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Miami Hurricanes Offseason Mid-Week Musings and Updates

Zion Nelson Top Five NFL Pick? D’Eriq King a Heisman Favorite? As well as Dan Morgan (re)-Joins the Panthers, Freshmen Report to Coral Gables, and the Second Wave of the Transfer Portal

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NCAA Football: Cheez-It Bowl-Oklahoma State vs Miami Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

As we approach the dog days of Summer, all is pretty quiet in the Miami Canes rumor mill. Thus, there is not all that much substantial to report. That being said, as always, there is still plenty to talk about. Here are my top updates, speculation, and general musings, based on what has recent happenings:

Miami Legend Headed Back To Carolina

This past week, the Carolina Panthers hired University Miami legend and college football Hall of Fame linebacker, Dan Morgan, to become the team’s assistant General Manager. As their GM, Scott Fitterier, reworks their scouting department, they bring in a former Panthers player who holds the record for combined tackles in a Super Bowl as he tallied 18 against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Morgan moves on from director of player personnel for the Buffalo Bills, where one of his final moves was drafting University of Miami EDGE defender, Gregory Rousseau, with the 30th pick overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Morgan, who was a physical defender at Miami and in the NFL, will have the opportunity to work with a physical CB in Carolina’s eighth overall pick, Jaycee Horn. Horn, son of former WR Joe Horn, also worked with newly hired Miami defensive backs coach, Travaris Robinson, at University of South Carolina. It all comes back to the U.

May the Odds be in King’s Favor

While things are slow during the offseason, Vegas remains active in projected odds. And that includes with regards to high hopes for current, and former, Miami players.

Of note, Miami’s QB, D’Eriq King, currently has the sixth best odds to win the 2021 Heisman Trophy according to William Hill Sportsbook , trailing only a small faction of top teams’ QBs: Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma), DJ Uiagalelei (Clemson), Bryce Young (Alabama), JT Daniels (Georgia), and Sam Howell (UNC). For what its worth, his 2020 odds were once the favorite ahead of the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and every one else in college football.

Regardless, expectations are high for the indisputable QB1 at Miami who is on the comeback trail after suffering an ACL tear in the Cheez-It Bowl this past December. King has reportedly been “smashing every benchmark” in recovery and remains ahead of schedule in his return. He also is one of the highest-graded returning QBs headed into the 2021 season. The dual-threat QB is a natural leader and amassed a 2021 passing stat line of 211-of-329, 2,685 yards, 23 TDs, 5 INTs, as well as 538 rushing yards and 4 rushing TDs, which was his first season in Miami.

While we’re on the subject of odds, EDGE defender and 18th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jaelan Phillips, started at 10/1 odds to win Defensive Rookie of the Year according to William Hill Sportsbook. The newest Miami Dolphin has the 4th best odds in the league to win the award, only trailing Micah Parsons, Kwity Paye, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Rousseau is listed at 25/1 odds.

The Road to Zion’s 2022 NFL Draft Stock

With the 2021 NFL Draft now in the rearview mirror, @OldTakesExposed is certainly bookmarking all of the draft pundits who are releasing their way-too-early 2022 draft predictions. This includes my own Miami-based Mock Draft Projection, which is not immune to plenty of scrutiny. However, the most popular name out of the U that has appeared in a plethora of mock drafts is projected starting Left Tackle, Zion Nelson. Nelson especially caught waves when he was projected as fifth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals in ESPN Draft Expert, Todd McShay’s, way-too-early mock draft.

McShay added some commentary for Nelson, who definitely has an NFL-tackle frame, but needs to play consistently at a top tier level for this projection to be realized:

“He’s a 6-foot-5, 316-pounder,” McShay said. “Didn’t give up a sack the entire last season, really improved from his sophomore to his junior year and I expect him to continue to improve in that area. I think this year, we’re going to see more offensive and defensive linemen earlier in the draft.”

Miami Safety, Bubba Bolden, has also been a frequent flier of the way-too-early mock draft boards and was projected at 20th by McShay. Bolden’s biggest knock in 2020 was his lack of consistency. If he exhibits wire-to-wire quality repetitions in coverage, closing on tackles, and reading the backfield in 2021, then the projections could pan out accordingly.

Other Miami players who have been mocked in the first round at this juncture are King at No. 11 overall and tight end, Will Mallory, at 32nd overall. My early projections to sneak into the early rounds include a pair of transfers, CB Tyrique Stevenson, who plays physical and will increase in value if his outside coverage capabilities continue to improve, and WR Charleston Rambo, who impressed this spring.

Freshmen Reporting

Later this week, Miami expects a slew of true freshman to report to Coral Gables to begin preparing for the fall, including James Williams, Leonard Taylor, Laurence Seymore, Romello Brinson, Jacolby George, Brashard Smith, and Kahlil Brantley. In fact, some of the players have already chosen their jersey numbers as Brinson will wear number 0, George will wear number 15

At the NFL level, 2021 rookies have also selected their numbers as Phillips will don 15, Rousseau number 50, Quincy Roche number 48, and Brevin Jordan number 9.

Second Wave of the Transfer Portal

Earlier this week, there was speculation that Clemson WR, Justyn Ross, may be transferring. He quickly dispelled of those rumors, but that does not mean other key players could be in the transfer mix over the next few weeks. It appears Miami lost out on former five star LB, Palaie Gaoteote, who went to the same high school as Jordan and Bolden, but appears to be transferring to Texas.

There were rumors linking Notre Dame WR, Jordan Johnson, to Miami, but he recently committed UCF. Vanderbilt LB, Dimitri Moore, is rumored to be interested in Miami.

As far as transfer exits, as expected, Miami recently saw QB N’Kosi Perry choose FAU as his next destination. Perry decided to stay local after shining in the Cheez-It Bowl where he replaced King. RB, Robert Burns, elected to transfer to UConn.

The next few weeks will be interesting to monitor as far as incoming players to Miami (ideally with a focus on LB and maybe DB or WR) and potential departures.