Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya has thrown for more than 3,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter. He needs a little more than that to become the program’s all-time leading passer. Of the pass-catchers coming back from last year, who will step up to be the guy that Kaaya depends on in the clutch? Do the Canes have such a receiver?
Two names pop up immediately after eliminating two of Miami’s top three receivers who were seniors in 2015. Stacy Coley has the most experience. The incoming senior is also the leader in receiving yards among those coming back.
Coley hauled in 47 passes a year ago, for 689 yards (second on the team) and four touchdowns.
“Stacy has been working; he’s trying to be more of a leader,” said Canes wide receivers coach Ron Dugans. I challenged him. I want him to be one of the leaders in that room.”
The other is not a wide receiver at all but a tight end. David Njoku grabbed 21 passes for 362 yards and a touchdown last year as a freshman. Though it would appear that he would be used mostly as a blocker in head coach Mark Richt’s offensive scheme, he still could prove productive in the pass game again this season.
Richt said he feels like the receiving corps as a group has exhibited better game competitive speed.
“I wouldn’t say in the whole receiver group no one had speed – but as a group, we didn’t have that much speed (last year),” Richt said. “Now we have more guys that can run and really be competitive. We’re doing a lot better. Hopefully we’ll continue to recruit well and get more guys. We don’t have enough still, but we have more than we had.”
Richt also indicated that incoming senior Malcolm Lewis has been impressive over the spring and into preseason camp. Lewis caught just five passes for 47 yards last season after a decent junior year in which he collected 248 receiving yards and one touchdown on 25 receptions.
“He’s kind of under the radar to me a little bit,” Richt said. “I think he’s a very good player, and I think he is a guy we’re going to have to count on this year, and I think he’ll do well for us. I think he leads by example.”
Dugans said he has encouraged the senior to lead by example.
“I feel like he can bring something to the table for us,” Dugans said.
A competitor, Lewis has speed and good ball skills. Because of that he’s been working with the special teams as well.
Braxton Berrios is another possibility this season. As a sophomore last year, he made 12 catches for 86 yards
“He’ll be an every down option,” Richt said.
That’s because as the Hurricanes, go tempo they’ll need fresh bodies at all times. Berrios will have a role in that.
Although the offense isn’t structured for Berrios to be a main target, he still could be the first progression and become a key receiver for the Canes this season.
Beyond that it’s a group of youngsters still finding their way. Dayall Harris, Ahmmon Richards and Sam Bruce are all capable but still working through the process.
Though Coley looks like the guy, the Canes have multiple weapons and the uptempo offense will lend itself to many different players making big plays.