As spring practice is now underway for the Hurricanes, one of the biggest questions on offense is how the wide receivers will perform after a disappointing 2020 season as a unit. Mike Harley was the leading receiver with 799 receiving yards, but we didn’t see enough from Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins in their junior seasons.
I’ve never seen our WR’s this bad at Miami. Can’t catch, definitely can’t produce. Start the young guys week 1 next year— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) December 30, 2020
Even with Pope and Wiggins returning for 2021, Canes fans have been quite vocal when it comes to the younger wide receivers getting more playing time, and even becoming starters.
The 2020 recruiting class saw Miami bring in four talented WR’s in Keyshawn Smith, Michael Redding III, Xavier Restrepo and Dazzling Worsham. While we didn’t see much from them during their freshman seasons, that’s likely to change as they prepare for year two at Miami.
Manny Diaz spoke about this Tuesday morning on The Joe Rose Show on 560 WQAM.
“There were two games a year ago where when we went from the third quarter to the fourth quarter, we saw opposing defensive players throwing up on the field due to our tempo. We didn’t have the depth, so we had to play the guys we had because the guys we added in the summer weren’t quite game ready. That isn’t going to be the case this year. This class of wide receivers that we signed a year ago are ready to make contributions,” said Diaz.
“This class of wide receivers that we signed a year ago are ready to make contributions” -Manny Diaz this morning— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) March 17, 2021
Diaz also said that the older receivers are improving, while also mentioning the arrival of transfer portal WR Charleston Rambo, who came to Miami from Oklahoma.
I for one, am ready to see the younger receivers more, a lot more. Harley is going to be a starter and probably Miami’s top target, and I have Rambo also starting, but who is going to be the third starter in the rotation?
My Canes WR spring starter predictions:— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) March 8, 2021
-Mark Pope (4th time is a charm)
As of right now, I honestly think it’ll be Mark Pope who secures the third starting spot, and while that is going to bring moans and groans from the fanbase, I just don't see Rhett Lashlee and Rob Likens starting a 2nd-year WR week-one.
That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want a guy like Keyshawn Smith to start. When speaking to the media on Tuesday, Smith was one of the players that coach Diaz mentioned by name, speaking highly of the California native and what he’s done so far in spring practice.
Manny talked up Keyshawn Smith today said that he was making strides. A young WR making strides ....that what you guys wanted right— Caneville (@caneville305) March 16, 2021
Whether or not Smith, Redding and others start, I guess that’s fine, but they NEED to get more reps and see more targets in the passing game. Pope, Wiggins and Harley are gone after this season, which means these 2nd-year players will then become THE guys at receiver. It’s absolutely crucial that Lashlee gives the younger WR’s all the playing time possible so that they’ll be ready for the future.
It’s time to play these younger wide receivers. Think we can all agree on that— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) October 11, 2020
If you ask me, I think Smith is ready for the big stage, and I wouldn't be surprised if ends the 2021 season as one of the starting receivers. And if he’s not ready for the big stage, at least give him a chance to prove himself. He finished 2020 with only two catches, but you can see the explosiveness and ability to create separation.
Keyshawn Smith had just 1 catch for 16 yards last week, but I think we’ll start seeing more and more of the freshman. Smith played 33 snaps vs Pitt pic.twitter.com/3xWvDq9LYx— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) October 20, 2020
Redding is another player who I believe can make a big jump in his second year. Size wise, Redding sets himself apart from the other Miami WR’s, and his physicality plus ball skills are traits desperately needed for the Canes.
Do we see more Michael Redding this year? pic.twitter.com/fKJtw6EeC6— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) March 17, 2021
But, we’ve seen this before, and have had this discussion hundreds of times as UM fans. Younger players are ready to see more playing time, but will seniority prevail? We’ve seen what Pope and Wiggins can do (or can’t do), it’s time to give the young guys more of a chance to prove themselves.