Entering spring practice, there are several positions to watch for players who will battle for their jobs in spring practice. One returning starter and two projected starters will likely have to compete for their jobs this spring. Miami returns 14 players from the Pinstripe Bowl who are projected to start in 2024.
Cameron McCormick was the primary starting tight end for Miami in 2023. McCormick tied for the Miami team lead among TEs with eight receptions and was second with 62 yards. Three of McCormick's receptions went for first downs and he had one for 15 yards or more.
McCormick is an adept blocker. Miami needs more from its TEs as receivers. Miami TEs had 18 receptions for 154 yards and one TD in 2023. Expect Riley Williams to be the primary challenger to compete with McCormick for first-team snaps. Miami needs to get Elijah Arroyo healthy at TE.
Arroyo has missed most of the last two seasons with a knee injury. Miami also has redshirt freshman Jackson Carver and 2024 four-star signee Elija Lofton at TE. Arroyo played in six games last season, with one reception for 11 yards versus Boston College. Carver played versus Miami (Ohio) and Temple without a reception.
The departure of Javion Cohen to the NFL with one year of eligiblity remaining leaves left guard open for competition. Redshirt sophomore Matthew McCoy is the consensus favorite to earn first-team snaps at LG this spring. McCoy will have numerous challengers.
Miami has a few directions they can go at left guard. Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal cross-trains all his offensive linemen. Miami could start the best players on the OL regardless of position. The primary option if Miami chooses that route would be the potential of starting left tackle Jalen Rivers moving to guard.
Former five-star 2023 offensive tackle signee Samson Okunlola would be the likely starter at LT if Rivers moves inside. Okunlola played in only three games in 2023 before suffering a season-ending injury. Redshirt freshmen Tommy Kinsler and Frankie Tinilau should also be in the mix for snaps at LG this spring.
The third player most likely to be challenged this spring is WR Isaiah Horton. Horton is the projected third WR for Miami in 2024, behind Xavier Restrepo and Jacolby George. Miami could bring in a transfer after spring practice is over. Horton is the only WR on the 2024 Miami roster over 6'2, at 6'4.
Horton had 13 receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown in 2023. Returnees Ray-Ray Joseph and Robby Washington and early enrollees Ny Carr and Chance Robinson could challenge Horton for first-team reps this spring. Quarterback Cam Ward building a connection with his receivers will be important this spring.
Miami has a roster in transition this spring with some experienced players to build around. With about two-thirds of the starters returning, Mario Cristobal and his staff will have some continuity this spring. Cristobal has almost completely turned over the roster to the culture he wants entering his third spring.