Miami Hurricanes young WRs challenging for playing time

Oct 11, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Fifth-year senior Mike Harley and Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo have clearly separated themselves as the Miami Hurricanes top two wide receivers after spring practice entering the 2021 season. Juniors Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins are being pushed by freshmen Xavier Restrepo and Keyshawn Smith.

Restrepo and Smith have both been impressive this spring. Restrepo had four receptions for 42 yards and one touchdown and Smith three for 63 and a TD in the Spring Game on Saturday. Pope and Wiggins both struggled with drops throughout the 2020 season and each had one on Saturday.

Pope finished with six receptions for 115 yards. Wiggins did not have a reception until the final play of the game when he caught a 54-yard pass from quarterback Peyton Matocha. The development of Restrepo and Smith is expected to continue into training camp in August as they challenge Pople and Wiggins for snaps.

Smith showed his versatility on the two TD receptions. The first TD catch came when Smith broke loose of his defender and scored. Smith scored his second TD off a perfectly thrown ball on a deep pass from walkon QB Ryan Rizk. Smith showed he is capable of making big plays with two receptions for 58 yards in 2020.

According to Miami Hurricanes radio analyst Don Bailey Jr., Pope has been playing in the slot throughout the spring. Harley was the primary slot WR in 2020 and finished with five receptions for 23 yards and a TD in early action on Saturday. Rambo will start as one WR outside with the other open for competition.

Pope could still regain his position as an outside WR with Smith, Wiggins and potentially someone else challenging for that position in training camp. Pope’s shiftiness and speed would make him a good WR In the slot to get the ball in space and let him work. The same could be said for Restrepo.

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In the second season with Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator, Miami will be deeper and more experienced at WR. The experience of Harley, the addition of Rambo and the development of the young WRs on the roster catching passes from King should result in an upgrade for the passing game.