64 days to Miami football: Jalen Rivers is future for Canes OL

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 30: (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 30: (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

Four-star offensive tackle Jalen Rivers is the highest-rated offensive lineman the Miami football program has signed since senior guard Navaughn Donaldson in 2017.

Jalen Rivers is the fourth highest-ranked signee in the 2021 Class for the Miami football program and highest-ranked offensive lineman the Hurricanes have signed since Nauvaughn Donaldson in 2017. Rivers will compete to be part of the rotation on the offensive line in 2020. Signed as a tackle he will potentially begin as a guard.

Rivers was the 127th ranked player, 12th ranked offensive lineman and 20th ranked player in Florida in 2021. The struggles of the Miami offensive line in 2019 and hiring of new offensive line coach Garin Justice during the offseason has created a clean slate for everyone. Rivers could have a chance to contribute as a freshman.

Rivers is one of the most touted offensive linemen signed by the Miami football program in recent memory. Before the Hurricanes signed Houston graduate transfer offensive tackle Jarrid Williams during the offseason, there was speculation that Rivers would compete to start at tackle.

That is not likely now as the second tackle spot will probably be between junior D.J. Scaife or redshirt sophomore John Campbell with the other one starting at one guard. With Donaldson recently announcing he is going to redshirt in 2020 to rehabilitate a knee injury the other guard position is open.

Rivers could move inside early in his collegiate career. That would give Rivers the chance to compete to be a starter in 2020. Rivers’ length and size at 6’5 329 pounds grabbed the attention of recruiters. Justice spoke about what makes Rivers a player with a ton of potential during an April conference call with beat reporters.

Jalen Rivers senior highlights

"“People look at the fact that he’s 6-5, big, physical, and all of those things and those are great qualities you look for in a lineman, but I think the thing that makes Jalen a really good player or is going to make him a really good player is the fact that he is such a perfectionist…It bothers him when he doesn’t have success.It bothers him if it’s not 100 percent right. He’s a very conscientious kid, a kid that’s going to be a really, really good player because he has a drive to be good…Athletically and physically he’s all of those things and that’s why he was a highly-recruited kid out of high school."

The athleticism and maturity that Rivers brings to the Miami football team will provide him with a chance to become the fifth Miami true freshman to start on the offensive line in the last four seasons. Donaldson in 2017, Scaife in 2018 and Jakai Clark and Zion Nelson were primary starters on the offensive line in 2019.

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Miami is bringing in talent ready to contribute. Developing talent and experience on the offensive line is critical. Most offensive linemen need the time to develop their strength, conditioning and technique for the offensive line to become a cohesive unit. It’s tough to continue to rely on true freshmen offensive linemen.