Mike Harley can set Miami Hurricanes receiving records with announced return

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 11: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 11: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Mike Harley will have a chance to set the Miami Hurricanes career receiving record after the senior announced he will return for a fifth season in 2021.

The return of Miami Hurricanes senior wide receiver Mike Harley for the 2021 season will solidify what was otherwise an inconsistent corps in 2020. Harley announced via Twitter on Sunday that he is taking advantage of the NCAA granting 2020 fall sports athletes an extra year by returning next season.

Harley has a realistic chance at setting the all-time Miami records for receptions and receiving yards. Harley is currently eighth in Miami history with 125 receptions and 17th with 1,615 receiving yards. Reggie Wayne holds the Miami record with 173 receptions from 1997-2000.

Wayne’s classmate at Miami, Santana Moss holds the Hurricanes career receiving yardage record with 2,547, just 37 ahead of Wayne. Moss passed Wayne for the all-time record in their final game in the 2001 Sugar Bowl win over Florida. Harley had by far his best season in 2020 with 57 receptions for 799 yards and seven touchdowns.

If Harley can duplicate those numbers he would fall 133 yards shy of Moss and finish fourth in Miami Hurricanes history in receiving yards behind Moss, Wayne and the playmaker Michael Irvin. With 57 more receptions, Harley would pass Wayne with 182 receptions. Harley returning is critical for the Miami receiving corps.

Juniors Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins were inconsistent as starters and the WRs behind them never pushed them enough for more playing time. Nearly half a dozen drops by the Miami receivers were a huge contributing factor in the 37-34 Hurricanes loss to Oklahoma State in the Cheez-it Bowl.

Many of those drops were by Pope and Wiggins. The decision by Harley to return for the 2021 season can likely be attributed to quarterback D’Eriq King doing the same. King will be in his sixth season of college football and also took advantage of the extra year of eligibility afforded to all fall sports athletes in 2020.

Harley started slowly in 2020 but was an elite receiver over the last six games to be named All-ACC. Harley had 17 receptions for 174 yards and one TD through the first five games of 2020. Against Virginia in the sixth game of the 2020 season, Harley had career highs with 10 receptions for 170 yards and added a TD reception.

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Over the final six games of 2020, Harley had 40 receptions for 625 yards and six of his seven TD receptions. If Harley can continue to play as he did over the last half dozen games of 2020, he will shatter the career receiving records set by Moss and Wayne. Harley should push for All-ACC and potentially to be an All-American.