Mario Cristobal calls offensive lineman Jalen Rivers rare talent

Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA;.Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA;.Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

In his weekly appearance on the Joe Rose Show on Monday, Miami head coach Mario Cristobal called offensive lineman Jalen Rivers a “rare” talent. Rivers provides the Miami football team with needed talent and versatility on the offensive line. Miami will be without starting left tackle Zion Nelson to begin the season.

Rivers is returning from a knee injury that cost him all but the first three games of the 2021 season. There is potential for Rivers to start at guard or tackle to begin the 2022 season. With Nelson out, Mario Cristobal and offensive line coach Alex Mirabal have been crosstraining the Miami OL at different positions.

Rivers is the most talented OL on the Miami roster. The ability of Rivers to play inside or at tackle helps the entire Miami football team. Rivers seems likely to begin the season at left guard. John Campbell is slated to replace Nelson to begin the season with fifth-year senior D.J. Scaife projected to start at right tackle.

Jakai Clark returns for Miami at center and Justice Oluwaseun seems the most likely to start at right guard. Miami has to upgrade the talent on the OL. Rivers is the 15th most talented player overall on the Miami roster. Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald quoted Mario Cristobal from his appearance on the Joe Rose Show.

"“(A) rare (talent) He’s an elite human being, an elite competitor, an elite athlete and a jumbo athlete at that…He runs like a big skill guy. He’s light-footed but he’s heavy handed, does that make sense? He can slug it out with you, man. “He can slide his feet, he can anchor down and redirect guy.Tremendous recoverability. Let’s say he happens to take a poor angle or someone was able to get to an edge before he got there, this guy can replace the hand, flip his hips, recover and still find a way to win the block. Man, he’s just a lot of value.’’"

Interior OL, Oregon transfer Logan Sagapolu and Ousmane Traore have also received time during training camp. Miami is not deep on the OL. Led by Nelson and Rivers the Hurricanes have the potential to be a productive OL if they can stay healthy. Nelson and Scaife give Miami two experienced leaders on the OL.

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Nelson has played in 35 games with 32 starts during his Miami career. Scaife has started 41 games for Miami since 2018. Rivers played in seven games as a true freshman in 2020 before the seven appearances in 2022. Clark will likely be another leader on the Miami OL. Campbell started six games in 2020 and 2021.