Miami Hurricanes likely to go with hot hand at running back

Dec 29, 2020; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2020; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Hurricanes top three running backs, fourth-year Cam’Ron Harris and second-years Don Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton have all missed time in training camp with injuries. Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee stated that a determination on the first-team RB might not happen until the first game.

Lashlee spoke to the media on Tuesday. With competition still emerging to be the first-team RB, the expectation should be that Harris will be the starter against Alabama on September 4. Harris led the Miami Hurricanes in 2020 with 643 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns and added 18 receptions for 131 yards and another TD.

As a returning starter and leading rusher, Harris is most likely to be named the first-team RB with none of the backs emerging as the clear leader. How Harris, Chaney and Knighton perform against Alabama will dictate the distribution of carries against the Crimson Tide. Harris needs more consistency in 2021.

Harris was the best inside runner for Miami in 2020 and Chaney the best outside runner according to David Hale of ESPN earlier this year. Knighton has the potential to be the most explosive runner best receiver out of the backfield for Miami in 2021. Harris, Chaney and Knight were all excellent receivers in 2020.

"“The good news is we have a lot of guys at a lot of positions competing to be in the mix to play…We want that guy to emerge but that may not be until we’re playing in the game. There will be multiple guys that play and hopefully one guy plays into that role and it’s pretty obvious.’I think Jaylan has had a really good camp…and has been at times nicked up, but he’s fought through it and practiced really hard. He ended spring well and has had a solid camp.In terms of Don, we’ve just got him back recently so it’s been good to see him kind of get back into the fold and get back into playing shape and in the swing of things. It’s probably a little incomplete still with him.’’"

Chaney is returning from offseason shoulder surgery. Miami averaged 38.1 rushing attempts per game in 2020 and the Hurricanes running backs caught a total of 42 passes. All but eight carries by the RBs in 2020 and two receptions were by Harris, Chaney and Knighton in 2020. Quarterback D’Eriq King had 130 carries last season.

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Lashlee would probably like to take some of that burden of running off of King in 2021. The Miami OC said during the spring he wants to find, in his words, a bell cow at RB in 2021. King led Miami in carries last season. Harris was second with 126. Chaney had 68 carries and Knighton 52. How opponents defend could dictate carries.