First it was Beau Sandland, who transferred to Montana State, and then it was Kiy Hester leaving for Rutgers. Today, Quan Muhammad was suspended for the entire 2014 season. It remains unclear whether or not Muhammad will pursue a transfer. He will be eligible to rejoin the team in January.
Sandland was the most heavily recruited Junior College tight end in the entire country in the 2013 recruiting class. He visited a few schools and picked Miami over Arizona State in the end. Despite enrolling in school for the spring semester, Sandland was never a major factor in Miami's passing game last season. After catching six passes for 74 yards and a touchdown against Savannah State in the season opener, he caught just three passes for 16 yards over the next 12 games.
While it was clear that Sandland wasn't in the same league as Clive Walford as a pass-catcher, he did play ahead of Asante Cleveland and Standish Dobard all season. Those two combined for just four receptions all season. Sandland and Walford were dinged up a lot throughout spring, which opened for the door for Dobard to step it and play a bigger role.
While it remains unclear whether Sandland or Dobard is a better player, the coaches seemed to prefer Dobard which meant Sandland was facing the possibility of entering his senior season third on the pecking order at tight end. While it'd be nice having him around this season, losing your third best tight end usually isn't the worst thing in the world. He will redshirt this season and then play his senior season at Montana State in 2015. I wouldn't be surprised if he does really well and gets a shot to play on Sundays.
Hester, who left to be closer to his sick mother, was one of three defensive backs the Hurricanes signed this past February and he was considered the best prospect of the three. Recruited primarily as a cornerback, Hester was seeing action at safety during fall camp. That was likely going to be his future position here. With the recent season-ending injury to Rayshawn Jenkins, the Canes are now thin at the safety position. They're using just four players there -- and one is a former walkon.
While it's unclear how big an impact Hester would have played this season had he stayed, it is a big loss considering Miami has just two freshman defensive backs now. He seemed to have a bright future here and now it makes recruiting another high profile safety that much more important in the 2015 class. Four-star Jaquan Johnson is already committed and now the Canes will need to find another difference maker there in order to replace the loss of Hester.
The loss of Muhammad -- who was suspended by the school for an off-the-field incident from earlier this year -- is the biggest of the three in terms of the 2014 season. A former four-star prospect from one of the premier prep programs in New Jersey, Muhammad immediately became one of Miami's two third down pass rushers last season. He was competing with Tyriq McCord to become an every down starter at defensive end opposite Anthony Chickillo. He had an impressive blend of size, strength, and quickness. Miami has struggled to generate much of a pass rush since Al Golden took over the job here and Muhammad may have been the team's best.
Freshman Trent Harris will see an increased role now that Muhammad is out for the season. While Harris is talented and someone the coaches believe has a bright future here, it's unlikely that he'll be able to provide the same type of pass rush that Muhammad would have delivered. Getting Muhammad back in 2015 will be a big key for the Hurricanes -- about as big as any 2015 recruit that would start with the team next season.