Miami Hurricanes need offensive line developing at higher level

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 19:. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - SEPTEMBER 19:. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Miami Hurricanes offensive line needs to develop at a higher level. Miami has received subpar play on the OL the last two seasons and been among the worst nationally allowing sacks and tackles for loss. Head coach Manny Diaz praised the work the OL has put in during the offseason to improve.

After true freshmen Jakai Clark and Zion Nelson often during the 2019 season, the Miami Hurricanes will have an experienced offensive line during the 2021 season. Everyone, including Clark and Nelson, return for the 2021 season. Miami should have one of the most experienced OLs in college football.

Nelson is projected to start at left tackle. Clark could compete to start at guard or he will backup Corey Gaynor at center. Jarrid Williams returns for his second season with Miami and his seventh in college football after redshirting as a freshman at Houston in 2015 and receiving a medical redshirt in 2019 with the Cougars.

Navaughn Donaldson played in only two games last season after suffering a severe knee injury at the end of the 2019 season. D.J. Scaife will likely be the fifth starter on the OL entering his fourth season with Miami. Diaz is pleased with the depth the Miami Hurricanes will have which should create more competition this spring.

"“Zion Nelson continues to shine. It’s been good to have Navaughn Donaldson to be able to go through an entire offseason program. We’ve got so much more depth on the offensive line. Jakai Clark has lost some weight and is moving around really well. You can go on and on with the guys on the offensive line.It’s fun to have this many returning guys and the competition we’re going to have in the spring. That’s going to be a big deal for us this spring is we’re going to, at almost all positions, we’re going to rep all kinds of guys with the 1s.The big question about who is a 1 and who is a 2, it will be as meaningless this spring as it’s ever been because we want to find out who can play.”"

Diaz spoke to the media on Friday as transcribed by Christopher Stock of Inside the U. Miami has veterans on their offensive line, but has not produced the elite players upfront as they did in the past. The Hurricanes have not had an OL selected in the NFL Draft since Danny Isidora was chosen in the fifth round in 2017 by Minnesota.

Behind the five OL mentioned above, Miami has 2020 signees Jalen Rivers and Issiah Walker and potentially 2021 early enrollee Michael McLaughlin could compete for playing time. Redshirt sophomore John Campbell who has started often in the last two seasons will likely be at worse the sixth OL for Miami in 2021.

Campbell is likely to be the swing tackle but also has experience at guard. Rivers also has the potential to move inside to guard. Miami should be eight to nine deep on the OL in 2021. The Miami OL improved significantly and continues to develop, but the Hurricanes need a big leap in 2021 to return to what the OL once was.

Clark seems more likely to challenge Scaife than Donaldson for a starting spot in 2021. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Clark did not allow a sack in 2020, while Scaife allowed three. Rivers was signed by Miami with the projection of playing tackle. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee discussed Rivers’ future.

"(Rivers is) long enough to play tackle, big enough and strong enough to play guard…I don’t know where Jalen will end up.”"

Next. Miami players who have chance with injured players out for spring. dark

The Miami Hurricanes also signed guard Laurence Seymore and center Ryan Rodriguez in the Class of 2021 and they have bright futures ahead of them. The hiring of OL coach Garin Justice during the 2020 offseason should help Miami develop upfront. Justice connects better with the young players than his predecessors did.