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Miami Hurricanes 2023 Position Preview: Wide Receivers

After a Lackluster 2022 campaign, Xavier Restrepo looks to lead a promising and young group along with new Offensive Coordinator, Shannon Dawson, who will implement an Air Raid Scheme

Bethune-Cookman v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Miami’s wide receiving corps has had its ups and downs over the past few seasons, which has included bringing on loaded talent and breaking some records, but the drawbacks have been more than apparent as evidenced by lack of rhythm and many dropped passes. Last year was a hot mess from start-to-finish as no receiver compiled more than 33 receptions and 367 receiving yards just one year removed from a season where Charleston Rambo strung together a single season record 1172 yards, had 79 receptions, and teammate Mike Harley set the career receptions record at the U with 182 receptions.

Part of Miami’s 2022 woes originated from the Canes’ one-and-done offensive coordinator/wide receiver coach, Josh Gattis, who could not bring the same prolific offense to Miami that he implemented in Ann Arbor with the Michigan Wolverines. Another important factor was the lack of consistency at the quarterback position as Tyler Van Dyke battled injuries throughout the season.

At this point, the Canes WRs are ready for a fresh start with a new wide receiving coach/offensive line, an improved offensive line, and a full offseason of workouts to allow for more consistency and rapport between Van Dyke and his arsenal of pass catchers.

Former Houston coach, Shannon Dawson, brings a much needed change to Miami’s offensive blueprint as an Air Rad coordinator who also blends principles of pounding the ball to open up the long ball. The explosive and physical offensive could thrive for the Canes, especially with the deep group discussed below where Miami features big targets and route running options that will open up the vertical threats with downfield passing ready to compete at a higher level.

In 2022, Dawson maximized QB Clayton Tune’s potential, who amassed 4,074 passing yards on 334 completions. Gadgety wide receiver, Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, had one of the most productive season in college football as he tallied 109 receptions for 1,398 yards, while three other Cougar targets had over 470 receiving yards.

Miami’s offense has an opportunity to be the most improved group for the Canes under Dawson’s tutelage, as he looks to spread the ball across the formation and then take over games with their speed. The scheme will make it much easier compared to 2022 as they will have better chances to make plays, get separation, and create better throwing windows for Van Dyke.

Not only does Miami welcome Dawson, but they also bring in former Toledo wide receivers coach, Kevin Beard, who has Miami ties from the 1999-2003 roster and as an assistant coach in 2014-15. Beard has been successful at maximizing talent, including with current Steelers’ WR Diontae Johnson who holds the record for receiving touchdowns against the Miami Hurricanes since 2000 (4 TDs), and also had 4 receptions for 185 yards against the Canes in two games.

Meet the 2023 Wide Receiver Class:

Xavier Restrepo (#7): 5’10”, 198 (2022 Stats - 7 Games Played, 21 Receptions, 240 Yards, 2 TDs) Restrepo was plagued by a foot injury throughout the 2022 season which inhibited the production of the Canes’ offense. X was the most productive returning wide receiver and also has significant rapport with Van Dyke as his roommate. He will be relied on as the safety blanket for Van Dyke as he 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 Dawson in a variety of across-the-middle or sweeps plays. He is listed on the Reese’s Senior Bowl watchlist so there are some high expectations as he looks to be a slot reception animal like his Cane predecessors Mike Harley, KJ Osborn, and Braxton Berrios. Expect him to be a reliable in the Canes’ offense as an on-and-off-the-field leader.

Projected Stats: 65 receptions, 500 yards, 6 TDs

Colbie Young (#4): 6’5”, 215 (2022 Stats - 10 Games Played, 32 Receptions, 367 Receptions, 5 TDs) Complementing Restrepo’s short space speed, Young will be an outside big-bodied target. There are high expectations for the former JUCO star (Lackawanna College) who needs to be the alpha in the Canes’ offense. In spite of amassing less than 400 yards, he is Miami’s most productive returning receiver. His size, traits, and experience put him in the starting spot where he could thrive against smaller DBs.

Projected Stats: 40 receptions, 550 yards, 8 TDs

Brashard Smith (#0): 5’10”, 196 (2022 Stats - 11 Games Played, 33 Receptions, 308 Yards, 0 TDs) Brashard is currently slated to get the starting nod after he led the receiving corps in receptions in 2022. Smith complements the group nicely with immense speed and has shown on a few occasions that he can easily break open the offense. Smith should provide TVD with ample opportunity to air it out.

Projected Stats: 35 receptions, 400 yards, 4 TDs

Jacolby George (#3): 6’0”, 176 (2022 Stats - 7 Games Played, 13 Receptions, 130 Yards, 0 TDs) Similar to Brashard, George can also break a game open and can provide an explosive element to the Canes’ offense with some good change-of-direction prowess. During media availability George noted that players are getting open deep and he will be another vertical option in Dawson’s Air Raid scheme.

Projected Stats: 35 receptions, 500 yards, 4 TDs

Frank Ladson Jr. (#8): 6’3”, 205 (2022 Stats - 12 Games Played, 27 Receptions, 298 Yards, 1 TD) 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 breakout season. To that end, Ladson is arguably the most naturally gifted player on the depth chart. However, he has been bothered by injuries throughout his career at Clemson. Ladson is another big receiver for the group and also will most likely be used to stretch the field as a vertical threat.

Projected Stats: 25 receptions, 250 yards, 5 TDs

Michael Redding III (#13): 6’2”, 196 (2022 Stats - 8 Games Played, 15 Receptions, 217 Yards, 1 TD) Redding III has also had a hard time with injuries early in his career. However, during the offseason he has been engaged and looks sharp. Redding III 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 is on short jump balls and an offensive bruiser that can play punisher on undersized CBs.

Projected Stats: 20 receptions, 250 yards, 4 TDs

Tyler Harrell (#15): 6’0”, 200 (2022 Stats, Alabama - 6 Games Played, 2 Receptions, 18 Yards) Harrell could be an x-factor in this offense but he needs to stay healthy. To that end, the Miami native (Columbus) could be a mainstay starter with his burner speed. The Bama transfer is alluring as he also listed on the Reese’s Bowl Senior Watchlist.

Projected Stats: 35 receptions, 650 yards, 6 TDs

Shemar Kirk (#15): 6’0”, 200 (2022 Stats, Reedley - 8 Games Played, 45 Receptions, 782 Yards, 8 TDs) Kirk has been working with the second team but is technically the most productive 2022 receiver. Kirk has a lot of “Shimmy” to his step, which leads to his nickname due to his YAC-ability and elusiveness from tacklers. Miami hopes he can be another JUCO breakout like Young.

Projected Stats: 15 receptions, 150 yards, 1 TD

Isaiah Horton: 6’4”, 205 (2022 Stats - 4 Games Played, 1 Reception, 6 Yards) Horton is another big receiver, which helps give this group plenty of versatility. The second year player was easy into his role as a true freshman as he only recorded one reception but the four-star has promise to contribute as he has taken a step forward

Projected Stats: 20 receptions, 150 yards, 2 TDs

Nathaniel Ray Ray Joseph (#5): 5’10”, 175 (1st Year) The true freshman has some breakaway wheels and could be looked at to help the Canes’ offense right away. When he gets open in space, he’ll be dangerous and Dawson may not afraid to use the highly touted four-star often and in variety of ways.

Projected Stats: 15 receptions, 140 yards, 3 TDs

Robby Washington (#12): 5’11, 180 (1st Year) Robby Washington is another first year four star with elite speed. Look for Washington to get some reps in the return game but also as

Projected Stats: 12 receptions, 100 yards

Departures: Key’Shawn Smith, Romello Brinson, Dazalin Worsham

Projected Depth Chart:

Wide Receiver 1: Colbie Young | Frank Ladson Jr. | Michael Redding III
Wide Receiver 2: Jacolby George | Tyler Harrell | Shemar Kirk | Robby Washington
Slot Receiver: Xavier Restrepo | Brashard Smith | Nathaniel Ray Ray Joseph | Isaiah Horton

As mentioned above, the opportunities are certainly there for pretty much any receiver to emerge and many different types of receivers (slot options, speed, and possession receivers.

Between the personnel changes including Dawson and Beard, a more stable offensive line and quarterback situation, 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.


Who Will be the Hurricanes most productive Wide Receiver in 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Xavier Restrepo
    (19 votes)
  • 37%
    Colbie Young
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    Brashard Smith
    (1 vote)
  • 9%
    Jacolby George
    (6 votes)
  • 6%
    Frank Ladson Jr.
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Michael Redding III
    (1 vote)
  • 6%
    Tyler Harrell
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Shemar Kirk
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Isaiah Horton
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Nathaniel Ray Ray Joseph
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Robby Washington
    (0 votes)
61 votes total Vote Now