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Do The Canes Have Enough to Contend: Running Backs

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Part 2 of 10 where we examine if the Miami Hurricanes Running Backs are good enough to make the CFB Playoffs.

Miami v Duke Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Miami has 1 goal every year, and that is to win a National Championship in football. Yes, there are other small goals along the way, including beating FSU, winning the Coastal, getting to and winning the ACC title, but the ultimate goal is to put Championship trophy #6 in the trophy case. Unfortunately, outside of 2005 and 2017, the Canes haven’t been in the discussion past the month of September in most years. The question has always come up, whether it was coaching, QB play, or the overall talent on the field.

This will be part 2 of a 10 part series where I ask the question, do the Canes have enough to contend for the College Football Playoffs?

DeeJay Dallas left early to go play in the NFL, but the Canes loaded up with the best one two punch in the country in freshman Donald Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton to play behind incumbents Cam’Ron Harris and Robert Burns. Miami is RBU, as the Canes have the NFL’s #3, 13, 30, 32 and 41st all-time rushing yards leaders, and now with Edgerrin James headed to the Hall of Fame, the Canes have one of the greats in Canton. Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis and Otis Anderson are some other notable NFL alum, and guys like Melvin Bratton, Cleveland Gary, Duke Johnson, Alonzo Highsmith, Travis Homer and others had great Miami careers. This group looks to be explosive and maybe just enough depth to put up monster numbers.

Does Miami have enough at Running Back to make the college football playoffs? Let’s examine.

Cam’Ron Harris - Harris is a 5’10” 210lb bowling ball with legs. When the blocking in front of him has been good, he’s shown a one cut downhill style that should work well in this new spread system. Harris has averaged over 5 YPC in his Miami career and will now be given the first crack at being the number one back. Is he elite enough to help lead a team to their lofty goals? That’s a question that remains to be answered, but what we do know is when given the opportunity to play Harris has responded in a positive way as shown in an 18 carry 136 yard performance against Georgia Tech.

Robert Burns - Burns was often injured before finally getting a chance to play in 2019. Burns was solid, but not spectacular as the team’s number 3 back, and may have to fight for time with more talented freshmen coming on campus. If he can carve out a role as the team’s pounding presence, he can contribute and must be able to play on special teams as well. Look for Robert to get some goalline carries, and maybe a few snaps as the number 2 back behind Harris.

Donald Chaney Jr. - One of two highly rated freshmen who will lace them up for Miami this fall. Chaney Jr. comes in with plenty of accolades checking in as the #42 player on ESPN’s Top 300. Chaney Jr. amassed 60 TDs and over 4000 yards rushing in his highschool career, and should have a chance to play early and often at Miami. He’s equipped with 4.4 speed, behind a 203lb frame.

Jaylan Knighton - Nicknamed Rooster, the 5’9” 185lb Deerfield Beach product sent Canesville into a frenzy when he decided to commit to Miami. Much like Donald Chaney Jr., Knighton will have ample opportunity to play for Miami as a freshman. Although not the biggest back, Rooster has the ability to not only run by defenders but run them over as well. Knighton could be a player to watch for in the return game as well. Knighton was ranked #88 on ESPN’s Top 300 players, and will have a lot of fanfare around him when he gets on the field.

Verdict

The Canes have some super talented backs, although they are young, and in Burns’ case relatively unproven. For the 1st time, Miami got the truly elite guys to stay home, and those dividends should pay off down the road. For 2020, Miami has adequate talent at RB to compete for the ACC Coastal, but for them to be CFB Playoff contenders, Harris and one of the freshmen will have to have special seasons.

Miami is one more recruiting cycle away from being really close to elite in the backfield.

Go Canes