Miami Hurricanes Wide Receivers: 2016 Position Review
The passing attack of Miami has been potent since Brad Kayaa took over as a freshman. An integral part of that is due to the players who caught his passes. Miami has long had a tradition of having great pass-catchers that experience success on the collegiate level as well as professional. Ron Dugans was hired as the new position coach by Mark Richt and his guidance proved to be vital for his group this past season.
2016 Position Review: Miami Hurricanes Wide Receivers
There were many that wondered when the Stacy Coley of 2013, the Freshman All-American, would return. After a frustrating sophomore season and a junior season with a recurring hamstring injury, Coley contemplated skipping his senior season for the NFL. He returned not only to his freshman form but a more dynamic level, with production that matched his potential. Speed and quickness have always been a part of his skill set but as a senior he displayed a more complete game. His run-blocking improved tremendously, and when a clutch catch was needed Miami called his number.
Another element added in his game was his red zone game. He would lead the team in receptions and convert nine of them for touchdowns. Once the season concluded he would be again earn All-ACC honors, a feat he accomplished in three of his four seasons at Miami. In terms of legacy, Coley finished second all-time in program history in career receptions and fourth all-time with receiving touchdowns in a career.
After an ACL injury to Lawrence Cager in training camp, Miami was worried about who they would use to replace him at the position. Richards not only switched to the position in mid-camp but learned the entire playbook before the season started and earned a starting role. What was supposed to be an experiment turned out to be the pathway of a record breaking season. Richards broke several school records, most notably the receiving record for a freshmen which was previously held by NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.
In a game against Pittsburgh, Richards finished with 144 yards receiving. That broke his own school record set earlier that season against Appalachian State. Richards seemed to be challenging Irvin for his nickname “The Playmaker” after catching 13 passes for 20 or more yards. Although Richards may have a quiet demeanor, his play was far from it. He was recognized as a Freshman All-American as well as an All-ACC player.
The redshirt senior split time at slot wide receiver and started on kickoff return special teams. Even with his limited role within the offense he showed glimpses of what special ability he possesses, even after a dislocated ankle sidetracked his career at Miami. He was able to score his only touchdown of the season in his final game in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The junior wideout only caught 12 passes while splitting time with Lewis in the slot. He made his presence felt, however, on special teams. Berrios ranked 11th in the nation in punt return average. He had two near returns in games against Florida State and Notre Dame. This season was a boost to his confidence after missing three games the previous season. Even while splitting time in the slot he was able to post a career high in yards per reception average.
Harris was a junior college transfer in his first season with the Hurricanes. It looked like the coaching staff, as well as Harris, were trying to figure out what role would best suit the newcomer. He was able to catch nine passes on the season for 90 yards but didn’t have a large role within the offense. Next season looks to be more promising for the Mississippi native.
The wideouts looked good as a group in large part due to the top two excelling in their roles. Although Richards was a freshmen last season he excelled, because he had a veteran throwing him the ball and another highly skilled player on the opposite side. It remains to be seen how he will adjust to whoever is named the starting quarterback next season. Dugans hit the recruiting trail in impressive form this past season landing three receivers. Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley will arrive to Coral Gables in the fall while DeeJay Dallas has enrolled early and is looking impressive in spring football.