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Miami Hurricanes 2020 Player Profile: Offensive Lineman DJ Scaife

DJ Scaife’s Versatility will be a Catalyst to Lead a Developing Offensive Line

Miami Hurricanes Spring scrimmage Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Even though the offensive line, and offense altogether, was a complete mess last season for the Canes, one bright spot was the team’s Offensive MVP, DJ Scaife Jr. According to PFF, Scaife was the highest rated offensive lineman for Miami in 2019. In addition, Scaife was only faulted for giving up 3 sacks all season - an offensive line that gave up an abysmal 51 sacks. Scaife also allowed only 18 QB pressures at right tackle during 499 pass blocking snaps.

While Delone Scaife’s QB protection numbers were stellar last season while he was mostly featured at RT, I expect Scaife to really shine in creating a top notch rushing attack in 2020. The Miami Southridge product (transferred from Miami Killian) is expected to move to the interior and line up at RG, where he has started in the team’s scrimmage play so far in fall camp. The 6’3”, 314lb lineman put on 14 pounds during the offseason, which caters to the inside position.

During Miami’s first fall scrimmage game, the run game shined as RBs Jaylan Knighton and Donald Chaney Jr., as well as WR Xavier Restrepo, all rushed for TDs. It is unclear exactly what play schemes resulted in the dominant run game during the scrimmage, but it very well could have been the byproduct of adequate hole creation on the interior of the line, which featured Scaife. As indicated by the embedded tweeted photo below, Scaife is not only able to create massive holes for the inside run game but can keep up down the field with the rest of the offense, including WR Jeremiah Payton.

For background, as Scaife enters his Junior season, he has started 20 games and seen action in 25 total games. He started all 13 games last year and seven games as a freshman. Scaife has predominantly lined up in game action at RT, but, during his recruiting process, he was projected to be a Guard at the collegiate level. With the extra size added to his frame and his versatility in general, there is reason to be excited for the projected switch to RG for 2020. In addition to his experience at RT, he practiced mostly at LT going into the 2019 season, moved to RG for the season opener, but was then immediately moved to RT, where he spent the bulk of the season.

It is not a complete surprise that Scaife saw experience as a freshman, as he came out of high school as the 149th ranked player nationally, and was voted to participate in the Under Armour All-Star Game prior to enrolling early at the U. At Miami Southridge, Scaife was teammates with current Cane WRs Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins. The Miami native, Scaife, committed to the Canes early during his recruiting process, choosing the Canes over offers from Syracuse and Mississippi State. After he signed, he was one of ten freshman to enroll early in 2018, which assisted with Scaife’s immediate impact by participating in Miami’s strength program, and more time to improve his skills at all the positions.

Now, with immense experience under his belt, Scaife will be called upon to optimize his athleticism in the new uptempo spread offense.

“You are going to get tired, but we will get used to it after a while,” Scaife said when speaking of the spread offense.

What a Miami fan can expect is a very aggressive and athletic offensive lineman when I step on the field. My style of play is like no other, and I finish at the echo of the whistle.”

It is clear that Scaife has become a weight room machine in order to build upon his already sound technique. Scaife shows a tenacious ability to drive defenders and shows quick hands and feet when protecting the backfield. As to the versatility, OL Coach, Garin Justice, has spoken highly of Scaife’s ability to occupy any OL position. Scaife has also echoed that sentiment.

“Anywhere,” Scaife said of which position he feels most comfortable at. “At guard, you have to be more powerful. At tackle, you have to have more speed.”

In a revamped offensive trench, Scaife will need to serve as a catalyst in 2020 and is expected to be the leader of the offense due to his team accolades and experience. In contrast to last year’s O-Line, the starting offensive line should have some synchrony as a unit as Scaife is expected to line up with other veterans Corey Gaynor (RS Jr), John Campbell Jr. (RS Sophomore), and Ousman Traore (Sophomore). Add in veteran transfer, Jarrid Williams, experienced depth with Zion Nelson, Jakai Clarke, and Cleveland Reed Jr., as well as youth with freshmen Jalen Rivers and Issiah Walker Jr. (pending waiver), and the O-Line appears to be in good shape.

Goals for Scaife in 2020? Besides the obvious offensive goals to improve the entire front line, which should not be too difficult sheerly based on last year’s atrocity, Scaife has a decent individual platform to improve upon after being named Miami’s 2019 Offensive MVP. As the leader of the offensive line, All-ACC is a reasonable goal. If Miami’s offense has a breakout season and Scaife continues to be the impetus behind that, then a loftier individual goal includes striving to be on the short list for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best college football interior lineman. Beyond that, Scaife should be on NFL scouts’ radars when he leaves Miami.

“There is a reason he was the MVP last year,” Justice said. “He is a guy that really flashes and shows up. The thing about Scaife is that he has that dog about him and that ‘it’ where he is a competitor and loves to play football. Fundamentally, there are some things we need to fix, but when it comes to ball, he loves ball and he is a competitor and one of our more talented guys.”