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Miami Hurricanes : 2020 season positional preview
Miami Hurricanes : 2020 season positional preview
May 22, 2024 11:22 PM

Heading into the Miami Hurricanes 2020 season, the Five Reasons Sports Hurricanes crew put out predictions for each position. In what is sure to be a unique season, the Hurricanes are talented on both sides of the football

Canes fans: it’s officially game day.

Quarterback

By: Jazz Santana

Starter: D’Eriq King

I chose the easy one. There has been absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind, D’Eriq King has been QB1 since the first day he stepped foot in Coral Gables. King, the transfer from the University of Houston has given this football program new life! He has come and been every bit as good as advertised. Not only is D’Eriq King on the Maxwell Trophy, Davey O’Brien and Heisman watch, but most importantly, he is the leader of the Miami Hurricanes football team. The position is deep with veteran guys like N’Kosi Perry, Tate Martell and evening Tyler Van Dyke, but make no mistake, this is King’s team. King can make plays with his arm and his legs, which makes him a legitimate threat every play. For the first time since the days of Ken Dorsey, I can confidently say that the Canes have a quarterback that not only is extremely talented, but does one thing above all – bring hope.

Running Back

By: Jaccare Givens

Starter: Cam Harris

Bound for a breakout: Jaylan Knighton

Looking at the University Of Miami running back position it is by far one the deepest positions on the UM roster, with guys such as Cam Harris, Don Chaney Jr., Jaylan “Rooster” Knighton, and Robert Burns. The top 2 running backs will be Cam Harris and Jaylan Knighton because they’re a good compliment to each other Harris is more of the bruiser back. Knighton is a home run threat every time he touches it because of his blazing speed that has been displayed throughout camp. I also expect Knighton to be a breakout player and contender for freshman-All American, ACC newcomer, and ACC freshman of the year.

Wide Receiver

By: Paul Austria

Starters: Mark Pope, Dee Wiggins, Mike Harley

Bound for a breakout: Jeremiah Payton

Miami’s wide receiver unit in 2020 is poised to be a problem for opposing defenses, considering the speed and athleticism of this unit as well as the integration of OC Rhett Lashlee’s offense. Wiggins has been a steady contributor for the Canes in his first two seasons, making a total of 27 catches and Pope could be in line for a big season as his natural speed and talent are major reasons why he was considered a top recruit in 2018. The senior Harley is also in a great position to show off his speed this season.

While the upperclassmen wideouts get most of the spotlight here, don’t be surprised if you see redshirt freshman Jeremiah Payton making some plays this season. Players and scouts raved about Payton while he was a member of the scout team last season and is very quick and strong route runner who has all the tools to become a regular starter by next season.

Tight End

By: Paul Austria

Starters: Brevin Jordan, Will Mallory

Bound for a breakout: Will Mallory

Historically speaking, Miami’s had a great legacy of tight ends and you’d be crazy not to include them in any Tight End U conversation. The group Miami will carry in 2020 is in a great position to carry on that tradition, led by first-team All-ACC selection and John Mackey Award finalist Brevin Jordan. The junior is returning for what may be his last season with the Canes as he is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Throw in fellow junior Will Mallory, who has shown glimpses of his talent. He caught 16 passes for 293 yards in 2019 but did struggle with dropped passes at times. With opposing defenses placing a bigger focus on Jordan and the implementation of OC Rhett Lashelee’s Air Raid offense, Mallory should see more balls thrown his way in 2020.

Miami did get thinner at the position as Michael Irvin II decided to grad transfer to FAU but they do have two freshmen sitting in the wings. Coach Diaz was able to preserve the redshirt status of Larry Hodges last season, who saw action in four games and caught a couple of TD passes against Bethune Cookman.

Offensive Line

By Paul Austria

Starters: LT John Campbell, LG Ousmane Traore, C Corey Gaynor, RG DJ Scaife, RT Jarrid Williams

Bound for a breakout: LG Ousman Traore

In 2019, the offensive line was one of the most criticized units of the Canes and a lot of factors were to blame but with a new coach in Garin Justice leading the way, things are looking up. Because of limited depth, Miami started a true freshman in LT Zion Nelson against Florida’s nasty pass rush and it did not go that well. Nelson has since added 60 pounds to his frame and is now playing behind John Campbell, but do not be surprised if he steps in if the latter struggles. Miami also added some stability at right tackle with the addition of Jarrid Williams, who transferred from Houston and actually played with D’Eriq King during King’s incredible 2018 season.

This could be a coming out party of sorts for Ousman Traore. Miami’s new starting left guard is only a sophomore but the talent is absolutely there as he did sit on an offer from LSU before choosing the Hurricanes in 2019.

Defensive End

By: Paul Austria

Starters: Jaelan Phillips, Quincy Roche

Bound for a breakout: Jahfari Harvey

Greg Rousseau’s departure brought initial worry when you think about the Canes losing a potential top-10 first round pick for this season. But all those worries were quickly followed by reassurance when you consider who’s the next man up. Rousseau was expected to form a very disruptive duo with Temple grad transfer Quincy Roche, who won the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year award with 15 sacks in 2019. This is also the year in which another transfer gets his shot in former UCLA transfer JAelan Phillips. Phillips was hampered with injuries during his tenure with the Bruins but reports out of camp state that he is showing glimpses of why he was considered the top recruit in the nation out of high school in 2017.

My breakout player at defensive end is definitely Jahfari Harvey. Harvey impressed as a member of the scout team in 2019, where he redshirted. But he seems very poised as he will probably be the first guy off the bench once Phillips and Roche have left their impact on opposing offensive lines.

Defensive Tackle

By: Paul Austria

Starters: Jon Ford, Nesta Silvera

Breakout: Nesta Silvera

Miami’s depth at the defensive tackle position is probably amongst the best on its roster, although it is on the younger side. Jon Ford is entering his senior season with the Canes and should he stay healthy, he will be a mainstay on Miami’s defensive line. He is a very in-your-face, physical inside lineman who has great size to plug up running lanes. Nesta Silvera will hold down the other defensive tackle spot and is the perfect complement to Ford as he is more of a speedy, finesse runner.

The level of urgency for Silvera to take the next step is at an all-time high this season, especially with the limited amount of experience behind him. Silvera will get his opportunities to make plays when opposing offenses zero in on defensive ends Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips

Linebacker

By: Danny Jaillet

Starters: Inside: Bradley Jennings, Weak-side Zach McCloud

Breakout: Nesta Silvera

The Miami Hurricanes have a bunch of options to play with at linebacker. Although some of the names may be unproven talent, there is no doubt that the talent is there. It is just about execution and building off of what they learned last year.

Zach McCloud is the team’s starting week-side linebacker. Waynmon Steen, Avery Huff, and Tirek Austin-Cave fill out the weak side

As a freshman in 2018, Steen recorded two tackles. He missed all of 2019 due to knee surgery. A redshirt freshman, Huff figures to be in the mix as well.

At middle linebacker, you have a bunch of players ready to break out. Bradley Jennings and Sam Brooks would certainly fit that description.

For his part, Jennings recorded eight tackles last year, and now looks to man the middle linebacker position with Brooks. Brooks certainly made an impact in his only start against Louisiana Tech last December. He recorded 12 tackles, and gave Miami Hurricanes fans a preview of potential future play. in total, he recorded 18 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss. now, it’s time to see if he can put it all together.

The linebacker unit has a lot of raw talent, and it will be fascinating to watch them develop over the course of the season.

Defensive Back/Striker

By: Jaccare Givens

Starters: CB DJ Ivey, CB Al Blades Jr., S Bubba Bolden, S Amari Carter, Striker Gilbert Frierson

Bound for a breakout: Te’Cory Couch, Gilbert Frierson

I am going out on a limb and saying that Carter and Frierson will be with the 1st unit Thursday night. But you will also see Gurvan Hall, Te’Cory Couch, and Keontra Smith getting in the rotation this season. Couch has been very impressive throughout camp and to me he will be season end be the corner opposite of Al Blades. Couch and Frierson are my breakout players to have great seasons and make all ACC teams. Frierson because he had bright spots last year and with this being his 2nd year in the system I expect he will continue to improve and he’s at the right position to maximize his talent. Blades is the best player in this group by far but I do see Couch also building off a strong camp and being UM leader in INTs this year because he has a great nose for the ball.

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