Miami football RB Jaylan Knighton will have biggest freshmen impact

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 11: Miami Hurricanes in action against the Virginia Cavaliers in the half at Hard Rock Stadium on October 11, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 11: Miami Hurricanes in action against the Virginia Cavaliers in the half at Hard Rock Stadium on October 11, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Miami football running back Jaylan Knighton exploded for 126 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries in Miami’s opening fall scrimmage Sunday. He could be the best Hurricanes freshman in 2020.

The Miami football team lost the backbone of its 2019 offense this past offseason when running back Deejay Dallas turned pro and was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. Although replacing Dallas is no easy task, the Hurricanes have numerous reinforcements at running back.

Cam’ron Harris is expected to take on the biggest load of any running back on the Miami football roster in 2020. Rightfully so, as the junior wasn’t too far behind Dallas in rushing yards in 2019. Robert Burns is the lone other veteran back for the Hurricanes.

The most exciting and potentially the best long-term answer in the backfield may well be incoming freshman Jaylan Knighton. Knighton was the star of Miami’s first 2020 fall scrimmage, running for 126 yards and a score on just 10 carries.

The Deerfield Beach product has the perfect combination of speed and explosiveness that the Hurricanes need. Knighton was quoted with his outlook for the 2020 season by Christy Chirinos Cabrera of MiamiHurricanes.Com.

"“I’m trying to make a statement for myself, showing everybody my ability, showing the coaches what I can do, showing my team what I bring to the table,” Knighton said after the scrimmage."

Miami is also bringing in another freshman back in Miami Belen Jesuit’s Don Chaney Jr. Chaney and Knighton have similar grades according to 247 sports, both as four stars signees. As one may expect, Chaney and Knighton received a similar amount of reps Sunday night.

Despite that, Knighton more than doubled Chaney’s rushing yards. Knighton checks in as Miami’s third highest-ranked player in its 2020 class according to 247 Sports. The only players with a better grade than the running back are safety Avantae Williams and defensive end Chantz Williams.

It was announced last week that Avantae Williams will miss the 2020 season due to chronic medical issues. With everything we’ve seen and know from the 2020 class thus far, Knighton will likely have the biggest impact from this class, at least for the upcoming season.

What’s even more impressive, is that Williams began raising eyebrows in Coral Gables long before his breakout performance during the first scrimmage of training camp according to head coach Manny Diaz through Miami Hurricanes.Com.

"“What’s impressive about Jaylan is we knew about his speed and his home run hitting ability… Sometimes with younger guys, just seeing the cuts might take a while and early on, seeing the way he has a feel for it, how he puts his foot in the ground and get through that hole, I think that’s been very impressive.”"

To see Knighton break out right away in Miami’s first scrimmage is such an encouraging sign of what’s to come. Harris might get the top spot on the depth chart at the running back position, but if Knighton continues to impress Diaz and his staff, they’ll have no choice but to give number four more playing time.

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With Miami’s running back situation experiencing a makeover this summer, Knighton could be the perfect addition to an offense that was extremely challenged down the stretch in 2019.