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Spring Football Position Previews: Wide Receivers

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LifeWallet Athlete Frank Ladson Jr.

The wide receiver position was one of Miami’s most inconsistent during the 2022 season. Some players flashed potential, but injuries and a lack of reliable production plagued the unit. 

Entering spring practice, UM returns a majority of last season’s wide receiver core and expects competition from newcomers Nathaniel Joseph and Robby Washington, both of whom are highly touted freshmen. 

Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal previewed some of the position group on The Joe Rose Show on Feb. 24. 

“Guys like Isaiah Horton … that guy’s looking great,” Cristobal said. “[Fourth-year receiver Xavier] Restrepo is always busting his butt and done really well and then you got guys like [Joseph] and Robby, those guys [are] impressive dudes now, they can flat-out roll.” 

Restrepo, who missed six games in 2022 because of injuries, and sophomore Colbie Young are expected to be the leaders of this unit. Young showed signs of brilliance last season, combining for 15 receptions and 237 receiving yards in games against Duke and Virginia Tech. He led all receivers with 376 yards and a team-high five receiving touchdowns.

Brashard Smith and Jacolby George bring speed to the position. The two South Florida natives are entering crucial junior seasons, and Cristobal has already noticed improvement from not only them but from the unit as a whole.

“We definitely feel better at wide receiver, not only because of [freshmen wideouts Robby Washington and Nathaniel Joseph] but the tremendous uptick in the levels of commitment and levels of performance so far by some of the guys that have been here,” Cristobal said. “Guys like Jacolby George and Brashard Smith have taken a tremendous step up.” 

Cristobal also expects improvement from UM’s wideouts as a result of the system being implemented by new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who has a background running receiver-friendly offenses.

In 2022, with Dawson as the play-caller, Houston pass-catcher Nathaniel Dell ranked first nationally among all wideouts with 1,398 yards and 17 touchdowns. 

The Cougars’ passing offense finished the year ranked eighth nationally in yards per game. In comparison, UM ranked 60th.

Rounding out Miami’s wide receiver room are a pair of veterans: Michael Redding III and Frank Ladson Jr. 

Redding and Ladson started games for the Hurricanes last year. Ladson finished the season with 27 catches for 298 yards, which placed him third among UM’s receivers in each category. 

Key’Shawn Smith and Romello Brinson are the only two subtractions from the unit. Both receivers transferred to SMU in the offseason.

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