Miami Hurricanes spring football: Is WR Jeremiah Payton getting left behind?

Apr 20, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Hurricanes need more consistent play from their wide receiver unit in 2021. Mike Harley came on over the second half of last season and Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo is expected to boost the Miami deep passing game. Redshirt freshman Jeremiah Payton has not been mentioned often this spring.

It has often been said throughout the last two seasons that Payton was a dominant force in practice. At 6’1, 195 pounds, Payton provides Miami with good, but not great size at WR. The scouting report on Payton in high school praised his ability to create separation, his skills as a route runner and elusiveness in the open field.

Payton was also praised with strong hands entering college, on his versatility to play in the slot or outside, his elite body control and his willingness to block. Payton was expected to an immediate contributor in the rotation at a Power Five program who would develop into a second-day selection in the NFL Draft.

Entering his third season of college Payton is eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft. Payton has been stuck behind Harley and juniors Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins in the Miami Hurricanes WR rotation. Pope and Wiggins have frequently had problems with drops the last two seasons. If Payton was ready he would play.

"“The entire group has made progress. Mike Harley is still a leader of the group. Rambo has given us a big shot in the arm. Mark Pope, Dee Wiggins continue to improve. (Xavier) Restrepo makes plays every day in practice. [Daz] Worsham has really made strides.Keyshawn Smith, we still think has a bright future and is pressing everyone. I still believe in the wide receiver room we play more than three…I’m hoping we have six to eight who can go in with no noticeable dropoff. That might be ambitious on my part.”"

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, head coach Manny Diaz also mentioned freshman Michael Redding while omitting Payton. The way Payton performed during spring practice and on the scout team during the fall the last two seasons the expectations were that he would be a key part of the Miami rotation at WR.

Miami young WRs impressing during spring practice. dark. Next

In two seasons, Payton has six receptions for 53 yards, one carry for seven and two tackles. The competition for Miami at WR will increase this fall when 2021 four-star signees Romello Brinson, Jacolby George and Breshard Smith join the Hurricanes. Payton needs to step up and realize his potential in 2021.