Several veteran Hurricanes not shrinking against portal competition. And Mario musings

Al Diaz/

More than a dozen returning Canes players have lost playing time to veteran transfer additions.

But rather than running from the competition, several of those Canes have seemingly embraced it - and are contributing.

Don Chaney Jr. didn’t go running off when Miami brought in Nebraska’s Ajay Allen and added highly-regarded freshmen Mark Fletcher and Chris Johnson.

And Chaney, who has had tough injury luck throughout his career, is off to a good start: 18 carries for 122 yards (6.8 per carry). Allen has 26 carries and is averaging 5.3 per run.

“He’s done a really good job of continuing to just get better,” Mario Cristobal said of Chaney. “Getting in better conditioning, has dropped weight, and when he’s had the ball in his hands he’s run hard.”

At defensive tackle, Jared Harrison-Hunte lost his starting battle against Branson Deen but played well in Deen’s absence last week, and defensive coordinator Lance Guidry made a point to praise Harrison-Hunte this week.

“Thank God we’ve got him right now,” Guidry said. “He’s a good pass rusher, very twitchy. He’s practicing harder, which is good, getting more reps. I think this next game and going forward he’ll be getting better and better and better. I’m excited about him.”

At linebacker, Wesley Bissainthe has had some good moments early - including a sack and two tackles for loss - after losing his starting job to Louisville transfer K.J. Cloyd.

“Wesley is making bigger plays, K.J. is grading out higher,” Guidry said.

What has Floyd’s presence done to Bissainthe? “It pushes me to get better,” Bissainthe said this week. “We make each other better.”

At defensive end, Jahfari Harvey has played well (including a sack) after losing his starting job to Nyjalik Kelly.

And at linebacker, Corey Flagg. Jr.- who has always maximized his ability at UM - is contributing even after Washington State transfer Francisco Mauigoa replaced him as the starting middle linebacker.

“Coaches here emphasize competition,” Flagg said. “It only gets you better if you face it head on. That’s how I was raised.”

Some Canes veterans held off transfer additions and are starting, including Jacolby George and Colbie Young staving off Tyler Harrell at wide receiver; Henry Parrish Jr. beating out Allen to start at running back; and Daryl Porter Jr. and Te’Cory Couch holding off Jadais Richard, Demetrius Freeney and others at cornerback.

“I’m proud of [emerging in the competition],” Couch said of himself and Porter. “But we haven’t done anything” yet.

Porter, who has allowed only two of the seven passes thrown against him to be caught, said: “Personally I think I’m playing very well. I’ve been very confident in my game, comfortable watching film, knowing what to do. Coach Guidry knows what I can do to be successful in this defense.”

When asked about Porter’s improvement, Cristobal cited Guidry’s system: “Systematically this is more conducive to playing faster, helping with eye discipline. It allows guys to see a little so they can see a lot. It really hones in on where your help is.”


On his weekly WQAM radio show with Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr., Cristobal said left guard Javion Cohen has been “a tremendous blessing”; said he told center Matt Lee that he’s a “complete animal”; and said right guard Anez Cooper is “playing as good as anyone on our football team. All he has done is gotten better and better.”

Cooper, a sophomore, has dropped from 400 pounds to 350 since arriving at UM.

Cristobal said of Tyler Van Dyke’s body: “Look how he’s leaned out. He’s increased his mobility, pocket presence, really good with his feet and body control. He’s hitting some numbers on the GPS that we’re like, ‘OK, this is impressive stuff.’ He presents a problem with the way he’s running.”

▪ Pennsylvania-based guard Jalil Bethea, ESPN’s No. 7 prospect in the 2024 class, is the highest-ranked Miami recruiting commitment since the ESPN recruiting database began in 2007 and the program’s highest-ranked recruit since at least 1985, when McDonald’s All American Tito Horford picked the Hurricanes.

The last five-star who committed to UM was Lonnie Walker (No. 13 in the class of 2017), per ESPN.

Another UM committment, Austin Swartz, is rated 51st overall by ESPN in the 2024 class.