Transfers and early player departures have become somewhat of a despised tradition for the University of Miami football program as of late.
Since 2019 fall camp began last July, 16 scholarship players who would have had eligibility for the 2020 season have left the Hurricane program.
That includes three players who declared as juniors for the NFL Draft (Jonathan Garvin, Trajan Bandy, Jeff Thomas) and 13 players (Evidence Njoku, Bubba Baxa, Scott Patchan, Michael Irvin II, Zach Dykstra, Lorenzo Lingard, Jarren Williams, Brian Polendey, Derrick Smith, Brian Hightower, Realus George Jr., Tyreic Martin, Nigel Bethel Jr.) who intend to transfer to another school or have already done so.
Who might consider leaving Miami prior to the 2021 season?
Last year’s installment of this article was written in June 2020 and four of the five players highlighted left early for the NFL Draft. Miami also lost one of its three quarterbacks competing for the starting job in 2020 when Williams entered the transfer portal in January.
Transfers are extremely hard to predict but the below underclassmen may have a decision to make about their NFL futures prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.
Rousseau’s 2019 season is one that will not be quickly forgotten in Coral Gables. He finished the season with 15.5 sacks, which tied for second most in a single season in Hurricanes history. He was named a second team FWAA All-American, first team All-ACC and the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. He is currently being projected by a handful of 2021 mock drafts as a top five overall pick despite having three seasons of eligibility left at Miami as of today. Pro Football Focus projected him as the No.4 overall selection. If his production is even close to what it was in 2019, expect the Miami native to forego his final two years of eligibility.
Jordan fought injuries during the 2019 season but still has used his two seasons at Miami to announce his presence nationally. His size and speed make him a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and will likely get him drafted quickly whenever he decides to declare. Pro Football Focus had Jordan being taken with the No.24 pick overall pick of the first round in its 2021 mock draft. He has 782 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 18 games as a Hurricane. If Jordan stays healthy in 2020, he will likely have an opportunity to be drafted very high should he forego his senior season at Miami.
Harris will likely replace DeeJay Dallas as Miami’s go-to running back in the 2020 season. He has 742 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in reserve duty in two seasons as a Hurricane. Miami has a history of running backs leaving early for the NFL Draft dating back to Edgerrin James leaving as a junior and declaring for the 1999 NFL Draft. Miami has had 10 running backs (Dallas, Travis Homer, Mark Walton, Joseph Yearby, Duke Johnson, Lamar Miller, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis and James) leave at least one year of eligibility on the table and leave school early for the draft since the 1998 season. With the lifespan of the running back in the NFL shrinking, might Harris be the 11th? If he has a junior season similar to Dallas’ or Homer’s junior years, he may have something to think about. If Harris did declare after the 2020 season, it would be the fifth consecutive year that Miami had an underclassman running back declare for the NFL Draft and sixth time over the past seven years.
If Miami’s offensive line improves in 2020, would DJ Scaife Jr. think about leaving early? Scaife was Miami’s best offensive lineman in 2019.
Pass catchers have been known to produce in new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s spread attack. Would a big season from Will Mallory, Mark Pope or Dee Wiggins send any of them to the NFL?
In the secondary, Miami has four juniors who will play a big role in Bubba Bolden, Gurvan Hall Jr., Al Blades Jr. and DJ Ivey. All would have the option to declare after the 2020 campaign.
That leaves the interesting case of Jaelan Phillips, the UCLA transfer who has battled injuries during his college career. Phillips did not practice with Miami in 2019 in order to get healthy but did participate in Miami’s four spring practices in March.
Phillips would be an interesting prospect to NFL teams if he has a breakout season behind Rousseau and Quincy Roche in 2020.
How many Miami underclassmen will declare for the 2021 NFL Draft?
This poll is closed