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How Miami Revamped Its Offensive Line This Offseason + Insight on Matt Lee’s Recruitment to UM



Photo Credit: From @matt.lee // Instagram

The Miami Hurricanes underwent a massive roster revamp following a disappointing losing season in 2022. Over 20 players from last year’s team entered the portal, and UM’s coaching staff brought in acclaimed high school players and established transfers to fill these roster vacancies.

Offensive line was the position group that might’ve seen the most change, as four of the five Week 1 starters from last season are no longer on the roster. This unit struggled for much of the year, and head coach Mario Cristobal thinks that this lack of productivity in the trenches contributed to Miami’s overall poor play.

“At the end of the day, we’re not coaching seven-on-seven,” Cristobal told ACC Network during the 2023 ACC Kickoff on Tuesday. “And I think we all know that a lot of things last year that were very difficult for us, it stems from not being great at the line of scrimmage.”

The Hurricanes added experienced talent to their offensive line in Alabama transfer Javion Cohen and University of Central Florida (UCF) transfer Matt Lee, as well as first-year offensive tackles Francis Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola, who were among the top-rated players in the class of 2023.

Lee brings an especially prolific background with him to Coral Gables. In his four seasons at UCF, Lee was a three-year starter and was on the All-American Athletic Conference teams in 2020 and 2022. As a redshirt junior, Lee earned a 90.6 pass-blocking grade and an 80.6 run-blocking grade and was recognized as the third-highest center nationally by Pro Football Focus.

“Matt Lee embodies everything you want in a center,” Cristobal said. “Tremendous confidence because he’s earned it through work and because he knows what he’s doing, how to do it, and why we’re doing it that way, and he holds those other guys accountable.”

Lee was regarded as a priority by the ‘Canes during his recruitment this past offseason. Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke even made the trip down to Miami from his hometown of Glastonbury, Conn. during Lee’s official visit in January.

“[Van Dyke] decided to fly down for those two days which meant a little bit more to me because he’s on break and he’s a 1,000 miles away in Connecticut,” Lee told ACC Network. “He came down, spent those two nights with me, spent the days with me and really got to know me and I got to know him well.”

Lee also shared a story about Cristobal during his visit.

“It was me, offensive line coach [Alex] Mirabal, and we were sitting in the o-line room watching my film, watching some UM film, just talking football back and forth, whatever, offensive line play. Coach Cristobal was sitting in the back, all the way up the stairs, and sitting there observing like he always likes to do a lot,” Lee said. “Me and coach Mirabal went back and forth for like a five-minute tirade, just deep complex football stuff. Cristobal gets up and stomps down the stairs, he points at me and he’s like, ‘You’re our guy, we need you here.'”

Lee committed to Miami following this visit, and he will be one of the centerpieces of Miami’s new-look offensive line in 2023.

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