Year one in the Mario Cristobal era did not go as planned for the Miami Hurricanes. They finished the season with a 5-7 record and missed bowl season.
With new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson bringing the air raid offense, the Hurricanes could be poised for a bounce-back season. Miami’s top 10 returning players are indicative of that.
Miami Hurricanes Top 10 Returners in 2023
Analyzing the returning players at every school is a difficult task in the transfer portal area. As such, we’ve included transfer-portal athletes that were included on each team’s roster page to open fall camp in addition to the rostered players from last year.
1) Kamren Kinchens, DB
An easy choice for the best-returning player on the Miami Hurricanes in 2023, Kamren Kinchens is everything to a defense looking to improve its 2022 performance, ranking 64th in total defense. Kinchens finished last season with 59 tackles, 12 pass deflections, six interceptions, 1.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble.
He was named to our Preseason First-Team All-American based on his performance last season and is projected as a first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
Kinchens is the heartbeat of this defense, doing everything from coverage to coming up in run defense. If the junior safety can have an equivalent season to last year, he would most likely solidify his spot in the NFL in 2024 and even help Miami compete for an ACC title in the process.
2) Javion Cohen, OL
Miami got a big pickup in the transfer portal this offseason landing a marquee offensive lineman to help protect quarterback Tyler Van Dyke. Former Alabama lineman Javion Cohen joins the Hurricanes after a successful 2022 season ending with a Second-Team All-SEC selection for his performance.
Cohen and UCF transfer center Matt Lee have provided much-needed help on the offensive line for Miami. There are questions on whether Zion Nelson will return at the beginning of the season or later (see below) but Cohen should provide a jolt in run blocking and pass protection.
Miami’s offensive line is a major strength for the Hurricanes program in 2023.
3) Henry Parrish Jr., RB
After a decent two-year run at Ole Miss, running back Henry Parrish Jr. showed flashes of great potential in his first season at Miami in 2022.
Parrish recorded 755 total yards of offense and six total touchdowns for the Hurricanes. He earned Third-Team All-ACC honors last season.
While Parrish may not see the same amount of rushing in the new offense, he will be able to showcase his versatility in the passing game. Miami doesn’t have many veteran receivers on the roster, so it’s likely they ask Parrish to step up and be a playmaker for the Hurricanes.
This should very well end up being the breakout season Parrish is striving for, and he could put up big numbers in 2023.
4) Akheem Mesidor, DE
Former West Virginia defensive end Akheem Mesidor played well in his first season with the ‘Canes in 2023. He recorded 38 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, a team-high seven sacks, four pass breakups, three quarterback hits, and one forced fumble.
As such, Mesidor is on the rise as a pass rusher for Miami and could be in for a massive season. He’s already shown to be a critical player on defense, handling the front end, with Kinchens managing the back end.
With the help of defensive tackle Leonard Taylor III, Mesidor will be pushing for a 10-plus sack season for Miami and working his way to set up a strong senior season in 2024.
5) Zion Nelson, OL
Mixed feelings surround what the Hurricanes have in Zion Nelson heading into the 2023 season. Some are high on Nelson while others don’t even consider him a top-10 player on the team.
Last season, a knee injury in the first game against Texas A&M knocked him out for the rest of the season after a breakout season in 2021.
While there have been reports of Nelson being at practice this summer, it is not known yet when Nelson is expected to return to the starting lineup at left tackle. When he does play, he’s a dominant force and should be a better fit for an offensive line that has improved through the transfer portal with two new additions discussed earlier.
Should he play, Miami could have the potential to possess one of the strongest offensive lines in the ACC.
6) Leonard Taylor III, DT
One of two returning defensive linemen starters for Miami, Leonard Taylor III started nine of the 12 games in 2022, finishing with 24 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, and an interception. Taylor joined his defensive line partner Mesidor as an Honorable-Mention All-ACC selection in 2022.
It was an impressive season for Taylor, playing well with getting to the quarterback, but causing havoc on the line while stopping the run. He was able to jump in and improve his performance throughout the season.
Watch for Taylor to once again impact the Hurricanes’ defensive line, which will only keep getting better.
7) Jalen Rivers, OL
One of the most impressive performances on the Hurricanes in 2022 was redshirt freshman left guard Jalen Rivers. He appeared in nine games and started seven of them at left guard before missing the end of the season with an injury.
The tough part for Rivers is the fact that injuries have been a problem the last two seasons, keeping him out of games.
When he is on the field, he has performed well and handled himself effectively. With new offensive linemen on the team and plenty of player movement, Rivers could be the one consistent presence as long as his durability improves.
8) Andres Borregales, K
Miami has found one of the more accurate kickers in college football with Andres Borregales. Last season, Borregales went 17 of 20 on his field goals while only missing four field goals in 2021. He has yet to miss an extra point in his college career, earning two straight years of Honorable-Mention All-ACC honors.
His accuracy is some of the best among kickers in the country, but something that isn’t showcased as much as his leg strength, with a career-long of 55 yards. Miami would like to see more of that, but now in his junior season, Borregales has a chance to get his name in the Lou Groza Award conversation this year.
9) Tyler Van Dyke, QB
After a strong freshman year, Tyler Van Dyke took a bit of a dip last season, but the big problem with last year was the shoulder injury that hindered him. Van Dyke finished last season throwing for 1,835 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions, completing 63% of his passes.
Miami has a quarterback on the rise but needed more support around Van Dyke to be more successful. The offensive line is revamped, and their running game should improve with Parrish in the backfield.
One massive change that will be an advantage for Van Dyke is the air raid offense that should let him rip it loose. If the receivers exceed expectations, Miami should see their signal-caller set himself up for a career season this year and in 2024 as well.
10) Jahfari Harvey, DE
The Hurricanes’ defensive line has already seen two players on this list, and another pass rusher who should be impactful this season is Jahfari Harvey. He recorded 31 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and one pass deflection last season for Miami.
Harvey has made strides and improvements every season, having a solid year of pressuring the quarterback. Lining up on the opposite side of Mesidor, Harvey should have similar success with a solid defensive line coming in for Miami.
If Miami can get similar production from Harvey, they could be a lot tougher to run against.