Manny Diaz wants freshmen to earn their way up depth chart

Jul 21, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; Head coach Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes speaks to the media during the ACC Kickoff at The Westin Charlotte. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 21, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; Head coach Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes speaks to the media during the ACC Kickoff at The Westin Charlotte. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami football team program signed the 11th best class in 2021, but head coach Manny Diaz is going to make his freshmen earn their way up the depth chart. Several of the Miami freshmen are expected to make an impact in 2021. Diaz spoke about how the first few days of practice on the Joe Rose Show on Monday morning.

Manny Diaz stated that all of the 2021 Miami freshmen began the first three days of practice on the third team. Tight end Elijah Arroyo, defensive tackle Leonard Taylor and safety James Williams are the three Miami freshmen most likely to play on offense or defense. Kicker Andres Borregales is a lock as the starter.

No official depth chart was released. Diaz wants to keep it that way until as close to the September 4 opener against Alabama as possible. Diaz jokingly told Rose that he is pretty sure about quarterback D’Eriq King and punter Lou Hedley in their positions. There are several other spots where players are likely secure.

Safety Bubba Bolden, wide receivers Mike Harley and Charleston Rambo, tight end Will Mallory and most of the offensive line are likely safe in their positions. Manny Diaz and the Miami coaching staff are fostering a competitive atmosphere at training camp. Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald transcribed the interview.

"“Real simple…We put all the freshmen for the first three days on the [third team], just so they didn’t have to worry about it. Everybody start and earn your way onto Greentree Practice Field. And they can ascend or whatever from there.Every other position, I told the staff I wanted 44 guys to run on one line in the first three days of practice. I just don’t want anybody comfortable that they have a job. I’m pretty sure Louie Hedley is going to be our punter and D’Eriq King is going to be our quarterback…Everything else is up in the air. And I think the players like that.They’re responding to it. It really doesn’t matter who a starter is on Aug. 6th or 9th. We’re just going to battle because guess what? It’s human nature: ‘Oh, I’ve got it,’ and then you let your foot off the gas and that’s something that’s been something that gotten us in the past. So, we’re going to stay after it.Everybody can have their guesses but whoever ran with the 1s on Day One they’re running with the 2s on Day Two. And guys will now go on battlefield promotions and demotions. That’s just the way it’s going to go here the next few weeks.”"

The 2021 signees are the highest-ranked class for Miami since 2018 when they were ranked eighth. Miami needs far more out of this class. The 2018 class with few exceptions did not reach its potential. Harley and Mallory were notables from 2018 with 2021 NFL Draftee Brevin Jordan. Diaz spoke about the 2021 signees.

"“We think very highly of them…The ones that obviously came midyear, they all impressed in the spring. But it has been fun to see, whether it’s the wideouts or James Williams, Leonard Taylor, [tight end] Elijah Arroyo. They’ve been what we thought they were.They did everything right in the weight room, they did everything right on campus academically. They’ve got a little something about them as a class collectively that makes them special in addition to their individual talents.”"

The 2021 wideout signees Manny Diaz referred to are four-stars Romello Brinson, Jacolby George and Breshard Smith. All three have a bright future. Behind Harley and Rambo the competition to play at wide receiver for Miami should be open. Second-year WR Keyshawn Smith has routinely been praised during the offseason.

Xavier Restrepo who was also a 2020 signee is expected to compete with 2020 starter Mark Pope to backup Harley in the slot. Pope and Dee Wiggins who started outside last season will have to improve to receive as many snaps as they did last season. Wiggins will have to compete with Smith to be a starting WR.

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Rambo is a near lock in one outside WR position. Borregales comes in having to succeed his brother Jose who won the Groza Award as the best kicker in college football in 2020. With 19 starters returning for Miami in 2021 plus Hedley, the pressure will not be on the young players to produce as much as in recent seasons.