Miami football is looking to get back on track in 2023 after the Hurricanes replaced multiple coaches ahead of the season.
The scheme changes that Miami is expected to have this season under former Houston Cougars offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson will definitely make them more dangerous in the passing game. The primary benefactor of the Dawson’s Air Raid offense will be quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who had uncharacteristic struggles last season due to injuries and a run-based offense.
That’s great news for a talented receiving corps that includes Colbie Young, Michael Redding III, Jacolby George, Xavier Restrepo, and Nathaniel “Ray Ray” Joseph.
Tight ends Jaleel Skinner and Riley Williams should love it as well. True freshmen Joseph and Williams, four-star recruits, will add physical elements that the Hurricanes didn’t have last season.
Nonetheless, Dawson has also routinely coached top-10 rushing offenses, and Henry Parrish Jr. and Don Chaney Jr. won’t be left by the wayside.
Moving on, the talent that the Hurricanes have along the offensive line inspires confidence. Between five-star recruits Francis Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola are talented transfers Javion Cohen and Matt Lee, while tackle Zion Nelson figures to be in the mix as well.
Meanwhile, the arrival of longtime defensive coordinator Lance Guidry should help the Hurricanes make more impactful plays on the defensive side.
Defensive backs Kamren Kinchens, James Williams, DJ Ivey, and Tyrique Stevenson made waves last season. However, the play of four-star edge rusher Rueben Bain may be especially significant. No players aside from defensive tackles Leonard Taylor and Jared Harrison-Hunte particularly standout on the defensive line aside from him.
At linebacker, the arrival of transfer Francisco Mauigoa (the brother of Francis) gives them a third linebacker with plus-production. Corey Flagg Jr. and Caleb Johnson are also impactful along the front-seven.
Miami position battles to watch at 2023 spring practice
One of the most interesting times of the football season is spring practice, as incoming freshman and transfer students battle it out with the existing talent for playing time. This season, the Miami Hurricanes have had a substantial influx of talent. So much so that the starters at multiple positions are in question.
The primary position battle should take place between two players that have been on the Hurricanes roster for multiple seasons: running backs Henry Parrish Jr. and Don Chaney Jr. Both players have spent time with the first unit offense during spring practice, with Chaney’s health giving him more than a fighter’s chance of overtaking Parrish as a starter.
A gifted pass-catcher and athlete at running back, Parrish rushed for 617 yards and four touchdowns last season while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He also pulled in 17 receptions for 120 total yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Chaney has not had a significant number of carries since the 2020 season, when he rushed for 322 yards on 68 attempts. While running for three touchdowns that season, he also caught 11 passes for 143 yards. Where Parrish is known for his burst, Chaney is known for his power.
However, freshman running back Chris Johnson can’t be counted out, as he was one of the fastest recruits in the state. His big-play ability may not be enough to garner him a starting spot, but he could still have a major impact.
Francis Mauigoa has already impressed Hurricanes coaches enough to have him lineup as a right tackle with the first team at practice, while fellow five-star Samson Okunlola has been with the second team as a left tackle. Once Zion Nelson is healthy, the chances are that he will compete for a starting spot as well, along with Chris Washington and Jalen Rivers.
Nonetheless, it won’t be surprising to see Miami opt to start both of their true freshmen by the time the season begins.
Okunlola, a high-level pass protector with a wrestling background, was the 16th overall recruit in the 2023 ESPN 300. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Mauigoa was even better in high school, as he was ranked as the 5th-best recruit in the nation by in the 2023 ESPN 300 and the best offensive tackle.
Miami is still Tight End U and that reputation comes with the desire to see special players at that position. Following the departure of Will Mallory, true freshman Riley Williams could emerge as the top option for Tyler Van Dyke.
However, while Williams was the second-ranked tight end in the 2023 class due to his athleticism and receiving abilities, those very same traits are hallmarks of Jaleel Skinner. Skinner was the top-ranked recruit in 2022 and could be first in line to see an expanded role this season. He is currently lining up with the second team behind Oregon transfer Cam McCormick, a blocking tight end who has been playing in the NCAA since 2016.
That said, Dawson is a former tight ends coach that used his tight ends in multiple ways at Houston. He will be quite fond of the athleticism of tight ends like Skinner and Williams, who could easily usurp Elijah Arroyo in the pecking order as he continues to heal from a knee injury.
While the Hurricanes have a number of solid receivers, none have truly emerged from the pack, all having similar production. However, the explosiveness and acceleration of Ray Ray Joseph could change all of that.
Joseph is considered a dynamic slot receiver that’s extremely elusive in open space. Although Brashard Smith and Xavier Restrepo have thrived in the slot, Dawson could find a way to give all three receivers ample opportunity to shine. Joseph could become a household name by the team the season is over.
An experienced and valuable returner as well, Joseph could also have competition there with running back Chris Johnson. Frankly, with so much competition for him, it will be interesting to see if he shines under the pressure.