Mike Harley had a career unlike any other and now he’ll go down in Miami Hurricanes history after catching more passes than anyone else in the history of the program.
With his fifth catch in the first quarter Saturday against the Duke Blue Devils, Harley passed Reggie Wayne for the most career catches in Miami history. Across his five seasons in South Florida, Harley went from a seldom-used freshman in 2017 to an unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver last year and now he’s a key cog in a record-setting offense for the Hurricanes.
“It’s a blessing. I’m not here by mistake. I guess that was my purpose to be at this university as the receptions leader,” Harley said. “Just showing young guys — that’s my testimony. I pray I’ll be inspiration to younger guys that come into this program.”
The senior’s fifth catch Saturday was the 174th of his career and the 49th of his fifth season at Miami. Harley, who was an All-American at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale before joining the Hurricanes, also moved up to seventh on Miami’s all-time career receiving yards list with 2,158 and is tied for ninth in touchdown catches with 15. He finished with 13 catches Saturday to set the program’s single-game record, too.
Harley had six catches for 30 yards on the first two drives Saturday, setting the record when he caught a swing pass on third-and-6 to gain 9 and pick up a first down. He caught another swing pass in the fourth quarter to set the single-game record and finished with 13 for 96 yards.
Wayne set the previous career record with 173 from 1997-2000. Willie Smith, Phillip Dorsett and Charleston Rambo all previously held the single-game record with 12.
Harley emerged as a threat for the career catches record in the second half of last season. Harley caught just nine passes as a freshman, 21 as a sophomore and 38 as a junior before getting to play in a rejuvenated offense last year, and breaking out with 57 catches for 799 yards, including 40 for 625 in the final six games. His 57 receptions were tied for ninth most in a single season in school history and gave him 125 in his career — already the ninth most on the Hurricanes’ all-time list — and he got an extra season of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He decided to return for one more season and kept chasing the record, even though Rambo usurped as Miami’s No. 1 option.
“Rambo came in and he’s been dominating. I’m so happy for him. He deserves it, just knowing what he’s been through,” Harley said Tuesday in Coral Gables. “No selfishness in my blood, no selfishness at all.”
The chase came down to the wire, as Harley caught three or four balls in six of the first 11 games. A six-catch game against the Florida State Seminoles on Nov. 13 put him on pace to break the record in the regular season and he set the mark Saturday in Durham, North Carolina.