Manny Diaz’s second year as head coach saw improvements going from 6-7 in 2019 to 8-3 in 2020. A significant impact for the Hurricanes success this season was heavy involvement in the transfer portal. Without Diaz locating talent in the portal last year Miami loses out on key players who led this team to 8 wins. Six starters on the roster were former transfers from the past 2 years. Big names like D’Eriq King, Quincy Roche, Jaelan Phillips, Bubba Bolden, and Jose Borregales all were crucial bouncing back in 2020.
With possibly more than half of those former Canes transfers entering the 2021 NFL Draft, where can Miami look to find the newest transfer portal star? Here are some names to be on the lookout for:
Palaie Gatoteote IV - ILB
The 6’2” linebacker out of Bishop Gorman High School was a 5-star recruit back in 2018. The dominant ILB committed to USC and had a good freshman year recording 38 tackles and 2 sacks. He played in the Trojans first two games this season before injuries occurred and he announced he was entering the transfer portal. Miami should be a top contender for Palaie in 2021 as Brevin Jordan and Bubba Bolden both played at Bishop Gorman with him. Miami needs some more depth at linebacker and adding a highly talented player like Palaie would do so.
Samori Toure - WR
The 6’3” receiver recorded 87 receptions for 1,495 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2019. He set a playoff record in the FCS playoffs with 303 receiving yards against Southland in the first round that year. Samori Toure is a name to watch out for if Manny Diaz looks for a pass catcher. Miami could be interested in landing a big name WR after a poor season from the group in 2020 where the only player who stepped up was senior Mike Harley. It seemed that the Canes were lacking a tall wideout with a bigger frame. While the Hurricanes have been in contact with Toure, expect a number of other schools to jump into the mix.
Deandre Johnson - DE
Defensive end Deandre Johnson tallied up 28 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2020 with Tennessee. He played at Miami Southridge High School and is familiar with South Florida. With edge rushers and previous transfer portal finds Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche both declaring for the NFL Draft, Miami is in need for a playmaker at that spot. The Canes were so low at the defensive end spot that redshirt senior linebacker Zach McCloud started at edge against Oklahoma State in the Cheez-It Bowl.
These certainly won’t be the only names on Miami’s transfer portal watch list, but they are based off the biggest needs for the team right now entering 2021. If Diaz can be as successful as he was last year bringing transfers in, the Canes will be in great shape.