Miami football only missing Al Blades to COVID, Harrison-Hunte, Knighton injured

University of Miami's Al Blades Jr. (7) makes the tackle on Louisiana Tech's Justin Henderson (33) during the Walk-On's Independence Bowl game against University of Miami in Shreveport, La. on Dec. 26.
University of Miami's Al Blades Jr. (7) makes the tackle on Louisiana Tech's Justin Henderson (33) during the Walk-On's Independence Bowl game against University of Miami in Shreveport, La. on Dec. 26. /
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Junior cornerback Al Blades is the only player out due to COVID-related illness and defensive tackle Jared Harrison-Hunte and running back Jaylan Knight are the only players out due to injury for the Miami football team.

The Miami football team is nearly back to full strength as junior cornerback Al Blades Jr. is the only Hurricanes player out with a COVID related illness as he contacted Myocarditis due to side effects. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jared Harrison-Hunte has an elbow injury and running back Jaylan Knighton has a shoulder injury.

Knighton and Blades are out for the season. There was no report if Harrison-Hunte will return for the Bowl game. Blades and Harrison-Hunte are out for the second straight game. Knighton injured his shoulder last week in the victory over Duke. This is the healthiest Miami has been in two months.

The Hurricanes had 15 players out due to COVID last week against Duke, 13 out against Virginia Tech four weeks ago, 11 three games against ago North Carolina State and six against Virginia in October. Being close to full health against North Carolina on Saturday is critical in the biggest game of the season for Miami.

The Hurricanes game against Clemson had national importance but Saturday has more on the line. Miami is ranked 10th in the College Football Playoff rankings, North Carolina is 17th. The winner will likely be the third highest-ranked team in the ACC and receive a berth in a New Years Six Bowl Game.

If Clemson defeats Notre Dame in the ACC Championship game next week the Miami North Carolina winner will likely play in the Orange Bowl. if Notre Dame wins, Clemson will likely play in the Orange Bowl with the Miami North Carolina winner headed to the Cotton, Fiesta, or Peach Bowl.

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Miami will replace Blades with freshmen Marcus Clarke and Isaiah Dunson receiving snaps behind junior. D.J. Ivey and sophomore Te’Cory Couch. Harrison-Hunte will be replaced on the first team Miami defense by senior Jon Ford who will return after missing the Duke Game. Cam Harris and Don Chaney Jr will split Knighton’s carries.