The Miami Hurricanes wide receiver room is coached by offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. Gattis comes to the new Miami staff (not to be mistaken for The New Miami) from the College Football Playoff’s Michigan Wolverines. Gattis, a former Wake Forest Demon Deacon, has now worked for Nick Saban, Jim Harbaugh, Mario Cristobal, and James Franklin in his fast-rising coaching career.
The WR room was clearly the worst offensive group in the ‘Canes 2022 spring game. Xavier Restrepo looked good, everyone else failed to stand out. Miami will sorely miss Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley in ‘22. That combo, now both in the NFL, combined to haul in over 1,600 receiving yards and 12 TD’s last season.
In ‘21, Restrepo caught 24 balls for 373 yards and two scores. The only returning wide receiver to catch more balls than Restrepo is Key’Shawn Smith. Smith is a six-foot-one, 182 pounder out of California. In ‘21, Smith caught 26 balls with three going for TD’s.
Sophomore Breshard Smith, out of Miami Palmetto, averaged 14.2 yards per catch with two TD’s of his own. The speedy Jacolby George averaged 26.1 yards per catch with a score on only seven catches last season. Romello Brinson, a sophomore out of Miami Northwestern, caught a touchdown in ‘21 as well.
The WR room has a ton of potential with Michael Redding III, and Clemson transfer Frank Ladson, Jr. also in the mix. Ladson Jr. and Redding add size to the ‘Canes receivers at six-foot-three and six-foot-two, respectively. Ladson Jr. has six career touchdowns from his time as a Clemson Tiger.
Outside WR: F. Ladson, R. Brinson or M. Redding
Outside WR: K. Smith, B. Smith or M. Redding
Inside WR: X. Restrepo, J. George
At only five-foot-ten and under 200 pounds, Restrepo is best served at inside receiver. The jam techniques being used at the college level have improved immensely in recent years and getting him off the line can help with separation. Use mini motion to keep the cornerback and nickel guessing on the route, and which WR is going in and which is going out.
Ladson (A tape of almost 8 minutes of Ladson vs. UGA in ‘21) gets the nod at one OR position because he’s been coached up by a high level staff at Clemson and has the size the WR room needs. Key’Shawn Smith has playmaking ability and some size, too. He catches the ball in his hands, not up against his body, which is a nice plus as well.
George will get rub doing certain things like running fades, screens, and jet sweeps. It’s hard to keep a guy with that much speed off the field, even if it hasn’t turned into constant production just yet.
X. Restrepo: 800 yards, six TD’s
K. Smith: 700 yards, five TD’s
F. Ladson: 500 yards, five TD’s
J. George: 400 yards, four TD’s (one rushing)
B. Smith: 350 yards, two TD’s
R. Brinson: 200 yards, one TD
The biggest benefit to the WR room is having a clear number one starter in Tyler Van Dyke at quarterback. This allows for a comfort zone in timing, spin, and ball placement. Van Dyke drops corner routes in like no one else and that ball placement is important for receivers. The timing and rhythm with a QB matters, too.
Last season, Van Dyke was bailed out a few time on risky throws by Key Smith against Pitt, and at times by Restrepo (including one in the spring game) and without a doubt Rambo who showed great in-game vertical ability on high balls.
With the offense having three solid pass catching tight ends, and a couple of backs who can catch as well, the WR’s may not have to be as vital as in ‘21. Restrepo is bound to have a big season, and I think Van Dyke will spread the ball around to Ladson, Key Smith, and George.
This group could’ve used a transfer to spark competition but it wasn’t meant to be. Now Coach Gattis will have to coach the group up in order for Miami to play for the ACC Championship in Charlotte in December.