With the loss of the top two receivers in 2021, the Miami Hurricanes are in desperate need of a wideout stepping up in 2022. As one of the top returning pass-catchers, few are in a better position to do so than Key’Shawn Smith.
As a part of a relatively inexperienced wide receiver room, Smith has some big shoes to fill. With Mike Harley and Charleston Rambo both leaving for the NFL, Tyler Van Dyke and the Hurricanes’ offense lack a player on the outside who has been a serious threat.
In 2021, Van Dyke carved up ACC defenses leading to Harley and Rambo breaking Miami school records. With new coaching across the program, there will still be plenty of targets available to any receiver who can step into a larger role.
After a redshirt season in 2020 where Smith caught two passes for 58 yards, Smith came back and started every game during the 2021 season. He finished the season with 405 yards and three touchdowns on 33 catches.
Smith’s best games came against Pittsburgh, catching three passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, and North Carolina, seven catches for 73 yards. His touchdown against Pitt’ was the go-ahead score in the third quarter that would be the difference in the game.
With the loss of Harley and Rambo, Smith is the returning leader in receptions and receiving yards. He is tied for second in touchdowns behind tight end Will Mallory’s four touchdown catches.
No other player on the roster has shown they can stretch the field as Smith has. And though we don’t know if he can be a true number one, he will at least be a deep threat for Van Dyke.
With a new coaching staff, it is no guarantee that Smith will take over as the number one receiver. And with transfers and younger receivers, there will be a lot of competition. The only receiver spot that seems locked up is Xavier Restrepo in the slot.
But a lot must be said for how far Smith has come since arriving in Miami. Of the seven Hurricane receivers on the roster who were rated by 247 Sports, Smith received the lowest grade as a three-star recruit.
Romello Brinson, Jacolby George, Frank Ladson Jr., Michael Redding III, and Brashard Smith were each four-stars with Restrepo also being a three-star recruit. There is a lot of talent among these players, but it has been Smith who has worked his way into the receiver rotation thus far and should be a top target in Josh Gattis’ offense in 2022.