If there’s one thing that Miami football head coach Manny Diaz has done well since taking over, it’s bringing in and retaining top talent at UM, and so far this offseason has been no exception.
Because of the disruption COVID-19 caused to college football season, the NCAA granted an additional year of eligibility to all current college athletes. What began as a Christmas gift from D’Eriq King, who was the first player to announce his return for another year, quickly became a tidal wave of starters announcing their intent to return for the 2021 season.
After King was senior receiver Mike Harley Jr., senior defensive lineman Jon Ford, junior defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera, redshirt senior offensive lineman Jarrid Williams, junior running back Cam’Ron Harris, junior defensive backs Bubba Bolden and Al Blades Jr. and redshirt senior linebacker Zach McCloud.
King coming back made sense. This NFL draft class is quarterback heavy. But all the other players deciding to return is a testament to the coaching staff and the culture of the Miami program, which after recording an 8-3 season just a year after going 6-7, seems to be heading in the winning direction. Miami football fans will tell you otherwise, obviously. A perfect season with a win over Clemson or nothing. Fire everyone.
But the reality is that minus a blowout loss to North Carolina and a bowl game defeat, Miami showed significant improvement. It appears that the culture of the team, a major issue in the past, is finally where it should be, which is made clear by players returning for another year.
“We are on the road of rebuilding and I would love to be a part of that,” Ford included in a post to his Twitter account.
— 96 L/H (@ford__9) January 13, 2021
Williams, a 2020 transfer from Houston posted on his Twitter account, “I looked back and realized there’s room for improvement, goals to achieve and everything to prove.”
Nothing to lose, everything to gain! pic.twitter.com/TQ5xrU0Go0
— Jarrid (@Jwill62_) January 16, 2021
And Harley, a hard-working and lead-by-example type of teammate that more than proved himself this season posted, “graduating college has been one of my main goals since I stepped foot on campus, but there is so much more I want to achieve on and off the field. The unfortunate circumstances of this past year have taught me to take full advantage of all the opportunities and resources I’ve been afforded at the University of Miami. I feel that there is still a lot of room for improvement as an athlete and as a student. My time is not yet up at the University of Miami.”
It’s time I remove my standardized way of living as well as my plans. Here’s the pen GOD! Ima enjoy my life as you write my story! pic.twitter.com/81B3P0lYng
— Michael Harley Jr. (@MikeHarleyjr) January 10, 2021
Not only are players deciding to return for another season, but, like last offseason, Miami has landed three big-name transfer students through the NCAA transfer portal.
Sophomore Tyrique Stevenson, a cornerback from the University of Georgia and a Miami native, had 34 tackles, one tackle for loss and five pass break ups in the 2020 season. Redshirt junior Charleston Rambo is a wide receiver from Oklahoma and has 76 catches, 1,180 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns in 36 games played. Junior Deandre Johnson, a defensive end from Tennessee and also a Miami native, has a career 15.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and five forced fumbles in 41 games played.
While the Hurricanes will be without D’Eriq King for most of the offseason while he recovers from a torn ACL, Miami is poised for success is 2021.