The 2020 recruiting class was a mild success for the Miami Hurricanes, given the kind of season they were coming off. The face of that class on the offensive side was running back Don Chaney Jr.
Chaney Jr. committed to the Hurricanes on February 3rd, 2019, and literally did not entertain a single soul with the idea of him taking as much as an unofficial visit anywhere outside of the University of Miami campus. Memories of Duke Johnson ran through the minds of the Canes faithful as he too was dead set on his commitment to the Hurricanes back in 2012.
His commitment to the class wasn’t all Canes fans were excited about, however. Chaney Jr. was a powerhouse of a back at Belen Jesuit (Miami, FL), and a legendary track and field athlete, capturing three state championships in the high jump, along with a respectable 10.8 time in the 100-meter dash.
Chaney Jr.’s athleticism translated to the football field, garnering over 4,500 yards and 60 touchdowns on 442 carries. His remarkable all-around play helped him be recognized as Miami-Dade’s Athlete of the year twice by the Miami Herald. All in all, the former Jesuit has the makeup to be the feature running back for the Canes in the future.
Chaney Jr. is a powerful back with a good frame, listed at 5-foot-11, 205-pounds. He has room to add some weight once in a college strength and conditioning program. His tape shows his patience when behind the line of scrimmage and his burst when he shoots through the hole. Chaney Jr. is more of a one-cut and run type of back who can run you over on his way to the endzone, which pairs him nicely with Miami’s other 2020 running back commit, Jaylon Knighton (who we will breakdown later).
It’s known that he can catch out of the backfield, as shown in his 7 on 7 play as well as his time at Nike’s The Opening. Though his tape and stats don’t show it since Belen Jesuit barely threw the ball at all, the former four-star running back has the skill to provide in many ways for the Hurricanes.
Still, he’s yet to have the opportunity, as a shoulder injury he sustained during the Under Armor All American game in January caused him to miss spring camp with UM.
How He Fits
Miami is implementing its first spread offense in program history. This means that for the first time since the early 2000s, Miami will be able to showcase its elite athletes in space.
But how does Chaney Jr. fit in this scheme? Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has produced six running backs in eight years, all rushing for over 1,000 rushing yards, four of which eclipsed 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns. To put this in perspective, the last person to rush for at least 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Hurricanes was Willis McGahee in 2002, when he posted a ridiculous 1,753 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns. To put it plainly, Lashlee has consistently produced elite level running backs at a rate the Hurricanes have never seen.
As for Chaney Jr., this has greatness written all over it. His combination of size, speed, and proven production in South Florida hints that Chaney Jr. has the potential to be another one of Lashlee’s elite running backs.
Chaney Jr. is set to make a full recovery from his shoulder injury, and I expect to see him get plenty of playing time. However, I think he will redshirt for his freshman year. Once Chaney Jr. has spent some time in the weight room and has gotten reps under Lashlee’s offense, I believe that he will be the feature running back alongside Knighton, to form one of the deadliest one-two punches in college football.