Miami football could have short depth versus North Carolina

Sep 25, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

After announcing earlier in the week three Miami football players are out for the season, Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz stated on Wednesday that 10 players were out sick during practice on Thursday. Miami could be traveling to Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Thursday with a short depth chart.

Quarterback D’Eriq King, center Corey Gaynor and cornerback Al Blades Jr. are all out for the season according to Diaz earlier this week. Diaz reported that linebacker Sam Brooks, running back Cody Brown, tight end Khalil Brantley, wide receivers Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins plus five unnamed players missed practice with a virus.

Diaz reported that the virus is not COVID-related. Several recent reports have mentioned that Brooks, Pope and Wiggins could potentially enter the transfer portal. Brooks, Pope and Wiggins are not listed on the two-deep depth chart released by Miami earlier this week. That was as expected.

Brown is listed as the second-team RB for Miami against North Carolina on Saturday. Pope and Wiggins did not play against Virginia. In addition to the losses of King, Blades and Gaynor announced this week, Miami lost second-team RB Don Chaney Jr. for the season with a torn ACL last month.

Diaz also gave players an ultimatum that they are either in or out with the Miami football program. That played into the speculation about transfers, particularly Pope and Wiggins. Diaz stated COVID, the extra year of eligibility for all 2020 players and the young Miami players getting more reps can impact the locker room.

Pope and Wiggins are the primary veterans on the Miami football team who have been impacted. The fourth-year juniors have 30 starts combined with Miami. Second-year freshmen Xavier Restrepo and Keyshawn Smith have passed Pope for meaningful snaps this season. Wiggins is listed second-team for North Carolina.

Miami does expect several players who have recently been injured to return against North Carolina. Cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, defensive tackles Jared Harrison-Hunte and Jordan Miller, linebacker Keontra Smith and striker Amari Carter are expected to play Saturday at Chapel Hill.

Harrison-Hunte and Miller missed the last game against Virginia, Smith has been out for a few weeks, Carter missed the last two games and Stevenson part of the game against the Cavaliers. All of the above except Smith are listed on the two-deep depth chart for North Carolina. Waynmon Steed and Avery Huff are ahead of Smith.

The depth chart and season for Miami are in flux. The pressure on the Hurricanes and especially Diaz will increase infinitely if they lose at North Carolina. Nearly halfway through the season, every team is dealing with injuries. Miami has to get through them and as the cliche says next man up.

The Hurricanes will have a chance for young players to get more playing time. Restrepo and Smith have made an impact. Five freshman safety James Williams has worked his way on to the first team. The other Miami five-star freshman, defensive tackle Leonard Taylor had a breakout game against Virginia.

Next. Miami players whose time will increase with multiple players out. dark

Miami signed the 11th and 17th ranked recruiting classes in the last two years. If the Hurricanes are going to turn the season and program around, the young players will have to have a major impact. That will begin on Saturday against Virginia. Second-year freshman Tyler Van Dyke will start at QB for Miami.