Miami Hurricanes second-year offensive players ready for bigger 2021 impact

Louisville Vs Miami 2020
Louisville Vs Miami 2020 /

Several second-year players on the Miami Hurricanes offense are ready to make bigger impacts in 2021 than they did in 2020. Offensive linemen Jalen Rivers and Isaiah Walker, running backs Don Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton, wide receivers Keshawn Smith and Xavier Restrepo are all ready for bigger roles in 2021.

Chaney and Knighton both contributed significantly as freshmen in 2020. Chaney was being projected by the consensus of Miami Hurricanes reporters to unseat fourth-year player Cam’Ron Harris as the first-team RB. During spring football, head coach Manny Diaz reported that Chaney needed shoulder surgery.

Chaney is expected to be out through August training camp but ready for the season opener on September 4 against Alabama in Atlanta. Knighton will have the chance to compete with Harris during training camp to earn the start against Alabama. The Miami Hurricanes rushing offense has a lot of room for improvement in 2021.

Miami finished 67th nationally in 2020 averaging 162.55 rushing yards per game. Harris led Miami with 643 rushing yards in 2020 on 5.1 yards per carry with 10 TDs. Harris added 18 receptions for 131 yards and one TD. Chaney had 322 rushing yards on 4.7 YPC with three TDs and 11 receptions for 143 receiving yards.

Knighton, regarded as the most explosive RB on the Miami roster, ran for 209 yards on 4.0 YPC and caught 11 passes for 135 yards and an exhilarating 75-yard TD against Louisville. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee wants to have a bell cow RB in 2021. Harris and Chaney are more equipped to handle heavy carries than Knighton.

Restrepo and Smith had minimal impacts for Miami in 2020. Restrepo had one reception for 12 yards and Smith two for 58 as freshmen in 2020. Smith frequently played with the first team at WR with Mike Harley and Charleston Rambo this spring. The ability for Smith to stretch opponents’ defenses will help offensively.

Restrepo is the heir apparent to Harley as a slot receiver. Smith had three receptions for 63 yards and two TDs. Both scores came on plays called by quarterback D’Eriq King who assumed the role of OC while rehabbing a torn ACL. Restrepo added four receptions for 42 yards and one TD. Both should contribute in 2021.

Rivers played 31 snaps on offense in 2020. Walker had to sit out the entire season after transferring from Florida. Rivers is expected to challenge incumbent left guard Jakai Clark for first-team snaps in 2021. Based on his ranking coming out of high school, Rivers is the most talented Miami offensive lineman.

Miami RB depth char projections entering summer. dark. Next

At 6’4, 309 pounds Walker has the size and athleticism to play tackle, but Miami can also move him inside to guard. With Rivers and Walker gaining a year of experience in the Hurricanes offense in 2020, they will add much-needed depth upfront in 2021. Miami should have an eight-man rotation on the OL this fall.