Prior to the pandemic, Miami was primed to have a successful offseason that featured a new OC, 4 transfers, and 13 early enrollees. The incoming freshman are a huge boost to our program because it helps ensure the identity of this team that Coach Diaz is looking for. The quality of players that were brought in provide potential starters at some point this year, or maybe key role players.
Next year, we will be shifting our focus to Alabama when we play them opening game in 2021. If we want to be somewhat ready to play the Crimson Tide, we must have a strong 2020 campaign and follow it with an even stronger recruiting class. South Florida features a very strong class and Miami must land a great deal of this talent.
However, if Miami does not walk out of 2020 with 11 wins, then we can't expect these top recruits to wear green and orange. Our roster features a great deal of athletes who can play in the next level, but we must have the right coaching to maximize everything. Our schedule is filled with teams that we are much better than on paper, by a lot. This has been the case for years, but Miami is the only thing stopping itself from being great.
Our knight in shinning armor; D’Eriq King, who has the talent and playmaking ability to be a leader for this University. He proved he can be one of the most explosive players in the nation during 2018, and I expect him to have a field day in the ACC. I believe King is going to be the best QB in every game this year (I think he can be as productive as Sam Howell) which gives us an early advantage and will be our saving grace if Miami decides to play down to our competition. In this new advanced offense, Rhett Lashlee should have Miami excelling and putting up points each week. With King being QB1, I can't help but imagine we average close to 38 ppg with his throwing and running abilities.
It is sad knowing we won't have DeeJay Dallas being the lead back and making something out of nothing, but I really like Cam’Ron Harris. Harris has been working this offseason by putting in the work and getting every rep that he can. Based on our upgrades at OL and our given schedule, I fully anticipate Cam’Ron to get over 1,000 yards on the ground and will be beneficial in pass catching and pass blocking. Behind him I expect Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney to get a lot of playing time and give us a glimpse of the future of Miami tailbacks.
The group that must step up big time and make plays often. This will be the year where Mike Harley needs to put everything together and have a strong senior campaign. I would love to see Harley lock down the slot position and serve as a great asset to King. On the outside, it would be nice to see Jeremiah Payton and Dee Wiggins be reliable options on deep balls, quick routes, and contested catches. I really want to see Mark Pope make the jump and would love to see him have a big year. With how we recruited last year, we have 4 really good incoming freshman who will be well known within the next two years. This is probably our deepest group, and I have a feeling Coach Likens will get a few top drafted guys to add to his résumé.
At UM tight end will always be taken care of, and it should be no surprise that our starter can end up being selected in the first round. Brevin Jordan is an outstanding player who will be playing on Sundays due to his receiving skills, willingness to block, and ability to seal the edge. With Jordan not being our only playmaker in the group, Miami has nice depth with Will Mallory, Larry Hodges, and Dominic Mammarelli. During his time at SMU, Coach Lashlee utilized his tight end a lot which gets me excited for Brevin and Will. With the Hurricanes having Coach Lashlee for game days, and Coach Fields for practice and recruiting, Tight end seems to be in great hands.
THANK YOU GARIN JUSTICE! I just want to say we have a line coach that has already been more productive in landing top OL talent in South Florida, AND has even offered top lineman out of state which is more productive than our last couple of coaches! I think with a younger coach who can relate to these players more and can give them more energy, this will help our players want it more. I think Coach Justice will allow former Canes to stop by and teach unique and tips. Within the next 2-3 years, Miami can have a great line that will make football on Saturdays more enjoyable.
The unit that features the most NFL talent and will determine how successful this team will be. With our line featuring major depth and talent, we have the ability to witness another great defense at UM. The interior line features some great tackles with Nesta Silvera, Jon Ford, Jordan Miller, Jalar Holley, and Jared Harrison-Hunte. The edge will be a nightmare for opposing teams and will be fun to watch each week. I hope Quincy Roche and Gregory Rousseau are able to build from last year and have long careers at the next level.
Behind those two we feature great depth with Jaelan Phillips, Jahfari Harvey, Jason Blissett, and Chantz Williams. I believe these edge rushers have insane potential and can be elite if they want to put in the work. We also have Cam Williams, Quentin Williams, and Elijah Roberts who can all be absolute studs in the future.
A unit that loses great knowledge and experience, but has promise with recent recruiting. Through the last two recruiting cycles, I am pleased with the players Coach Patke has brought in, but wish we had more quantity. I think this year we will see Zach McCloud have a great year and hear his name called in April. I will also add that I think both Avery Huff and Sam Brooks take a huge step in the right direction this year as they grow their bodies, play with confidence, and speed. Our depth is young and thin, and are hopeful to see Corey Flagg and Tirek Austin-Cave get stronger and learn as much as they can.
I am just going to list this as its own group due to how important it is to our success. Romeo Finley absolutely dominated in this role and earned himself a chance to play in the NFL because of it. This year, we will possibly see Gilbert Frierson, Keontra Smith, and Amari Carter all take snaps here and play physical football. This makes our defense even faster and able to keep up with quicker offenses. If we are able to find a pure starter this year, this will help our defense in every category.
The corner situation is the biggest question mark heading into this year. With the loss of Trajan Bandy, who would've taken care of the slot the entire season, Coach Rumph must find new playmakers. Al Blades and DJ Ivey are expected to be starting at the boundary once again and groom into reliable corners. I think TeCory Couch has the toughness to play in the slot, but we are in desperate need of Christian Williams and Isiah Dunson to adapt quickly. I wouldn't be mad if Marcus Clarke got reps and used his speed and instincts to be a great corner at the college level. However, I still believe we must recruit better at this unit and not have to go after “project players”.
This upcoming season, I predict our starters to be Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall. I really think Bubba Bolden is our best safety as of now and if able to add muscle, he has the skillset to be an All-American. Personally, my favorite safety is Gurvan Hall and I really hope this year he puts everything together and becomes a household name by the end of the year. We feature great depth here with our recent recruiting classes and I think we will see Avantae Williams crack the rotation. Depeding on who stays at safety, either Keontra Smith or Amari Carter, they will get reps. For the other incoming safeties, this season will be used for everything off the field as they will get a start on their body, playbook, and focus in the classroom.
WE HAVE A KICKER!!!!!!!
One of the better acquisitions from this offseason, Jose Borregales is set to be our kicker for the 2020 season before passing down the legacy to his brother, Andres Borregales, for the next four years. A unit that first struggled to punt the football 35 yards, to then not being able to make it beyond 20 yards. Now that Miami has resolved both of those issues, we can get a strong performance from our specialist each week and actually help our defense for once!
My biggest take away heading into the season is that Miami has a better roster than practically every team we play. FSU is the only team that has recruited at a consistent high level like us and even then I pencil this W in for Miami. The Hurricanes have the most talented roster on our schedule and that is how it should be here at Miami. Hopefully this is the year Manny Diaz turns it all around as he lets Coach Lashlee have full control of the offense, so it allows Coach Diaz to focus on his strong suit.
Every single hire and commit has been a home run for Miami and I hope to see everything translate this year.