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Debates on Greentree: Who Will Be the Miami Hurricanes Best Receiver?

Which Hurricanes Will Step Up to the Plate in 2020?

Miami v Pittsburgh Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

One of the ongoing, and HEATED arguments since the beginning of the offseason has centered around the much maligned wide receiver unit of the Miami Hurricanes. The group has been drowning in bad offense, bad coaching and underwhelming quarterback play for a few years. Some argue that the under performing group has mostly itself to blame, arm chair quarterbacks citing lack of ability, lack of separation and lack of desire.

The truth is that even the least talented or hungry player can flourish in the right environment. The right offense can get a player that can’t get separation open and often. Good coaching can pull a Coach Carter and get a troubled Timo Cruz type player to fit a system, practice right and understand.

In the world of favoritism, these excuses and many more are thrown left and right to downplay one player or to stan for another. Ultimately, sports depends on sample sizes and coaches history with a position to see the future, and its no different with what we should expect from the players in the Canes WR room.

For Coach Likens, he has seen success with receivers of varying skill sets.

N’Keal Harry - big (6’3) fast (4.53) and dependable.

Quinton Patton - a short area wiz (4.01 shuttle) with fantastic hands.

Brandon Aiyuk - a dynamic athlete that won with elusiveness

For Coach Lashlee its more of the same.

James Proche - Jack of trades with arguably the best hands in America

Reggie Roberson Jr. - Contested catcher with better long than short speed

Ricardo Louis - Excellent athlete, great size, volume player

As for the most recent Canes History, its hit or miss. Six out out of the Ten top receivers have been seniors, (2 soph, 1/1 Jr and Fr). As far as statistical indicators, its a 50/50 split between seasoned vets progressing like Allen Hurns and Phillip Dorsett, and surprises vaulting to the top like Ahmmon Richards and Rashawn Scott.

A deeper dive over the last 10 seasons dug up some interesting Canes info:

  • Every year a new OC was brought from a different school was a surprise year
  • 3 of 4 new OCs had seniors or R-Jrs lead in yards (Richards the exception)
  • Miami has never had a receiver lead yardage in back to back seasons
  • Half of the leaders were 6’2 or taller, and the other half 5’11 or shorter

SO much data, and VERY unpredictable. From it, arguments can be made for most if not all of the guys in the WR room.

But there can only be one.

I’ve decided to tier and rank the group, going over the chances for that given player to be top dog. I am hopeful this approach can end this argument, but I won’t hold my breath.

Tier 4 - Hail Mary

This group consists of players that, similar to a last chance heave in football, has the smallest possibility of making the biggest on field impact.

8. Xavier Restrepo - Possibly the biggest dog in the room, Restrepo represents what fans love to see in a Miami Hurricane. Tough, devoted, productive. The only issue is that Restrepo is buried behind a senior, Mike Harley, and a big ticket player, Mark Pope, at the slot position. Restrepo’s path likely follows the path of Mike Harley, incrementally increasing his role as the depth chart clears.

7. Dazalin Worsham - Smooth with strong hands, Worsham has the profile of a late bloomer. He needs to continue adding weight and strength, and allow his athleticism to grow with it. Strong hands and solid football IQ should serve him well after a redshirt.

Tier 3 - Deep Shots

Though more likely to hit than a Hail Mary, this tier is for players that are still far out from the top spot.

6. Keyshawn Smith - The late addition from the West Coast has a unique pedigree and skill set that matches the type of offense Lashlee and Co want to deploy. When Lashlee brought in Likens and Justice, it was apparent that he intends to feature an offense similar to the one run with Sunny Dykes at Southern Methodist University. Keyshawn Smith excelled in a very similar offense in high school. Mike Leach, another spread proponent had Smith locked up for that reason until his departure from Washington State.. Smith has great hands and YAC ability, combined with very good size and athleticism. However, what all of Likens and Lashlee’s best receivers have over Smith is seniority. Had he a year or two in college already he may be higher on this list.

Tier 2 - Slant Patterns

Like a slant pattern, its much easier to envision a greater percentage of success for this tier. A short pass here can go to the house if the opportunity arises.

5. Mark Pope - I’ll admit, I am selfishly rooting for Pope to come up big for the Canes to show recruits we won’t waste talent and because he seems to have the full package. His biggest issues may have been timing. His first year was at the end of a terrible offensive display under Mark Richt followed by an even worse one with Dan Enos. With the incoming spread, Pope would seem to finally be here at the right time, with the right skills and age, as a veteran of the room. Two things that precedence has favored, are great hands and a penchant for contact. Pope still has more to prove in these areas. I would not, however, dismiss the chance that Pope could turn into another Brandon Aiyuk, with his elite athleticism and elusiveness hiding his aversion to contact and average hands.

4. Michael Redding III - My dark horse sleeper. If any player can even come close to what Ahmmon Richards did, its Michael Redding III. Redding is the full package. 6’2, 200 pounds, 4.5 40, 4.3 shuttle, 41 inch vert. That’s EEELIIITE. Additionally, Redding cut his teeth at K.J. Osborn’s alma mater, IMG, culminating in a very good show of football acumen and a business like demeanor. His ability to high point, make contested catches and fight are well documented. So why only 4th on the list? Initially one could point to his wrist injury in camp but the current pandemic leveled the playing field in that regard. No freshmen has starred for a Likens or Lashlee offense, and the Canes have had only one freshman represent them as its clubhouse leader in yardage, the aforementioned Ahmmon Richards. So its not anything Redding has done, its just that history doesn’t favor his chances, but I LOVE his prospects.

Tier 1 - Line of Scrimmage

The easiest pass on the field, there is the greatest chance that one of this group will lead the team in yardage, receptions, touchdowns or all of the above.

3. Jeremiah Payton

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 24 Camping World Kickoff - Florida v Miami Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The undisputed favorite of Canes fans, Payton is another nearly full package type, lacking only the great burst Redding displays. Payton makes up for that with an alpha dog mentality and a playmaking ability that allows him to play much faster than he tests. Since he stepped onto Greentree, he has consistently made plays and won coaches over for his toughness and play throughout practice. If not for a redshirt and natural coaching penchant for older players, Payton may have been the leader of the group last year. Payton compares favorably to James Proche and could easily take number one here if the next two buck precedence and decline sharply in their biggest chances to explode.

2. Mike Harley

Louisville v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The resident old man, Mike Harley has displayed the talents and path traditionally seen to capture the top spot statistically. Senior? Check. Bag year? Check. Athleticism? 4.5 40, 4 flat shuttle, 35 inch vert. Check, check and check. What’s more is that Harley has a glowing review from every coach he’s played under and has shown to be professional while showing leadership. It’s a fairly safe bet that Harley, who can run every route on the tree and play in any spot, can break the finish line as the top dog. A Quinton Patton clone, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Harley ends up leading the team in receptions and yards by years end.

Dee Wiggins

Lets get ready to ARRRGUUUEEE!!! Yes, my pick to take it all in the wide receiver room is the affable speedster Dee Wiggins. First things first, yes, I remember the FIU route. Yes, I know he was a 3 star. Yes I can here you alllllllll the way in the back yelling “HANDS!!!”. What you can’t deny, is that when Dee is on, he has shown to be the hardest Hurricane receiver to guard, in press, zone, double team or whatever you want to throw his way. A big help in my decision making was Justin Dottavio’s Article on What Colleges Coaches Look For in a Wide Receiver Prospect.

Going down his list of must haves for a wide receiver prospect, Wiggins can check just about every one.

Toughness - The video above features multiple catches over the middle into traffic that Wiggins takes a lick on while holding onto the ball.

Hands - Wiggins is a hands catcher and a good high pointer from the tape above. Also, only ONE drop last year.

Change of direction and body control - Contested catches and ability to use his body are apparent.

Acceleration and burst - Its been mentioned often that Wiggins was and is the faster player on the team. Inclusive of Jeff Thomas.

He also shows great YAC ability, can block and had nearly half of his catches go for Touchdowns and first downs.

There can only be one, and my one is Dee Wiggins. What do you guys think?


Which Receiver Will Lead the Canes in Yards for 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Dee Wiggins
    (85 votes)
  • 22%
    Mike Harley
    (68 votes)
  • 26%
    Jeremiah Payton
    (80 votes)
  • 20%
    Mark Pope
    (64 votes)
  • 1%
    Michael Redding III
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    (5 votes)
306 votes total Vote Now