ESPN names Miami football 2022 surprise team

Nov 20, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami football team was named in an ESPN “College football roundtable: Which team will be the biggest surprise in 2022? ESPN writer Chris Low and Adam Rittenberg both named Miami as teams to watch. The Hurricanes’ games at Texas A&M in September and Clemson in November will gain national attention.

Miami returns 14 starters in 2022. An almost entirely new coaching staff should provide new energy for the Miami football program. Mario Cristobal salvaged a Miami 2022 class that was headed towards the seventies before finishing 15th. The foundation for the Miami football team is around quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.

Van Dyke exceeded expectations in 2021 after succeeding D’Eriq King as the Miami QB. Miami also has to replace leading receivers, Mike Harley and Charleston Rambo. Cristobal has solidified the Miami defensive line with the addition of three transfers and two highly ranked freshmen edge rushers.

Setting the expectations in the first year of a new coaching staff is often difficult. The low bar for the Miami football program should be to at least contend in the ACC Coastal Division every season. As Cristobal sets the foundation, ACC titles and College Football Playoff appearances will emerge as the bar rises.

"“Chris Low: Road games at Texas A&M (Sept. 17) and Clemson (Nov. 19) are daunting, but don’t sleep on Miami being a real contender in the ACC’s Coastal Division in Mario Cristobal’s first season at The U.Quarterbacks are always the great equalizer, and Tyler Van Dyke returns for his third season on campus after earning ACC Rookie of the Year honors a year ago with 2,931 passing yards and 25 touchdown passes.Cristobal loaded his staff with veteran coaches, and the Hurricanes have already made waves on the recruiting trail.  If some of the newer faces come through at receiver and at linebacker, Miami has the talent to make the month of November an interesting one in Coral Gables…Adam Rittenberg “Miami is expected to enter the CFP mix relatively soon under Cristobal. While a first-year run would be a surprise, the Hurricanes are worth watching.”"

Miami will host Bethune-Cookman and Southern Mississippi before they travel to Texas A&M. It will be a huge jump in competition after the Hurricanes should ease into the Cristobal era the first two weeks. Miami is more likely to count on the returnees at receiver than newcomers as Low suggests.

After starting most of last season, Keyshawn Smith is poised to step up as the top receiver for Miami. Xavier Restrepo should make the transition from Harley as the slot receiver seamless. The three amigos of Romello Brinson, Jacolby George and Brashard Smith with Clemson transfer Frank Ladson provide depth at WR.

Linebacker is a greater concern. Miami has had inconsistent LB play since losing four-year starters Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman following the 2019 season. Corey Flagg, Keontra Smith and Waynmon Steed return as the main LBs from 2021. Freshman Wesley Bissainthe is expected to challenge for first-team.

Next. Miami CFP chance compared to other teams with 1st year coaches. dark

Miami hosts Florida State and North Carolina and plays at Virginia Tech in what should be their other most challenging games in 2022. If Miami can win two of those three games the Hurricanes should have a successful season and challenge for an ACC Coastal Division title. Cristobal will be watched in his first season at Miami.