Sizing up the Canes’ offensive roster, depth chart and where things stand before spring

The Miami Hurricanes haven’t released a depth chart in more than a year. But if they did, here’s how it might look on offense, with notes on each position, heading into the start of spring practice on Monday:


The timing of Cam Ward’s decision to bypass the NFL Draft and play at UM was important, because it happened just before the deadline for student-athletes to enroll for the spring semester.

Ward subsequently enrolled, meaning he will participate in spring practice and begin to develop chemistry with his receivers and new center Zach Carpenter.

He will also have another dozen or so practices, and two or three scrimmages, to become comfortable in Shannon Dawson’s offense.

We chronicled Ward in a four-part series earlier this offseason, with Washington State’s radio analyst sizing up Ward in Part 1; one critical thing about Ward and the background on his decision to join UM in Part 2; thoughts from Fox’s Washington-based Brock Huard and Washington State coaches in Part 3; and more metrics and nuggets in Part 4.

Washington State coach Jake Dickert said this past season that Ward is “wildly talented. We saw that from Day 1. I think Cam deserves to be mentioned with the best quarterbacks in the country, period. I think he continues to show that, and I think nationally we undervalue him and what he’s doing.”

Ward’s 3,736 passing yards last season were eighth most in college football, per He threw 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and completed 66.7 percent of his passes, while rushing for eight TDs. He had a great 113.5 passer rating against Top 25 teams.

His 14 fumbles last season were second most in FBS, and he has taken 85 sacks the past two years (most in college football), though the Cougars’ offensive line was primarily to blame for that. If you remove sacks, he averaged 4.98 yards rushing on 81 carries in 2023.

“He’s an explosive player who is a great leader,” coach Mario Cristobal told On3’s J.D. PicKell. “He’s got a great presence about him. He’s been in big games, big situations, tough situations, has been overmatched personnel-wise and still finds a way to create some dynamic, explosive plays, manage a game, make a lot out of a little sometimes....He’s very intent on helping Miami become a prominent football program once again, and he does not shy away from competition.”

The battle for the backup job will be a spirited one among Jacurri Brown, who vowed he will remain at UM at least through this calendar year; Albany transfer Reese Poffenbarger and Emory Williams, who isn’t expected to be ready for spring ball after an arm injury against FSU.

Freshman Judd Anderson is an early enrollee and gives the Canes five scholarship quarterbacks.


Mark Fletcher Jr. (4.9 yards per carry as a freshman) ended the season as a starter before an injury in the Pinstripe Bowl, one that is expected to sideline him this spring. Because of the high upside and productivity, it would be mildly surprising if he’s not the starter Aug. 31 at the Gators.

Henry Parrish Jr. (6.3 yards per carry) has a slight edge for the No. 2 job; he played 249 offensive regular-season snaps (including the majority early in the season) and Fletcher played 239.

Ajay Allen — who played 153 regular-season snaps and averaged 5.2 yards per carry on 70 carries — could push Parrish for the No. 2 job.

Four others factor in: TreVonte Citizen, who’s back from a major August 2022 knee injury that essentially sidelined him for two seasons; speedy second-year back Christopher Johnson, who played just 22 offensive snaps but will get a long look; and freshmen four-star back Jordan Lyle and three-star back Chris Wheatley-Humphrey, who also can play cornerback. Whether Citizen can regain his pre-injury form remains one of the key questions of the offseason.


Never this century had Canes tight ends been less of a threat in the receiving game than last season; they were targeted just 30 times in 2023. That must change to make this offense more dangerous and diversified.

Elijah Arroyo has the ability to do that and be a complete tight end; he enters as the favorite to be the starter after being limited to 47 offensive regular-season snaps in 2023 because of the residuals of a September 2022 knee injury.

Cam McCormick, who was needed to play far more snaps than ideal last season (530), returns as a perceived blocking specialist. He’s the first player in college football history to play a ninth season. McCormick isn’t much of a threat at receiver; he had eight catches for 62 yards and three drops last season and has just 26 catches in his career.

Pro Football Focus rated McCormick as UM’s worst player on offense last season and said that despite the perception, his blocking was actually well below average in their grading system. The Canes would dispute that. Either way, it won’t be a good sign if he plays nearly as much as last season.

The expectation is that Jackson Carver, who played six snaps, must bulk up and improve to become an FBS-level blocker if he remains at UM.

Riley Williams, who played 299 offensive snaps as a freshman, has the physical skills to be a starter someday but must make a big leap. He had eight catches for 72 yards and a touchdown but also two drops last season.

The question is how coaches will distribute snaps between Williams and McCormick. If Williams plays well as as a receiver and blocker, McCormick’s role could diminish.

Four-star Las Vegas-based Elija Lofton has the skill to compete immediately but won’t be needed immediately if receiving threats Arroyo and Williams stay healthy and productive.


With Colbie Young having transferred to Georgia, Xavier Restrepo (85 receptions, 1,092 yards, six touchdowns) and Jacolby George (57-864-8) are cinches to retain major role, and Isaiah Horton (13 for 168) has a very good chance to be the No. 3 receiver.

Horton was second behind George in yards after catch (8.6 average) and caught the 52-yard TD against Texas A&M. He’s positioned to take Young’s spot in the offense and coaches love his upside.

George must clean up the drops (five last season) and the penalties; he had four personal foul/unsportsman like conduct infractions in the final three games — all of them of the mindless variety.

Beyond those top three, it gets very interesting. Brashard Smith transferred to SMU, leaving three second-year Canes (Nathaniel Joseph, Robby Washington and Shemar Kirk) and three freshman (Ny Carr, Josisa Trader and Chance Robinson) competing for two or three rotation spots. Of the three freshmen, Carr and Trader are enrolled; Robinson will enroll this summer.

Michael Redding, who played just 12 offensive snaps, also remains on the roster at this time.

Of the freshmen, Carr is considered by some to be the most likely to make an impact as a freshman. But don’t discount Trader helping immediately, too .

”Big-time kid, elite Power 5-type of guy that Alabama or Ohio State would be happy to have aboard,” recruiting analyst Larry Blustein said of Trader. “Gets open, athletic, not blazing speed. He knows how to run routes.”

Of the second-year players, perhaps a bit more was expected initially from Joseph, who played just 55 offensive snaps. But opportunities were limited for Joseph in the slot, where his speed and shiftiness can be maximized.

Robby Washington played just nine offensive snaps and Kirk none after transferring from Reedley Community College.

One question is whether Ward will target Restrepo quite as much as his buddy and former roommate, Tyler Van Dyke, did. Restrepo was targeted 119 times, 18th most in the nation.


The right side of the line (tackle Francis Mauigoa and guard Anez Cooper) appears locked in, and Indiana transfer Zach Carpenter is the heavy front-runner at center. Mauigoa reportedly will miss spring practice after surgery.

With the left side of the line, the Canes have interesting options. They could add a veteran left guard to replace Javion Cohen — they pursued Washington transfer Nate Kalepo, who opted for Mississippi instead - or they could give the job to Michael McCoy, who appears the best internal guard option, or possibly tackle Zion Nelson or Tommy Kinsler.

McCoy played 112 regular-season snaps last season (often as a sixth offensive lineman in a pseudo tight end role) and played a lot at left guard in the bowl game in the wake of Cohen’s departure, though he came off the bench in that Rutgers game behind Luis Cristobal, who struggled and would be a long shot to start in 2024.

There’s another more intriguing option: Moving Jalen Rivers from left tackle back to guard and inserting Samson Okunlola — the top tackle prospect in the 2023 class — at left tackle if he earns the job or inserting highly regarded junior college newcomer Markel Bell at left tackle if he earns the job.

Rivers has become a clearly above-average left tackle; he yielded 14 pressures and two sacks in 442 pass blocking snaps. So UM would need to have a conviction that Okunlola or Bell is ready to be a quality starter before considering this type of move.

This fall, UM needs another step from former five-star prospect Mauigoa, who allowed 24 pressures and five sacks in 437 pass blocking snaps as a freshman. PFF said Mauigoa was UM’s second-best offensive line starter as a run blocker, behind only Lee.

Cooper developed well last season, permitting just nine pressures and one sack in 442 chances as a pass blocker.

Carpenter’s body of work suggest he’s not as good as his predecessor, NFL-bound center Matt Lee. But from all indications, he’s an above-average interior lineman.

PFF rated Lee the seventh-best center in FBS with grades of 89.1 as a pass protector and 73.7 as a run blocker. Carpenter was rated above average — 132nd overall (among 295 qualifying centers), with a 71.2 pass blocking grade and a mediocre 61 run-blocking score. In similar snap counts, Lee allowed no sacks and Carpenter permitted three.

With 20 scholarship offensive linemen, the roster likely will thin after spring ball. UM needs to create more openings to add more portal players.

Beyond Rivers, Okunlola, Carpenter, Cooper, Mauigoa and McCoy, returning offensive linemen remaining and their regular season snap counts last season include Cristobal (29), Kinsler (2), backup center Ryan Rodriguez (57), Logan Sagapolu (29), Nelson (didn’t play in 2023 because of a knee injury that limited him to 61 snaps in 2022), Jonathan Denis (didn’t play), Chris Washington (didn’t play), freshman Antonio Tripp (didn’t play) and freshman Frankie Tinilau (didn’t play).

There are also five newcomers, all three-star prospects: Kavion Broussard, Juan Minaya, Bell, Nino Francavilla and Deryc Plazz.

Here’s our position-by-position preview of UM’s defense.