Miami Hurricanes Spring Football: Position Battles

Miami Hurricanes Spring Football: Position Battles
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Miami spring football will kick off on March 13th with the Hurricanes looking to build off of their 8-3 record last season. Manny Diaz has the luxury of returning 19 starters from last year’s team, including ten on offense. Although the Hurricanes return a good amount of production, Diaz plans to allow competition at all positions. One of the main battles this spring will be the backup quarterback as D’Eriq King recovers from knee surgery.

Defensively, Miami returns nine starters but more importantly, he has almost an entirely new defensive staff. The position battle at linebacker and in the secondary will be highly competitive as everyone from both groups returns from last season.

Future QB1 Battle

There is no question that King will be the starter next season after accounting for over 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. Miami could very well be looking at their future at quarterback this spring in the battle for the backup position. With veteran, N’Kosi Perry set to graduate and transfer out Miami is left with a ton of inexperience at the number two slot. Tyler Van Dyke redshirted last season but stood out enough as a scout team member. Another player that will be in the running is highly touted recruit Jake Garcia, who is an early enrollee. Garcia finished as the fifth rated pro-style quarterback in the class of 2021 according to 247 Sports. Redshirt sophomore Peyton Matocha is also in the running and is another intriguing young quarterback on the Hurricanes roster.

Old or Young?

The wide receiver room at Miami is a mixed bag in terms of class. The Hurricanes will open spring with a number of veteran returners at the position. However, seniority will not be the deciding factor as to who is first on the field against Alabama in the season opener. Last season senior Mike Harley had a productive season, finishing with the most yard since Ahmon Richards in 2016. Outside of Harley, Miami is looking for more production out of Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins who are entering their fourth season at Miami. The message couldn’t be any more clear after Miami landed Oklahoma transfer, Charleston Rambo. As a sophomore, Rambo caught 43 passes for 743 yards and five touchdowns. Miami is hoping to add that level of production to boost its receiving corps.

Things could get interesting as Miami’s group of freshman receivers will finally get a full spring period.  Wide receivers coach Rob Likens admitted to not feeling comfortable playing more younger players last season. This is understandable as covid-19 hampered the time to develop the freshman receivers but now they will all be expected to compete. Michael Redding III, Keyshawn Smith, and Jeremiah Payton were the three freshmen that played the bulk of last season. Meanwhile, Xavier Restrepo and Dazalin Worsham will also look to carve out a role this spring.

Open Opportunity

On the defensive side of the ball, Miami is set to return all but two starters from last season. At the same time, the bigger transition will be the influx of new defensive coaches. The only returning coach is Jonathan Patke.  This season he will be transitioning to coaching inside linebackers as Ishamel Aristide takes over the strikers. Last season marked the first time that Miami’s defense finished outside of the top 25 in total defense since the arrival of Coach Diaz in 2016. To fix the defensive issues, Diaz announced that he will return as the play-caller defensively next season.

The secondary adds a Georgia transfer Tyrique Stevenson to the cornerback room. This is significant as Miami awaits news on junior cornerback Al Blades, who was diagnosed with Myocarditis last season. The Hurricanes also added graduate transfer Deandre Johnson, the senior defensive end will be looking to replace the void from losing two top defensive ends last season. In addition to the transfers, look for younger players at linebacker to get a shot at starting next season.