Through an up and down 7-5 season for the Hurricanes in 2021, one of the major bright spots for Miami was the production from receivers Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley. Rambo finished the year with 79 receptions, for 1,172 yards and 7 touchdowns, while Harley ended 2021 with 57 catches, 543 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns.
While the two meshed well with new quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, both Harley and Rambo are now gone to the NFL, which leaves Miami’s offense looking for their new number-one target at wide out.
With Van Dyke coming off a successful season, establishing himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC, the Canes WR’s will need to step up in 2022 as Miami’s offense will continue to air it out.
Where does Tyler Van Dyke rank among returning QBs? Top 20? 10?— Unnecessary Roughness (@UnnecRoughness) January 21, 2022
The Miami QB threw for 2931 yards and 25 TDs in just 9 games started this season. pic.twitter.com/a7Z39l6Yjq
The first three choices are veteran receivers Keyshawn Smith, Xavier Restrepo and Frank Ladson. Restrepo is Miami’s leading returning receiver, as he finished his second season at UM with 24 receptions, for 373 yards and 2 touchdowns. Working out of the slot, Restrepo showed improvement throughout 2021 in terms of creating separation and getting open for Van Dyke.
Xavier Restrepo with his first career TD at Miami. Very bright future with this kid ? pic.twitter.com/m2Rrsd590P— CanesCorner (@canescorner_) September 4, 2021
Smith was expected to take a major leap in 2021, and flashed what he can do at times, finishing the season with 26 receptions, 332 yards and 3 touchdowns. I’ve always been a big fan of Smith and his flashing speed, he’s going to be more consistent in 2022. Though, with Rambo and Harley gone, Smith has a great opportunity to become a major target.
First offensive possession of the game and we’re in 3rd and long down 7-0. TVD delivers a dime to Keyshawn Smith. Clutch throw early to set the tone for what was to come. pic.twitter.com/6ZewgltsFi— Canes Legacy (@CanesLegacy) October 31, 2021
Then there’s Ladson, who transferred to Miami from Clemson recently. During his Clemson career, Ladson totaled 31 receptions, for 428 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was limited to only 5 games in 2021 due to an injury.
A 4-star recruit coming out of high school, Ladson has the talent to be a top wide receiver in college football, but now that he’s back home in Miami, it’s time for him to finally put it all together.
Ladson has impressive size at 6-3 and 205 pounds, with exceptional speed as well to along with it. With his favorable package, Ladson could replace Rambo as Van Dyke’s go-to target and deep threat.
We then move to the younger receivers, notably Romello Brinson, Jacolby George and Brashard Smith.
As a freshman in 2021, Brinson had just 7 catches, 90 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. While he didn’t see many targets as the year went on, I think he has potential to crack the starting lineup in 2022. Brinson is your prototypical outside receiver, with solid hands and impressive fluidity running routes. Look for him to make some noise this year.
George is another player, like Brinson, who I see having a much larger role in the Canes offense this upcoming year. Personally, I think George has the highest upside, maybe of any other receiver on Miami’s roster. The position seems to come easy for George, looking like a natural when it comes to his route running, etc.
Coming out of Miami Palmetto High School, I was incredibly high on Brashard Smtih, and still very much am. He showed flashes of his playmaking ability in his first season, and hopefully the Hurricanes will figure out more ways to get him involved on offense.
The Canes offense will still have Will Mallory and Elijah Arroyo at tight end catching passes, and running back Jaylan Knighton posed a serious threat as a receiver, but we saw how effective Miami can be when they have a legitimate threat at wide receiver.
So who will step up this fall?