clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Miami Hurricanes 2022 Spring Position Preview: Wide Receivers

New, comments

With the departure of key productivity in wideouts, Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley Jr., as well as staff turnover with Rhett Lashlee and Rob Likens, Josh Gattis looks to carry success with a deep receiving core

NCAA Football: Alabama at Miami Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Miami enters 2022 with a deep but relatively inexperienced wide receiving group. Even more, the Canes have immense turnover as two of the most productive targets in Miami’s history, Mike Harley Jr. and Charleston Rambo, depart for the NFL (they also see departures in players who did not quite flourish in Miami in Dee Wiggins, Mark Pope, and Jeremiah Payton). Not only is the on-field dynamic significantly altered for this season, but the coaching staff also looks a lot different as their 2021 offensive coordinator and wide receiver coach, Rhett Lashlee and Rob Likens, depart for SMU.

As most alterations with this team, the Hurricanes have a lot to be excited about with the outlook of their wide receiving core in 2022. For one, they return a quarterback who established himself as one of the best deep ball passers in the nation down the stretch in Tyler Van Dyke. They also bring in the 2021 Broyles Award winner and Michigan’s former offensive coordinator, Josh Gattis. Gattis is labeled as the OC and wide receivers coach, the latter of which he has strong background dating back to experience in that area since 2011.

In Ann Arbor, the Wolverines did not have one or two standout receivers. Rather, Gattis’ play call called for distributing the ball amongst the targets as Michigan had no WR with more than 630 yards or 40+ receptions. However, 11 players had 10+ targets (9 players had 15+ receptions) and 10 of those had 130+ receiving yards (includes RBs/TEs).

That being said, Gattis’ approach is not scheme-specific as he has worked with all types of receivers ranging from power slot (Chris Godwin), speed machines (Henry Ruggs, DeVonta Smith), bid-bodied targets (Nico Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Jordan Matthews), and route-running technicians (Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle). As to Miami, they have the personnel to allow Van Dyke to air it out to speedy vertical threats like Key’Shawn Smith, Frank Ladson Jr., Jacolby George, and Brashard Smith, or deliver to contested catch targets such as Michael Redding III and Romello Brinson, or get the ball to the reliable route runners such as Xavier Restrepo and darkhorse breakout option, Dazalin Worsham.

Not only does Miami welcome Gattis, but they also bring in former URI wide receivers coach, Donovan Varner, who will be the Offensive Analyst for the running backs. Varner helped develop wide receiver, Isaiah Coulter at URI, who was the first Ram drafted since 1986. URI also placed another wide receiver into the NFL in Aaron Parker that year.

Meet the 2022 Spring Wide Receiver Class:

Xavier Restrepo (#7): 5’10”, 195 (2021 Stats - 12 Games Played, 24 Receptions, 373 Yards, 2 TDs) Despite accumulating less than 400 receiving yards, Restrepo is the most productive returning wide receiver and also has significant rapport with Van Dyke as his roommate. Restrepo is a hard-working player who is willing to do the dirty work as a young leader and tough competitor. In that regard, the X-Man will likely be utilized schematically by Gattis in a variety of across-the-middle or sweeps plays. Restrepo has only played 327 offensive snaps over his first two seasons but will certainly be a steady presence in year three. As TVD and Restrepo continue to grow together, expect him to also be the reliable option somewhat like a safety blanket.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Key’Shawn Smith (#5): 6’0”, 182 (2021 Stats - 9 Games Played, 26 Receptions, 332 Yards, 3 TDs) Smith took a big step in 2021 as he showed off his elite speed and is capable of taking the top off the defense in the deep threat role. Smith most notably has the capability to break plays open on deep patterns and on simple screen passes. Smith needs to emerge a bit more in 2022, which is entirely possible as he will likely work with the first team this spring.

Brashard Smith (#12): 5’10”, 194 (2021 Stats - 9 Games Played, 14 Receptions, 199 Yards, 2 TDs) Similar to Key’Shawn, Brashard also has immense speed and showed on a couple occasions in 2021 that he can easily break open the offense. Of note, Smith has only played 50 snaps in two seasons but makes the most of his opportunity while on the field as he had 14 receptions, 199 yards, and 2 touchdowns in 2021. Between Key’Shawn and Brashard, the Smiths should provide TVD with ample opportunity to air it out.

Jacolby George (#15): 6’0”, 176 (2021 Stats - 8 Games Played, 7 Receptions, 183 Yards, 1 TD) Similar to Brashard, George has not had immense exposure snap-wise as he has only played 83 offensive snaps. George can also break a game open as he averaged over 26 yards a catch and can provide an explosive element to the Canes’ offense with some good change-of-direction prowess. He has also added 12 pounds.

Romello Brinson (#0): 6’2”, 185 (2021 Stats - 4 Games Played, 7 Receptions, 90 Yards, 1 TD) Brinson is the only receiver listed as out at the start of the Canes’ spring slate. Ideally, it is not a serious setback as Brinson had one of the most impressive 50-50 acrobatic catches on the season on his lone receiving touchdown. To that end, with the departure of Rambo who displayed great contested catchability on the 2021 season, Brinson presents the best option as far as jump ball receiver within this Canes’ corps.

Frank Ladson Jr. (#8): 6’3”, 205 (2021 Stats, Clemson - 4 Games Played, 4 Receptions, 19 Yards) Ladson, who hails from Miami originally (South Dade High), is a former borderline five-star (No. 39 recruit in the 2019 class) who is hoping for a bounceback season similar to Rambo. To that end, Ladson compiled 409 receiving yards and three touchdowns in his first two seasons and is arguably the most naturally gifted player on the depth chart. However, he was bothered by a hip injury around mid-season in 2021 at Clemson, which ended up requiring surgery. Ladson is the biggest receiver amongst the receiving group and hopes to emulate the success of previous transfers such as K.J. Osborn and Rambo. Ladson will most likely be used to stretch the field as a vertical threat.

Michael Redding III (#83): 6’2”, 202 (2021 Stats - 1 Game Played, 1 Reception, 3 Yards) Redding III is another option that missed the bulk of 2021 as he was sidelined due to a labrum injury, which also required surgery. In the early stages of spring practice, Redding III appears healthy and good to go. This is exciting news as he offers another big-bodied wideout option who could be used as a red zone threat, contested catch specialist, or on short passing downs for screen passes that require powering through for a few yards. The dimension he adds on short jump balls and an offensive bruiser that can play punisher on undersized CBs. He still has not seen much action but did record a touchdown in 2020.

Dazalin Worsham (#19): 6’2”, 202 (2021 Stats - No Recorded Stats) Worsham has yet to record any stats but this may have been purposeful as he checks in at 202 pounds this year after being roughly 180 pounds going into last season. He also had a hip injury prior to his arrival in Miami in 2020. The Alabama native, and one time Roll Tide commit, shows some quickness and an ability to operate out of various routes with reliable hands. Daz is a bit of a sleeper in a packed receiver room, but hopefully packed on some strength in the weight room to become a target this year.

Dante Johnson (#88): 6’2”, 205 (2021 Stats - No Recorded Stats) The hero of last year’s spring game will at the least be a nice practice squad member especially to put the DBs to the test.

Mykel Tubbs (#47): 6’3”, 197 (2021 Stats - No Recorded Stats) Tubbs will be a practice squad member.

Isaiah Horton: 6’3”, 190 (1st Year) Horton has signed but is not enrolled yet, according to 247Sports. This likely signifies the four-star could be on the redshirt track but the four-star has promise to contribute in the future.

Way-Too-Early Projected Depth Chart:

Wide Receiver 1: Key’Shawn Smith | Romello Brinson | Dazalin Worsham
Wide Receiver 2: Frank Ladson Jr. | Jacolby George | Michael Redding III
Slot Receiver: Xavier Restrepo | Brashard Smith
Redshirt: Isaiah Horton

As mentioned above, the opportunities are certainly there for pretty much any receiver to emerge. Harley and Rambo contributed the lion’s share of the team’s overall receiving yards (44.5%) and receptions (46.1%).

Between the personnel changes including Gattis and Varner, one of the best returning quarterbacks in the nation, and a diverse array of scheme-proof talent, this group could be fun to watch as they begin to acclimate to a new system starting this week.

Poll

Who will be the Hurricanes most productive Wide Receiver in 2022?

  • 27%
    Xavier Restrepo
    (57 votes)
  • 30%
    Key’Shawn Smith
    (63 votes)
  • 6%
    Brashard Smith
    (14 votes)
  • 20%
    Frank Ladson Jr.
    (42 votes)
  • 4%
    Romello Brinson
    (10 votes)
  • 9%
    Jacolby George
    (19 votes)
  • 0%
    Michael Redding III
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Dazalin Worsham
    (3 votes)
210 votes total Vote Now