went for 76 yards and a touchdown. In the game versus LSU, with a bad quarterback, Thomas still managed to total five receptions for 132 yards.
My favorite was game against Toledo, where Thomas had six touches on one rushing attempt for 19 yards, and also five catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. UM fans are thanking the heavens that Enos realizes his playmaking ability and value to this offense.
Osborn on the other hand, comes to Miami for one year in Coral Gables as a grad transfer from Buffalo. With the Bulls for three seasons, K.J. racked up 96 receptions, over 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson & WR @KJ_Osborn were feelin’ some type of way tonight. #UBhornsUp #MACtion @UBFootball pic.twitter.com/WcijhHIlYd— #MACtion (@MACSports) September 16, 2018
CFB Top 30 Wide Receivers: 21-30— Matt Hetzler (@TheHetz) July 31, 2019
21. KJ Hamler, Penn St.
22. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Mich
23. Adrian Hardy, LT
24. KJ Osborn, Miami
25. Marquez Stevenson, Houston
26. Bryan Edwards, SC
27. JD Spielman, Nebraska
28. TJ Vasher, TTU
29. Quez Watkins, S. Miss
30. McLane Mannix, TTU
Now with the Hurricanes, Osborn brings not only raw talent and skill, but also experience. Remember, Miami’s receiving core outside of Osborn is extremely young with very little experience, with the exception of Thomas and Mike Harley. K.J. has come in and been an example to the younger players, showcasing his amazing work ethic.
KJ Osborn getting some extra reps on the jug machine after practice pic.twitter.com/zxTWeAfN7y— Gaboowins (@GabyUrrutia22) March 19, 2019
Diaz asked about bringing KJ Osborn to ACC Kickoff as a grad transfer (w/o prior experience in the program). Says he's an great person, a gym rat— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) July 18, 2019
Osborn’s experience and maturity was on full display when he was one of two players, alongside Shaquille Quarterman representing Miami at ACC Media Days.
It also helps that Osborn, who attended IMG Academy in high school, has been meshing very nicely with his teammates and the offensive system at Miami. During the spring game back in April, K.J. and fellow transfer Tate Martell connected on an 80-yard touchdown.
Tate Martell to KJ Osborn 80 yard TD @KJ_Osborn @TheTateMartell pic.twitter.com/vENmGrbibm— Overtime (@overtime) April 20, 2019
Osborn has been able to follow that same production even through just the first few days of fall camp. On the first day of practice on Friday, again it was Martell finding K.J. down the sideline for the highlight of the evening.
Wow! Martell to KJ Osborn, who bring in the one-handed grab pic.twitter.com/IFlnyS6klw— Gaboowins (@GabyUrrutia22) July 27, 2019
It’s not just Martell he’s been able to connect with either. Osborn has also teamed up well with Jarren Williams and N’Kosi Perry through the air. During Monday’s practice, K.J. and Williams beat cornerback Trajan Bandy on 1-on-1 drills.
Jarren Williams just hit KJ Osborn deep for a touchdown with Bandy in tight coverage. Beautiful throw/catch— Gaboowins (@GabyUrrutia22) July 30, 2019
Jarren Williams to KJ Osborn on the fade pic.twitter.com/b4l7SrW06P— Stefan Adams (@stefan_adams305) July 29, 2019
The duo of Thomas and Osborn can absolutely be a game changer for the Hurricanes offense and passing attack, no matter who the quarterback is, and after last season, Miami is in desperate need of more than just one option at receiver.
In 2018, Thomas led the team with 563 yards, the next closest in terms of receiving yards was Lawrence Cager with 374. Thomas was also the only receiver over 25 receptions. The Hurricanes need to space out the passing game more, and adding an experienced college veteran like Osborn, I think, will do the trick.
Jeff Thomas led the Canes with 563 receiving yards. He was the only Miami WR over 400. I believe that Thomas and K.J. Osborn can each have well over 500 yards receiving each. Also Brevin Jordan.— MarshThomas (@hurricanesmarsh) July 31, 2019