Nov 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Stacy Coley (3) runs after a pass reception to score a thirty-four yard touchdown against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Hurricanes Football Preview: Wide Receivers

Throughout the 2013-2014 season, the wide receiver position was arguably the most solid group on the team. Even with very unreliable play at the quarterback spot and an injury to their fastest receiver, Phillip Dorsett, the Canes’ receivers still managed to finish the season with 226 receptions for 3452 yards and 25 touchdowns. The group was solid in just about all facets last year, finishing top 40 in the country in total receiving yards, receiving yards per game, and touchdown receptions.

While the talent and depth at the receiver position was fairly good for the Canes last year, they were still missing that big, tall redzone threat. The largest receiver to catch a pass last year was Allen Hurns, who stands 6’2-188lbs. The Canes addressed the size issue this offseason and have an extremely talented group of receivers returning.

Key Additions

Braxton Berrios

Braxton Berrios is an electrifying slot receiver and return man. Berrios was an Under Armour all American and had a touchdown reception in the game. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for with speed, quickness, and hard work. Braxton is one of those guys that just has a knack for getting open. He will be a big weapon in the slot and the return game for the Hurricanes the next few years. Berrios did tear his ACL in the All American game, but has been recovering well. Braxton could see some early playing time if he has fully recovered. If he is not 100% healthy for the start of the season, he would likely redshirt.

Check out his highlights here.

Tyre Brady

Tyre Brady really shined late in his senior year as he helped lead South Dade to a state championship. Brady is tall with long arms and good speed. He has a good frame and has already started to put on more good weight. Once he polishes up his route running, Brady has the athleticism to be a great threat on the outside.

Check out his highlights here.

David Njoku

Simply put, David Njoku is a freak when it comes to athleticism. At 6’4-215, Njoku became the national champion in the high jump this year and also runs in the 4.4 range.  Njoku is a large target that high points the ball very well and can pick up large chunks of yardage after the catch. At 6’4 with the ability to jump through the roof, Njoku can be the big redzone threat that the Canes lacked last season.

Check out his highlights here.

Darrell Langham

Langham is a tall, lanky receiver with excellent speed. Langham has the size and speed to be a good receiver if he can add some good weight on and work on high pointing the ball. He struggled with drops in his senior year, but can be a dangerous deep ball threat. Langham has been on campus for a few weeks now but is still working through a few clearinghouse issues. The staff fully expects him to be ready to go early in camp. Langham is still very raw and needs to add weight, so he will probably redshirt.

Check out his highlights here.

Trayone Gray

Trayone Gray has created quite the buzz on Social media. Once a longshot to qualify, it now appears that Gray will actually make it in within the next week. While nothing is official yet, Gray was on campus with his family early this week and has been telling people that he will be set for the start of camp on August 5th. Recent reports have been trending upward for Gray and I would be very surprised if he’s not cleared for the start of camp. Gray did not have a huge amount of flashy offers due to concern over his grades, but was one of the most exciting playmakers in the country last year.

At 6’2-210, Gray has incredible speed and agility. If he is able to qualify, Gray will be a huge weapon for the Canes on offense right away. While he will likely be listed at WR, Gray will line up all over the field and will get the ball in his hands in a multitude of ways. When asked how he will be used at Miami, Gray said “Wildcat, WR, KR, PR, and RB”. If Gray manages to be on campus for the start of camp, he will have an immediate impact and will likely have the ball in his hands game 1 against Louisville.

Check out his highlights here.

Key Losses

Allen Hurns

The Canes will be replacing their leading receiver, Allen Hurns, next year. Hurns had a record breaking season and finished with 1162 yards and 6TDs on 62 receptions. There was nothing to flashy about his game, but Hurns was just always there when the offense needed a completion or big play to move the sticks and keep a drive going. The Canes will miss his leadership and consistency but certainly have the talent and experience needed to fill the void.

Back From Injury

Phillip Dorsett – Senior

It is no secret that Dorsett has elite speed and is one of the fastest players in Canes’ history. When Dorsett went down with a partially torn ACL against UNC, the Canes lost their biggest deep ball threat. What many fans fail to realize is that Dorsett does so much more for this offense than just catch the long ball. His speed demands respect from the opposing teams safety and completely takes the top off of the defense which opens up the intermediate passing game. This is why losing Dorsett was a much bigger blow to the Canes’ offense than many people thought.

For example, look at the Georgia Tech game about midway through the season. Dorsett was able to get behind the defense for a 40yd  TD on the first possession of the game. Later in the game, Allen Hurns had a 69yd TD catch that would not have been possible without Dorsett. Dorsett lines up outside of Hurns and runs a post route that completely pulls the top coverage away which confuses the defense and leaves Hurns 1-on-1 on the out route. Once Hurns turns up field, Dorsett also throws a block that allows for the touchdown. Dorsett is back now and better than ever. His average 40 in camp was a 4.21 and there were rumors going around that his lowest time was a 4.16. Having Dorsett back will really help to open up the passing game.

Malcolm Lewis – Redshirt Sophomore

Malcolm Lewis may very well have the best hands on the team. If he can get a finger on it, there is a good chance that he’ll catch it. While Lewis did return last season from that nasty ankle injury suffered 2 years ago, it was evident that he was not his old self. That was confirmed soon after the season when he had another surgery, this time for a groin injury. This spring, it appeared that the Malcolm Lewis that was diving into the endzone for a touchdown in his first career game was back. He showed great explosiveness and regained his quick first step. Malcolm Lewis is the type of slot receiver that QBs dream of. He gets open easily and catches anything near him. Having Lewis back will give the Canes a big boost at the slot position.

Returning Players

Stacy Coley – Sophomore

When you mention returning receivers for the Canes, Stacy Coley has to be the first name that comes to mind. Coley finished his freshman campaign with 33 receptions while racking up 531 receiving yards and 7 TD receptions. Coley is arguably the most explosive and most dynamic playmaker in all of college football. Last season, he was the only player in the country to have a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown, a punt return touchdown, and a kick return touchdown. Look for Coley to evolve into one of the best receivers, not only in the ACC, but in the entire country this year.

Herb Waters – Junior

Waters was a very solid receiver for the Canes last year with 28 receptions for 406 yards and 5 touchdowns. Waters is much faster than a majority of fans realize. This spring, Waters ran a 4.39 forty and a 4.14 in the shuttle. Both of those times were second to only Phillip Dorsett. Waters is a smooth route runner and is poised to have a big junior year.

Rashawn Scott – Senior

Scott seems to be the forgotten man among the WR group and with good reason. After being the teams second leading receiver with 512 yards and 3TDs on 35 catches as a sophomore in 2012, Scott dealt with some nagging injuries and off field issues that held him to only 3 catches for 38 yards in his junior year. Scott missed some games due to an injured shoulder and was also suspended for a “violation of team rules”. This is Scott’s final year as a Cane and if he can straighten things out and return to his sophomore form, he could be another dangerous piece for the Canes’ offense.

Others That Can Contribute

D’Mauri Jones – Redshirt Sophomore

Jones redshirted his first year here in 2012 and saw very limited action last year. While he lacks great speed, Jones is 6’4 and has turned some heads in camp. If he continues to improve, he could see more playing time this year and possibly set himself up for breakout years as a junior and senior.

Garrett Kidd – Redshirt Junior

Kidd has constantly been right on the fringe of getting more snaps at WR. He caught one pass last year for 11 yards. Kidd has played primarily on kick coverage, where he had four tackles and a fumble recovery last year. If needed Kidd has the ability to step in and make some contributions.

Grade

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The WR core for the Canes will likely be one of the teams biggest strengths again this year. Whichever QB ends up winning the job will have a plethora of fast and skilled weapons around him which should make the transition easier. Look for the canes to continue to utilize the WR screen and increase the number of crossing routes and seam routes to fully maximize the potential of the offense this year.

 

 

 

 

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Tags: Miami Hurricanes Phillip Dorsett Stacy Coley

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