The wide receiver position is one that has been discussed heavily this offseason for the Miami Hurricanes, especially with the loss of Jeff Thomas and K.J. Osborn. The biggest question regarding this group is, who’s going to be the consistent producer out of this group? Well for me, the answer to that question is senior slot-receiver Mike Harley.
Harley has seen consistent playing time throughout the last three years at Miami, but it was the 2019 season, where we saw him take that next step into becoming a reliable target at receiver. Last year, Harley had 38 catches, for 485 yards and 3 touchdowns, as he was one of more productive offensive players on Miami in 2019.
38 catches, 485 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2019. I think Mike Harley plays a big role in Miami’s offense this season pic.twitter.com/hW0HHSgqXA— Marsh Thomas (@hurricanesmarsh) July 19, 2020
Now as a senior, I’m expecting Harley to have even a better year in 2020, much like Braxton Berrios did in his final season as a Hurricane.
The biggest thing that I love about Harley is his leadership skills, which is why I compare him to Berrios in a lot of ways. Most people know about his fiery speech Harley made to his teammates midway through the 2019 season, Harley leads by example in everything that he does. This quality is especially important in 2020, as Miami is filled with younger players at the receiver position, and you need that leader to show them the way, which is what Harley brings to the table.
On the football field, it’s Harley’s speed what makes me excited about what he can do this year. Much like fellow receivers Dee Wiggins and Mark Pope, Harley’s quickness will fit perfectly into what new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee is trying to do.
As to who are some of the guys that Rob Likens said flashed a bit during those first four spring practices Miami managed, Dee Wiggins, Mark Pope, Jeremiah Payton and Mike Harley all showed they were "types of guys you want to have in this offense."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) April 9, 2020
Last season, Lashlee’s slot receiver at SMU, James Proche, had a tremendous year, catching 111 passes, for 1,225 yards and 15 touchdowns. Proche was a 6th-round selection for the Ravens in this past NFL Draft.
During the week of spring practice, Harley also drew praise from new WR coach Rob Likens. “I love Mike Harley,” Likens told reporters. “He was a guy that I first went to and talked to and things like that so I like that about him.”
Rob Likens on Mike Harley: "Love Mike Harley, love his leadership when he walks in the room. ... He has some experience, he's courageous across the middle."— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) April 9, 2020
The hiring of Likens I believe will have a very big impact on Harley, as Likens has had two of his receivers drafted in the first round in 2019 and 2020.
And again, the fact that D’Eriq King is now the starting quarterback for Miami, will help these receivers, especially Harley, reach their full potential.
What Harley is able to after the catch as well, sets him apart from the other Hurricanes receivers. In 2019, Harley averaged 12.8 yards per catch, so whenever he catches a pass, he’s doing something with the ball.
In Lashlee’s offense, expect to see Harley lined up in the slot position, and running routes underneath and quick slants, where he’ll be able to catch and run. Perfect example was this play against Louisville last November, where Harley pulled in a slant from Jarren Williams, and then proceeded to run for more yards after the catch. Against the Cardinals, Harley had a career day, with 6 receptions, 116 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Jarren Williams had this offense humming early. First drive, hits Mike Harley and #3 takes it for 41 yards pic.twitter.com/eqaKyHQ36D— Marsh Thomas (@hurricanesmarsh) November 11, 2019
At the end of the day, yes, wide receiver will be a big question mark for Miami in 2020, but Harley is the veteran in the room, and I think he’ll end up surprising a lot of people this season.