Next Man Up (Replacing Stacy Coley)

The Hurricanes are losing 11 seniors from its 2016 team, and 3 juniors have declared for the NFL Draft. It's time for us to take a closer look at who will be replacing those 14 players. This piece focuses on replacing wide receiver Stacy Coley.

Gone: WR Stacy Coley
After an up and down three-year career playing for head coach Al Golden, Coley exploded for a very good senior season in Mark Richt's offense. His 63 catches and nine touchdowns both led the team and he finished the season with 754 yards. He was clearly the team's top outside receiver for the first few months of the season. He's a very talented kid who CBS Sports gives a 4th round grade to. To put that into perspective, the Canes have had only four wide receivers over the last 10 years who were drafted in the first four rounds (Phillip Dorsett, Travis Benjamin, Leonard Hankerson, and Sinorice Moss). It's fair to say Coley is one of the five most talented wideouts to play at Miami over the last decade. 

Next Man Up: Dionte Mullins
The answer to this question is essentially trying to figure out who will emerge as the team's No. 2 wide receiver behind Ahmmon Richards in 2017. Richards ended the season as the team's top wide receiver and will clearly go into the 2017 season that way -- especially with Coley gone. There are four players I think have a chance to become that guy -- Lawrence Cager, Jeff Thomas, DeVonta Smith, and Mullins. 

Cager has ideal size (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) and leaping ability, and he played in 11 games as a true freshman in 2015 (catching eight passes for 70 yards and a score). He was expected to play a key role for the Hurricanes in 2016 before a knee injury wiped away his entire sophomore season. He's expected to be back to full strength in 2017 and could emerge as the team's No. 2.

Thomas and Smith are both still in high school. They're the two best and most likely options among wide receiver prospects for the Hurricanes at the time this story was written. Smith (a Louisiana native) is also considering LSU and Alabama. Thomas (Illinois) is looking at schools like Tennessee and Louisville. They're both physically gifted enough to make an early impact wherever they go and it's not unrealistic to think either one could become Miami's No. 2 wide receiver in 2017.

While Cager, Thomas, and Smith are all possibilities, the player I think will be that guy is Mullins, who will be a redshirt freshman in 2017. At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, he lacks ideal size and it's discouraging that he was unable to see the field in 2016 despite Miami's severe lack of depth at the position. However, dating back to his days at Gulliver Prep, he's very gifted. He runs extremely well and is a real playmaker on the perimeter. It's unclear as to why he was unable to see the field this season but the upside has always been there. If the Canes are able to land Thomas and/or Smith, there will be plenty of competition for that No. 2 spot but Mullins is my pick to end up being the best of this bunch.


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