Looking at the 2021 Hurricanes offense, Miami will of course return quarterback D’Eriq King, running back Cam’Ron Harris, and every single starter on the offensive line. Still, one of the biggest factors in the Canes offense improving even more this season, and reaching their goals as a team, will be the play of wide receiver Mike Harley.
After minimal production his first two years at Miami, Harley started to show what he could do towards the end of the 2019 season. In 2020, he started off slow, but then caught fire during the second half of the year, finishing with 57 receptions, for 799 yards and 7. Harley was the only wide receiver for the Hurricanes who was consistent at the end of the season.
Returning for his fifth and final season at UM, Harley is without question, the number-one receiver for King and the Canes offense. Charleston Rambo will serve as a solid second option, but this is Harley’s room, and Miami needs for him to deliver.
Who’s going to be the other starter at WR, I have no idea. Could be Mark Pope, Dee Wiggins, Keyshawn Smith, who knows. But what we all do know, Harley is the guy.
Personally, I'm very confident in Harley this season and what he’s capable of doing. Rhett Lashlee and King know how important Harley is to the Hurricanes moving the ball downfield, so he’ll be getting plenty of targets each game.
The biggest thing for Harley however, there’s no time to wait for him to get hot in the passing game. Through the first 5 games of the 2020 season, Harley wasn't a factor on offense, with just 15 receptions, 174 yards and 1 touchdown. And while he did step up big time in the final 6 weeks, let’s hope he doesn’t have another slow start in 2021.
Great to see Mike Harley scoring his first touchdown of the season. Hopefully we see more of #3 as the season goes on pic.twitter.com/T6UHCX3Pol— Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) October 20, 2020
I’m very excited about Rambo and think he’ll pan out well at Miami, and Will Mallory is a great option to throw to at tight end, but if Harley isn’t delivering, you’d have think the Canes passing game will struggle, just because of the uncertainty with the rest of the WR’s.
If you rewatch games from last year, it was obvious how much King depended on Harley later in the season. Especially when Pope and Wiggins weren’t producing, and Brevin Jordan was injured, Harley was really one of the only reliable options to throw to.
Mike Harley Jr. in the past five games:— 305 Sports (@305Sportss) December 7, 2020
• 28 receptions
• 526 receiving yards
• 5 touchdowns
The senior receiver is making an impact as of late pic.twitter.com/U6nyoFbSu9
Against NC State for example, when Miami was pinned down at their own 6-yard line on 2nd and 18, down by four in the 4th quarter, it was Harley who hauled in the big reception for a first down. A few plays later on 3rd and 7, it was Harley who took a quick slant 54 yards and turned it into the go-ahead touchdown.
Mike harley 8 rec 153 yards 2 TD’s pic.twitter.com/glm7IcOmvN— 365CANESFOOTBALL (@365canesinfo) November 9, 2020
Even against UVA, where Miami escaped with just a 19-14 win, Harley was still able to move the chains for King and the offense when they needed a first down. He ended the night with 10 catches, 170 yards and a touchdown.
Mike Harley was on a MISSION tonight.— 305 Sports (@305Sportss) October 25, 2020
Harley’s 165 yards receiving are the most by a Canes receiver since Phillip Dorsett (205 yards, 2 touchdowns) in 2014, per Manny Navarro. pic.twitter.com/tNc589BcIm
Harley was clutch in 2020, with 14 receptions, 201 yards and 2 touchdowns coming on 3rd downs alone. 40 of his 57 catches last season came when Miami was either tied, or down by a score or more.
Prayer changes things! More Work To Do! https://t.co/FVwMIye7eF— Michael Harley Jr. (@MikeHarleyjr) May 14, 2021
I think we’ll see Lashlee want to throw the ball even more in 2021, and I see Harley having his best season yet at Miami. We also have to keep in mind, Harley is closing in on breaking the all-time Miami record for career receptions (173) and career receiving yards (2,546 yards). Following last year, Harley now has 125 career receptions and 1,615 career receiving yards. So if he has a big season, those records could be his.
Santana Moss : 2,546 YDS— Jasmaine P. ✍ (@Truly_Jas) May 12, 2021
Michael Irvin : 26 TDS
Reggie Wayne : 173 REC
Those stats above are UM Career highs.
If Mike Harley Jr averages 1.5 TDS, 84 YDS & 4.3 REC, EACH game (for 11 games), he will surpass all three of those WRs. #LifeOfMike #RunItBack pic.twitter.com/7z48eRTBYR
He’s also listed his personal goals for 2021: 70+ receptions, 1,200+ receiving yards, 10+ touchdowns, one punt return/kick return for a touchdown, first-team All ACC. Two of his other goals is to break both Miami receiving records.
If he accomplishes those numbers, or even comes close, I like Miami’s chances in 2021.