It is difficult to imagine where Miami’s offensive line would have been without guard Jakai Clark during the 2019 season.
After not participating in the season opener against Florida, Clark started the final 12 games of the season at right guard and brought some stability to a putrid unit.
With the work that new offensive line coach Garin Justice has done to improve his unit for the 2020 season, where will that leave Clark in his true sophomore season?
Clark projects best as an interior lineman because of his size (6-foot-2, 309 pounds) and was recruited to Miami to play center out of Loganville, Georgia. Since Corey Gaynor will likely play the center spot again for the Hurricanes this season, that leaves Clark to play left or right guard in 2020.
With Navaughn Donaldson opting to take a redshirt year in 2020, Clark and DJ Scaife Jr. are the returning Hurricane lineman with the most starts who have experience playing interior spots.
Scaife could also be used at tackle depending on how that competition shakes out.
The competition for the left and right guard positions will be intriguing this fall because of Justice’s new coaching style and new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s spread offense.
Expect Ousman Traore, John Campbell Jr. and Cleveland Reed Jr. to get every opportunity to try and win a starting spot on the interior of Miami’s offensive line in fall camp. After how bad Miami was up front in 2019, Justice won’t be handing out starting spots in 2020 based on past performance.
With COVID-19 changing the college football landscape daily, having depth at key positions will be more important than ever as the season goes along this fall.
Whether Clark starts or not, he likely will have some type of prominent role on Miami’s offensive line in 2020.