Miami football draft eligible players returning important for future

Dec 29, 2020; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2020; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

The return of all but four draft-eligible players for the 2021 season is critical for the future of the Miami football program. The NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to all 2020-21 athletes allowed everyone who wanted to return for the 2021-22 school year to be able to do so. Miami lost four players to the 2021 NFL Draft.

Hurricanes star redshirt sophomore defensive end Greg Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season in August. Following the 2020 season, Miami lost DEs Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche, tight end Brevin Jordan and kicker Jose Borregales. All but Borregales and Roche had more than one season of eligibility remaining.

Jordan and Rousseau were both initially Miami signees in the Class of 2018. Phillips transferred to Miami in January 2019 and Borragales and Roche joined the Hurricanes in January 2020. All of the players who chose to enter the NFL Draft had an impact on the Miami football program. Borregales and Phillps were All-Americans.

Several Miami players who were draft-eligible chose to return for the 2021 season. A few are taking advantage of the extra season and will be in at least their fifth season of college football in 2020. Those players could easily have chosen to move on but are returning to Miami.

Quarterback D’Eriq King, wide receiver Mike Harley, offensive tackle Jarrid Williams, defensive tackle Jon Ford, linebacker Zach McCloud and safety Amari Carter were seniors in 2020. Offensive lineman Navaugn Donaldson would have been eligible for a redshirt season after playing only two games as a senior in 2020.

Other notable players that could have left for the NFL Draft after the 2020 season as eligible juniors or redshirt sophomores are safety Bubba Bolden, running back Cam’Ron Harris and DT Nesta Silvera. All three were reportedly considering entering the 2020 NFL Draft. Miami will have an experienced roster in 2021.

Have 19 starters back and a roster of upperclassmen to lead the Miami football team is important for the Hurricanes in 2020. When Manny Diaz was elevated to head coach in December 2018 he spoke about the importance of a lack of upperclassmen leadership on the roster. The transfer portal has helped add experience.

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Miami has added cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, DE DeAndre Johnson and WR Charleston Rambo to their 2021 roster. The addition of Johnson, Rambo and Stevenson is more about adding depth and upgrading the talent at those positions than the importance of leadership with 19 returning starters for the 2021 season.