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Canes Update: The True Freshman Takeover

Photo Credit: Jared Lennon

Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson was able to provide inside information regarding the offensive side of the ball for Manny Diaz’s Hurricanes. And as it seems, numerous true freshmen could see the field this season.

Tyler Van Dyke Impressing Miami

One true freshman that might have impressed players and coaches the most this offseason through workouts and four total spring practices is Tyler Van Dyke. The 6-foot-4 quarterback could already have the strongest arm on the team, helping him shine among others. Van Dyke’s maturity and arm talent stand out, leading some to think he could be the favorite for the 2021 starting job.

Jackson spoke to two players on the team, one telling him that Van Dyke is “really, really good” and serves as the best quarterback behind D’Eriq King. The other player told Jackson that Van Dyke is “a gun slinger.”

If all goes as planned, Van Dyke is the favorite to become a starter for Hurricanes following the D’Eriq King era.Still, he could have to wait another year behind N’Kosi Perry, who’s expected to be the backup quarterback this upcoming season.

Knighton Could Be Third-Down Back

A 2020 signee that is bound for an immediate impact as a true freshman season is running back Jaylan Knighton. Knighton is a shifty burner with “every chance to win a job on third down,” Jackson said.

The Deerfield beach product could also make an impact on special teams, following a “big” play in practice prior to spring ball being halted.

Xavier Restrepo Bound For Early Snaps

A “dark-horse” candidate to get a lot of snaps this fall is slot receiver Xavier Restrepo. According to Jackson, Restrepo’s skill was displayed in just four spring practices:

“Among the four freshmen (Michael Redding, Daz Worsham, Xavier Restrepo, Keyshawn Smith), keep an eye on Restrepo, who impressed everyone in four spring practices and could get immediate work in the slot. “He’s real quick, real shifty, probably one of the fastest guys on the team already,” said safety Amari Carter, adding that Restrepo’s ability to get yards after the catch reminds him of Braxton Berrios.”

In addition, Jackson noted that receivers Mike Harley Jr., Mark Pope, Dee Wiggins and Jeremiah Payton are all expected to play this season.

O-Line Destined For New Faces

Jackson gave a small update on senior tackle Navaughn Donaldson, who announced on Wednesday that he’ll be redshirting the 2020 season.

Because of a knee injury sustained late in the 2019 season, which would have likely forced Donaldson to miss fall camp, redshirting the upcoming season was bound to take place. Redshirting the season now gives Donaldson the chance to play in four games in 2020 and all of the 2021 campaign.

With Donaldson out, the door has opened for younger guys to get more reps in 2020. Sophomore Jakai Clark will likely fill a guard spot after starting in 12 games in 2019.

D.J. Scaife will start somewhere on the line, preferably the right guard spot, after Miami was able to land Jarrid Williams from the transfer portal, who they plan on using at right tackle. Jalen Rivers is another young candidate to find himself in the rotation along the line. The 6-foot-5, 327-pound linemen could find himself at either tackle or guard this fall.

The last young linemen is true freshman transfer Issiah Walker Jr., who’ll apply for an eligibility waiver to play in 2020. With the pandemic, it will be tough for the NCAA to not approve the waiver for Walker, who originally signed with the Florida Gators before entering the transfer portal.

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