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2020 SOTU Awards: Rookie of the Year - RB Donald Chaney Jr.

A talented back with a plethora of skills, Donald Chaney Jr. is the Canes Rookie of the Year for 2020.

NCAA Football: Miami at Duke Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

While veteran additions to the Miami Hurricanes roster — QB D’Eriq King, DE Quincy Roche, DE Jaelan Phillips (coming off of a redshirt) — may have gotten the majority of the talk before and during the 2020 season, the younger additions were key to the team as well. And for the 2020 season, the SOTU Award for Rookie of the Year goes to RB Donald Chaney Jr.

A 4-star recruit from Miami (FL) Belen Jesuit, Chaney Jr. was a productive HS player, and 3-time State Champion in the high jump, as well. His combination of size, speed, balance, and vision made him a terror on the field playing for a Belen team that did not have another FBS caliber recruit. So, Chaney was a big fish in a small pond, with opposing defenses keying on stopping him to derail Belen’s wing-T offense, and even with that being the case, Chaney was a monster on the field.

After participating in the 2020 Adidas All-American Bowl (formerly known as the U.S. Army All-American game for anyone confused), Chaney was among the 14 Early Enrollees to join the Canes in January. Unfortunately, Chaney Jr. wasn’t able to participate in spring drills (limited though they were) as he was recovering from shoulder surgery. Yet and still, with only 2 other game-ready backs in the RB room (Cam’ron Harris and fellow early-enrollee freshman Jaylan Knighton), there was a chance for Chaney to come in and contribute. And he did.

Chaney wasted no time flashing his elite skillset in the opener against UAB. His 8 carries for 52 yards were actually 4th among rushers during the game (Miami ran for 338 yards on the day) but Chaney had a couple runs that were just a step from breaking even bigger than they did.

Chaney took a backseat to Harris and Knighton in the Louisville blowout, before stepping up big against rival FSU. He had 7 carries for 35 yards and 2 TDs in the 52-10 blowout of the bums from Tallahassee. And things went up from there.

Throughout the season, Chaney’s play continued to improve, and he showed, to my eye at least, plenty of evidence that he should be the starting running back for the Canes. He’s big at 210lbs, quick, and physical in the run game. At times Miami struggled to run the ball, but then Chaney came in the game, and things started moving. That is something Miami should lean on moving forward, in my opinion.

For the year, Chaney finished with 68 carries for 322 yards (4.74 yards per carries) and 3 TDs. He also added 11 catches for 143 yards out of the backfield as well.

Chaney shows the ability to be a featured runner and solid receiver out of the backfield as well. And among the rookies this year, he was our clear winner for this SOTU award.


  • DT Jared Harrison-Hunte (elevated to starter, 17 tackles, 6 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 FF, 1 blocked FG in 8 games)
  • RB Jaylan Knighton (52 carries, 209 yards, 1 TD, 11 catches, 135 yards, 1 TD, 6 KR, 118 yards)
  • DE Jahfari Harvey (18 tackles, 5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 5 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble)

Congrats to Donald Chaney Jr, the 2020 SOTU Award winner for Rookie of the Year! It’s only up from here!

Go Canes