Four Miami football players remain from 2017 ACC Championship Game

`CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 02 (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
`CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 02 (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) /

Four active Miami football players remain from the 2017 ACC Championship Game the Hurricanes lost to Clemson.

The Miami football team enters Saturday’s game with Clemson with four players who played in the 2017 ACC Championship Game against the Tigers. Wide receiver Mike Harley, linebackers Zach McCloud and Bradley Jennings Jr. and safety Amari Carter were freshmen when Miami lost 38-3 to Clemson.

Harley has been a starter for most of his Miami football career. Carter has been a part-time starter for the last three seasons and Jennings is in his first year starting as a redshirt junior. McCloud is a four-year starter who redshirted in 2019 when his playing time diminished.

Carter finished with two tackles and one tackle for loss and Jennings had two assisted tackles in the loss to Clemson in 2017. McCloud had four assisted tackles in the 2017 ACC Championship Game. Harley had one reception for 10 yards. Three years later they are in much bigger roles.

Harley leads the Miami wide receivers in 2020 with 12 receptions this year and is second with 110 yards. Carter leads Miami with 19 tackles and has one fumble recovery. Jennings has eight tackles, is second on the Hurricanes with 3.5 tackles for loss and has one sack. Jennings earned the starting MLB job after sitting out 2019.

McCloud is third on Miami with 16 tackles, has two tackles for loss, two sacks, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. McCloud returning as a redshirt senior season was important to a Miami linebacking unit that does not have a lot of experience beyond him.

Jennings suffered an injury during spring practice in 2019 that was career-threatening. The perseverance that Jennings has shown to work his way back and become a starter this year has been impressive. It’s tough to project how much playing against Clemson in 2017 will help the four returnees.

Miami went on to lose 34-24 to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2017 season. The Hurricanes have not played in a game of the magnitude that playing Clemson is since at least losing the Orange Bowl and potentially since they last played Clemson. The four returnees have some sense about playing Clemson.

After being low on the depth chart in the 2017 game against Clemson, the senior trio who played in the ACC Championship game will need to step up for Miami to have a chance to pull the upset. The Hurricanes will be without starting safety Gurvan Hall for the first half against Clemson. Hall received a targeting call against Florida State.

The targeting ejection for Hall came in the second half of the Hurricanes 52-10 victory over the Seminoles. The rule dictates a targeting ejection in the second half means a player must sit out the first half of the next game. Carter and junior Bubba Bolden will have to play almost every snap in the first half.

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Jennings has played 119 defensive snaps this season. Miami has Jennings played 51 snaps on running downs and 68 on passing downs. On all but four defensive snaps, Jennings has lined up in the box. Harley has played 136 snaps this season. Harley’s experience will be important against a top 10 Clemson CB tandem.