Despite Miami’s nearly two-decade dry spell, one of the bright spots has been the level of backfield talent the Canes have featured. Home run hitters, bruisers, and everything in between have come through Coral Gables and excelled before moving on to an NFL career.
On January 16, Miami might have added another one.
Henry Parrish, Jr. announced his intention that day to transfer to Miami after spending two seasons at Ole Miss. The 5’9” 170-pound back chose Ole Miss after a standout career at Columbus High School in Miami where he rushed for 2,319 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior. His opportunities in Oxford were somewhat limited, but he still managed a 5.3 ypc mark on 105 carries in 2021 while adding 173 yards receiving on 21 catches.
He enters Miami in a terrific situation. First, he reunites with his Ole Miss positional coach Kevin Smith, who joined the staff shortly before Parrish made the move. There’s something to be said for continuity and familiarity, and he clearly has a lot of respect for his positional coach. As far as his fit, Parrish’s skillset isn’t going to be one of a bruiser given his physique, but no one is asking him to be. Between Don Chaney, Jr. and Thad Franklin, Miami has a couple of bruising early down backs. That’s not to say he can’t pound the rock between the tackles; he can, and has proven to be an effective carrier.
Why I think he’s going to play an important role this season is because he fits the mantra his new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis put in place when he took over in the same role at Michigan:
“Speed in space.”
That phrase was chided by some, as Michigan’s offense failed to quickly materialize into a speed-based attack rather than the ground-and-pound style fans were accustomed to seeing over the years. But things changed in 2021, as there were signs of that mantra in a suddenly-explosive Wolverine offense. In 2020, Michigan running backs garnered a grand total of 20 combined receptions among the group. In 2021, the number soared to 62. The personnel wasn’t massively different, but the philosophy and play calling apparently was.
Gattis should be thrilled with the group he’s inheriting in Coral Gables. I think we’re going to a significant number of plays drawn up for Parrish and Jaylan Knighton on the field this fall. We know what Knighton can do catching passes out of the backfield; hi home runs against Louisville and UNC the past couple of years are Exhibit A of a player who just needs the ball in his hands and can make a huge play. I think Parrish also fits that mold and will potentially be significantly involved in the short passing game as a third down back and rotational early down player, at minimum.
As such, based on skill set and philosophy, I think Parrish will see a significant role this fall in Gattis’ new offense.