When it comes to the running back position, not many schools can boast as much talent as Miami. From Otis Anderson, to Frank Gore, to Duke Johnson, Miami has regularly been occupied by star running backs.
In this past recruiting class, the Canes landed not one but TWO of the top 20 RBs in the nation. Both Deerfield Beach’s Jaylan Knighton and Belen Jesuit’s Don Chaney Jr. made the decision to stay home and make the crib great over offers from nearly any major school you can imagine.
The two backs have different play styles that should compliment each other very well.
DON CHANEY JR
Chaney was ranked as a top 100 player in the 2020 recruiting class. 247 Sports listed him as the #5 running back in the nation. They also ranked him as a top 100 overall prospect in the class and the #5 back in the nation.
Chaney is a power back with good vision and burst. He’s a back that is tough to bring down both between the tackles or in space.
Chaney was an accomplished track athlete, winning the State Championship in High Jump 3 times. Chaney also showcased his very good speed in sprint events. He used this athleticism on the gridiron, where Chaney Jr. has twice been named the Miami Herald Miami-Dade Athlete of the Year.
At 5’11” 203 lbs, Chaney is a strong back. Chaney Jr. has very good speed, having been timed in the 4.4’s in the 40 yard dash.
Chaney is also Belen’s all-time leading rusher, finishing his prep years with 4,511 yards and 60 touchdowns over five seasons.
Heading into his freshman season at UM, Chaney has dealt with a shoulder injury sustained during the Under Armour All American game back in early January. He is expected to be back to full health by the time Miami opens their season versus Temple on Sept. 5.
Jaylan Knighton is the epitome of a versatile running back. In his time with the Bucks, Knighton proved that he was one of the best pass catching backs in the nation. He has amazing speed and quickness out of the backfield Knighton excels at finding a hole and bursting right through it
Knighton ran for over 5,000 yards in his career at Deerfield Beach, becoming Broward County’s all-time leading rusher ahead of greats such as Fred Taylor and former Cane Otis Anderson.
The 5’10” 178 pound running back had 1,414 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns his senior year, averaging 9.7 yards per carry, while adding 13 receptions for 267 yards and two touchdowns. He helped lead a Deerfield Beach squad that made it to the semifinals in the Florida Class 8A state playoffs.
Knighton was a consensus four-star prospect by every recruiting ranking. 247 Sports listed him as the #10 RB in the country and the #19 player in Florida. They also ranked “Rooster” as the #104 overall prospect in the 2020 recruiting class.
Knighton chose Miami over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, and Florida State among others.
Knighton and Chaney are two of the premier backs from last years class. Both of them have the potential to be incredible in their futures in Coral Gables.
When things get started at Greentree, expect Knighton to compete for touches with an unproven Robert Burns and the expected starter, junior Cam’Ron Harris. Chaney will likely have a harder time getting playing time after missing spring due to injury.
I could envision a scenario in which one of them is RB2 this season and the other receives return duties.
Looking to the future, it isn’t hard to imagine a backfield spearheaded by these two players. They compliment each other well and could terrorize opposing defenses for years to come.
It will be interesting too see how the careers of these two freshmen play out in the next few years.