Miami Hurricanes interior offensive line has 2021 competition

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

The interior of the Miami Hurricanes offensive line will be competitive when training camp begins in August. Navaughn Donaldson who enters his fifth season in 2021 is the expected starter at right guard. Jakai Clark returns at left guard but is being pushed by second-year offensive lineman Jalen Rivers on the first team.

Donaldson missed all but two games in 2020. After suffering a season-ending knee injury against Duke late in the 2019 season, Donaldson returned in 2020 to play against the Blue Devils and against Oklahoma State in the Cheez-it bowl. Donaldson has 34 career starts in 40 games with the Miami Hurricanes.

A 2017 true freshman all-American, Donaldson hopes to get back to playing that form in 2021. Clark has played in 23 games the last two seasons with 22 starts. Clark started 10 games at left guard in 2020 and started 12 games at right guard in 2019. Rivers enters his second season in the Miami football program.

As a true freshman in 2019, Rivers only had snaps against Florida State and North Carolina. Also figuring in the rotation is veteran John Campbell. Campbell redshirted as a true freshman in 2018. In 2019, Campbell played in 11 games with two starts. Campbell played in seven games with four starts at left tackle in 2020.

Campbell, D.J. Scaife who is entering his fourth season and Rivers will be valuable as the swing offensive lineman. Miami will also have the benefit in 2021 of center Corey Gaynor returning for his third season as the starter. Clark also provides versatility. Signed as a center, Clark projects to be the successor to Gaynor.

Clark would take over at center if Gaynor gets hurt in 2021 or potentially if Gaynor decides to leave after 2021. Gaynor is entering his fifth season with the Miami Hurricanes. With the extra season granted by the NCAA, Clark and Gaynor have two seasons of eligibility remaining, instead of 2021 being their last year.

Rivers and Isaiah Walker signed with Miami as tackles in 2020. Walked came to Miami after one semester as an early enrollee at Florida in spring 2020. Walker projects to backup at tackle, but could potentially move inside to guard if Miami needs him to. Scaife started the last two seasons for Miami at guard.

During spring practice, Scaife was moved back to his more natural position of right tackle. Kai-Leon Herbert, Zalon’tae Hillary and Ousman Traore add depth. They would only be expected to become part of the rotation on the Miami interior OL if there were significant injuries.

Freshman Laurence Seymore has a bright future. Seymore could be headed towards a redshirt season in 2021. If Miami has injuries on the OL, the Hurricanes would have to decide to bring Seymore out of a potential redshirt. Players can compete in up to four games and still maintain a redshirt season.

The Miami OL faces a season of transition in 2021. The Hurricanes could lose Gaynor, Donaldson, Scaife and LT Zion Nelson. Right tackle Jarrid Williams is in his seventh and final season of eligibility. Clark also has the option to enter the 2022 NFL Draft. The hurricanes have a deep and experienced OL in 2021.

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Getting some of the younger players snaps in 2021 will be crucial for the future. Balancing snaps by getting the best players on the field and developing for the future will be a tough task for head coach Manny Diaz, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and OL coach Garin justice.