PFF names 3 Miami Hurricanes as its 2022 cut-out candidates to watch

Three Miami hurricanes have been named by Pro Football Focus in “2022 College Football: 31 Outstanding Nominees to Watch.” Defensive interventionist Leonard Taylor, safety James Williams and wide receiver Brachard Smith are among the shortlisted separate candidates for 2022. Taylor and Williams are both expected starters.

Smith is expected to back up the Xavier Restrepo as the slot receiver. The PFF roster does not include any back players and has no particular order. Smith demonstrated his game-breaking ability last season with 14 receptions for 199 yards, two touchdowns and six busses for 23 yards as a true freshman.

With Mike Harley graduating, Smith will have a much bigger role in the Miami Hurricanes in 2022. Restrepo had 24 receptions for 373 yards and two touchdowns as backup for Harley last season. Smith is expected to line up at several different locations for Miami under new offensive coordinator Josh Gates.

Miami has mostly inexperienced, but talented WR Corps. Key’shawn Smith is the first returning WR player for Miami in 2022 with record-setters Harley and Charleston losing Rambo after the 2021 season. Smith has high expectations in 2022 with analysis from the PFF as a potential breakout player.

WR BRASHARD SMITH, MIAMI HURRICANES
Everyone knows new offensive coordinator Josh Gates likes to be tricky, so expect a good amount of tricks, reversals and other tricks to keep the defense on its toes, and Smith is likely the playmaker that Gates uses in these scenarios.

The 2021 four-star recruit has the speed to turn planned touches into big gains, with the 5-foot-10, 194-pound receiver getting an 88.3 receiving score from 25 tracks last season.

He was targeted 14 times at an average depth of 0.9 yards and averaged 13.4 yards after holding from 14 receptions with four broken tackles.”

Taylor was an influential player in Miami as a real freshman. Taylor played in the last nine games of the season, had 26 tackles, tied the team with 8.5 tackles for a loss, picked up 4.5 sacks and forced fouls. Taylor plays the entire season as a rookie, and should break those numbers as a sophomore in 2022.

D. Leonard Taylor, Hurricane Miami
“Taylor was a five-star recruit in 2021 and did well as a freshman but was just scratching the surface. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound in-house defender running average in 2021 would have led the ACC had he played enough of shots to qualify (29.3%.) In all, he received a score of 71.7 PFF across 200 shots.

If Taylor reaches his roof sooner rather than later, Miami could boast one of the best defensive lines in the country.”

Williams was impressive as a true rookie in 2021 with 31 tackles, 0.5 TFL, led Miami with two interceptions, and added two playoffs. Miami will have a deep safety corps in 2022 with Brian Palum, Camryn Kenshins and Avantai Williams with James Williams. PFF expects great play from Williams in 2022.

James Williams, Miami Hurricanes
“Williams has superhuman potential thanks to his uncommon physical traits. It’s not a question of if – it’s a question of when – the 6-foot-5, 224-pound safety makes the major jump. The 2021 five-star recruit produced the fourth-highest coverage score in the ACC (78.1) as a real freshman last year.”

Miami’s defense has the potential to improve dramatically under the leadership of veteran first-year Joint Defense Coordinators Kevin Steele and Charlie Strong. Miami has hired Jhamil Adi as the new defensive back coach under new coach Mario Cristobal. Expect Williams to be used in defense like Smith in attack.

Williams’ size would allow Addai, Steele, and Strong to position Williams into multiple defensive positions. Williams is good at playing in the box or in the cover. Expect Kenshins, Avantai Williams, and James Williams to play together frequently. Miami should have a versatile defense in 2022.

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