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Freshman Spotlight: Key Players to Watch as Miami Hurricanes Take on Bethune Cookman



Credit: Canes Football

The Miami Hurricanes play Bethune Cookman tonight at Hard Rock stadium in a game where they are the heavy favorites and are the betting favorites by 52 points. For Miami, the main objectives tonight, outside of securing a win, are to stay healthy and create opportunities for freshmen to gain valuable reps and live-game experience. Here are the key freshmen to keep an eye on tonight:

Emory Williams

Embodying the spirit of the Cristobal era, Emory Williams stands out as a player who epitomizes this mentality. Williams showcased his impressive skills during Spring and Fall practices, solidifying his position as “QB2,” not only through his leadership, but also his playmaking abilities. Even in his limited snaps against Miami of Ohio, Williams left a strong impression with his composed demeanor and control of the offense. This upcoming game presents an ideal opportunity for him to further enhance his in-game experience. A standout performance by Williams could significantly influence the recruitment of wide receivers in the class of 2024.

Nathaniel “Ray Ray” Joseph

Joseph is undeniably one of the team’s most gifted wide receivers, but he hasn’t been given the chance to demonstrate his abilities. The upcoming matchup against Bethune presents an ideal opportunity for Joseph to display his speed and skills. I expect to see Joseph make multiple, significant receptions and reach the end zone at least once. It should be a priority for Miami to target Joseph with passes, as he has the potential to make substantial contributions in crucial games later in the season.

Samson Okunlola

Okunlola was highly sought after in Miami’s 2023 recruiting class and is seen as the future starting left tackle for the Canes. Currently, he has had limited chances to play as he adapts to the college level. Ideally, if Miami can provide Okunlola with two full quarters of in-game experience, it would greatly benefit his growth and progress in becoming a more skilled player.

Damari Brown

Damari Brown possesses remarkable physical attributes, making him one of the most imposing cornerbacks on the team. While he is already prepared for college-level play, his playing time has been somewhat restricted due to the outstanding performances of TeCory Couch, Darryl Porter Jr., and Jaden Davis in the cornerback position. Nevertheless, the upcoming game against Bethune Cookman should provide Brown with ample opportunities to display his talents and gain valuable experience. This experience will serve as a stepping stone, positioning him to potentially become a key rotation player by the end of this season.

Jayden Wayne & Rueben Bain

Among the freshmen, Bain has been among those who have received the most on-field action thus far. Given the injuries affecting the defensive line, I anticipate that Bain will see significant playing time and potentially achieve a multi-sack performance. This upcoming game presents Wayne with his inaugural opportunity to log extended minutes, and it serves as a chance for him to make a strong impression on the Miami coaching staff, potentially leading to increased playing opportunities in future matchups.

Riley Williams

Williams has made a strong impression in his appearances this season. However, even though Cam McCormick has been the starting tight end in Arroyo’s absence due to his blocking skills, Williams has consistently performed well when given the opportunity, especially when paired with Emory Williams. We can anticipate Williams receiving more playing time and making offensive contributions in the coming games. It would be beneficial for him to focus on improving his blocking skills, especially against weaker opponents, as Coach Cristobal places a high emphasis on tight ends excelling in this aspect of the game.

Raul Aguirre Jr. & Malik Bryant

The Hurricanes recruited an exceptionally skilled group of linebackers last season, led by Bryant and Aguirre. These talented young linebackers have primarily been in backup roles behind Francisco Mauigoa, Wesley Bissainthe, K.J Cloyd, and Corey Flagg. I anticipate Bryant will see action at both outside linebacker and defensive end, and it will be intriguing to see how Guidry deploys him in these positions. As for Aguirre, he is a natural fit for the middle linebacker position, and it will be valuable for him to gain the necessary experience in order to be prepared to step into Mauigoa’s shoes next season.

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