Alex Mirabal discusses Miami football OL leadership differences

Alex Mirabal discussed the different leadership qualities the offensive lineman have on the Miami football team after practice on Tuesday.
Oct 15, 2022; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA;  Miami Hurricanes offensive lineman Jalen Rivers (64)
Oct 15, 2022; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA; Miami Hurricanes offensive lineman Jalen Rivers (64) / Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Left tackle Jalen Rivers and right guard Anez Cooper return as multi-year starters on the offensive line for the Miami football team and the most experienced players up front. Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal discussed the contrasting leadership styles of Cooper and Rivers.

Cooper made four starts and played 10 games as a freshman in 2022. In 2023, Cooper started all 12 games at right guard. When he signed with the Miami football program in 2022, Cooper was the 1,150-ranked prospect, 109th offensive tackle and 47th recruit in Alabama per the 247Sports composite rankings.

Cooper became a key player on the Miami offensive line as a freshman. The ACC named Cooper honorable mention All-Conference as a sophomore in 2023. Cooper, rising sophomore Francis Mauigoa and Rivers return as starters for Miami in 2024. Miami added Indiana transfer center Zach Carpenter. 

With Carpenter at center, Cooper at right guard and Mauigoa and Rivers at the tackles, left guard is the sole starting position open for Miami. Cooper and Rivers have taken on leadership roles with the departures of starting center Matt Lee and left guard Javion Cohen. Cooper and Rivers will help mentor the new starting LG.

"Leadership wise Anez Cooper and Jaylen Rivers, I think Anez Cooper has been the transformation that that young man has done since he came on campus three
years ago with his hair down over his eyes. 'Cuz he was you know. wasn't confident speaking to people... Just the way he is right now, he's transformed his body, he's transformed his look, his hair, he's transformed his physique from almost a 400lb man to a 338 lb man. You know his confidence, his leadership all that and that stuff...He's one of those guys that has grown in that manner...Jalen Rivers he's you know he's one of those he's just a steady guy. You know he's the quiet guy, they want to know when talks about the one everybody wants to move to different positions, but he's always there. You know so Coup is a little more of the vocal leader and Jalen is more of this is the example guy. You know in terms of that so they're both lead, but in their own style and in their own personality. Which is which is awesome to see for me. I take as much pride in how they grow as young men and as how they grow as Leaders as how they grow as a right guard or a left tackle. "

Alex Mirabal, Miami offensive line coach

Rivers played in seven games as a true freshman in 2020. In 2021, Rivers earned starting left guard out of training camp but suffered a season-ending injury three games into the season. Rivers started seven of the nine games he played in 2022, primarily at left guard. Rivers started all 12 games at LT in 2023, earning second-team All-ACC.

After significantly improving in 2023, the Miami OL can become one of the best in the country again in 2024. Mirabal has disputed suggestions that Rivers could move inside and allow redshirt freshman Samson Okunlola to start at left tackle. Miami has cross-trained their OL under Mirabal. That will not change.

Miami plan is keeping Jalen Rivers at LT per Alex Mirabal. dark. Next. Miami plan is keeping Jalen Rivers at LT per Alex Mirabal

Expect Rivers to remain at LT, with Carpenter, Cooper and Mauigoa to stay in their positions. Okunlola could move inside for the 2024 season. Several other Miami OL will compete to become the starting LG. Mario Cristobal and Mirabal have emphasized the OL in recruiting. The OL will remain a point of emphasis under Cristobal and Mirabal.