One of the biggest questions facing the Miami Hurricanes football program during the 2021 offseason is who will be in the words of offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee the bell cow running back. Cam’Ron Harris who is entering his fourth season with Miami has proven the ability to perform with a heavy workload.
Harris led Miami Hurricanes RBs in 2020 with 126 carries for 643 rushing yards, a 5.1 yards per carry average, 10 rushing touchdowns and 18 receptions. Harris had 131 receiving yards and one TDs. Don Chaney Jr. who appears to be the most versatile RB on the Miami roster is coming off of offseason shoulder surgery.
Chaney is expected to be ready for the season opener against Alabama on September 4, but might not be ready for training camp. Chaney showed power and speed as a freshman in 2020. Playing in all 11 games in 2020, Chaney had 68 carries for 322 yards a 4.7 YPC average, three TDs and 11 receptions for 143 yards.
Jaylan Knighton was the most explosive RB for Miami in 2020 as a freshman. Knighton had 52 carries for 209 yards, averaged 4.0 YPC with one TDs and added 11 receptions for 135 yards and an exhilarating 75-yard TD reception against Louisville. The Knighton TD against the Cardinals was preceded by a Knighton 75-yard TD run.
Harris is clearly the tough runner Miami needs with Chaney being the best outside the tackles. Knight is the most explosive threat to create the biggest plays for Miami. Quarterback D’Eriq King led the Miami Hurricanes and was 21st nationally with 26 rushing plays over 10 yards, while Harris was second with 18.
Eight of the top nine games for Harris in yards per carry in 2020 came in games that he had his most carries. Harris averaged a blazing 7.9 yards on 17 carries against UAB, 4.1 yards on 15 carries against North Carolina State and had 15 carries with a 6.4 YPC versus Duke. Harris had the same performance in 2019.
In his most carries in the 2019 season, Harris relieved an injured DeeJay Dallas during the overtime loss to the Yellow Jackets. Miami has lost the last two games to Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes and Yellow Jackets did not play in 2020 due to a Georgia Tech COVID-19 outbreak.
Harris’ 18 carries for 136 yards and 167 yards from scrimmage were the best of his career against Georgia Tech in 2019. Chaney had his biggest workload running with 10 carries for 43 yards and a TD in a victory over Virginia last season. Chaney’s most touches overall were 13 for 143 yards against Duke.
The higher YPC Chaney had was 8.3 with six carries for 50 and added three receptions for 44 yards against Oklahoma State in the Cheez-it Bowl. Chaney led Miami RBs with 143 receiving yards in 2020. Success for Knighton had no distinct pattern. Knighton had his highest total with 59 yards rushing on nine carries against UAB.
Knighton’s high total in carries was 12 for just 37 yards against Virginia. The 3.1 YPC was the fourth-lowest total for Knighton in 2020. The victory over the Cavaliers was also the highest workload for Knighton overall. Knighton added one reception for a loss of one yard against Virginia.
Harris struggled in the middle of last season with 28 carries for 35 yards and two receptions for 41 yards and a TD against Clemson, Pittsburgh and Virginia. Chaney and Harris have shown a great ability to handle a heavier workload than Knighton. Knighton would be an ideal third-down back for Miami in 2021.