75 Days to Miami football: OL Zalon’tae Hillery

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 13: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 13: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Redshirt junior offensive lineman Zalon’tae Hillery enters the 2020 Miami football season at a crossroads. It is time for Hillery to make significant progress or he will be nothing more than depth for Miami on the offensive line.

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2017, redshirt junior Zalon’tae Hillery has played in 20 games in the last two Miami football seasons. Hillery played seven games in 2018 and all 13 games in 2019, but most of those on special teams. Hillery will have competition from transfers and freshmen in 2020.

The addition of Houston graduate transfer Jarrid Williams, freshman transfer Issiah Walker from Florida and freshmen Jalen Rivers and Chris Washington as 2020 signees create more competition on the Miami offensive line in 2020. Williams is almost certainly going to be a starter for Miami in 2020.

Hillery was signed as an offensive tackle, but projects more as a guard on the Miami offensive line in 2020. Hillery has not shown the consistency needed to be a regularly reliable player on the offensive line. The Hurricanes staff also reportedly wants to see progress with his technique. Hillery will have a tough time getting snaps.

When he signed with the Miami football program in 2017, Hillery was the 503rd ranked player, 53rd ranked OT and 50th ranked player in Georgia. Entering the 2020 season there are several returning OL ahead of Hillery on the depth chart. He is going to have to show improvement to be a part of the rotation.

Senior guard Navaughn Donaldson (if healthy), redshirt junior center Corey Gaynor, junior OL Delone Scaife, redshirt junior OT Kai-Leon Herbert redshirt sophomore John Campbell, sophomores Jakai Clark and Zion Nelson and Williams are likely to be the primary OL in the Miami rotation.

Next. 77 Days to Miami football: R-Freshman OL Adam El-Gammal. dark

At 6’6, 298 pounds, Hillery has the ideal size upfront. His length is an attribute that Miami head coach Manny Diaz and his staff looking for throughout the Hurricanes roster. If Hillery develops this season he can be a key contributor upfront for Miami during his final two seasons of eligibility with the Hurricanes.