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Transfer Portal U is working out for the Miami Hurricanes (so far)

Thanks to transfers at quarterback, tackle, kicker, defensive end and safety, The U has become Transfer Portal U.
Miami quarterback D’Eriq King, a grad transfer from Houston, has dazzled at quarterback, thanks in part to an improved offensive line.
Miami quarterback D’Eriq King, a grad transfer from Houston, has dazzled at quarterback, thanks in part to an improved offensive line. [ AL DIAZ | adiaz@miamiherald.com ]
Published Sep. 26, 2020

MIAMI — Although the turnover chain has been the defining emblem of Manny Diaz’s time at Miami, it’s not the right symbol to represent his No. 12 Hurricanes.

This year, the U is all about the transfer portal.

D’Eriq King (grad transfer from Houston) has dazzled at quarterback, thanks in part to an improved offensive line that includes right tackle Jarrid Williams (also a grad transfer from Houston). The pass rush has been solid thanks to Jaelan Phillips (UCLA) and Quincy Roche (Temple), and safety Bubba Bolden (UCLA) has been the top player in the secondary.

And those weren’t even the biggest upgrades. That’s at kicker, where Jose Borregales has gone from upsetting the Hurricanes for Florida International to helping them light up the scoreboard at Hard Rock Stadium.

Related: Miami Hurricanes add D’Eriq King, Quincy Roche to remain portal kings. Will it work this time?

“That might be one of the best offseason acquisitions for the University of Miami in quite some time, to get that kicker,” ESPN analyst Desmond Howard said.

If that sounds hyperbolic, it isn’t. Borregales nailed a 57-yard field goal at Louisville and proves the way Diaz’s reliance on the transfer portal has paid off (so far).

UM's kicker Jose Borregales (30) wears a mask on the sideline as the University of Miami hosts the UAB Blazers at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 10.
UM's kicker Jose Borregales (30) wears a mask on the sideline as the University of Miami hosts the UAB Blazers at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 10. [ AL DIAZ | Miami Herald ]

Before Diaz took over in late December 2018, he had been the Hurricanes' defensive coordinator. That meant he knew firsthand how much of a talent infusion Miami needed to get back to national relevance.

And because he took over so late in the recruiting process, the traditional way to fix that problem (high school prospects) wasn’t his best option. Instead, he went to the portal.

Some moves failed. Former Ohio State blue-chip quarterback Tate Martell was a bust who isn’t even with the 'Canes anymore.

But Miami would not have entered Saturday night’s game against Florida State with a 2-0 record without the portal.

Related: Who is Chris Thomsen, Florida State’s acting head coach against No. 12 Miami?

“The early returns, I think, are very promising,” ESPN’s Rece Davis said. “It’s probably not the way he wants to build the core of his team for years to come, but this was an important year for them. I think that they really made some wise moves and landed some really good players to help them out with that.”

King has lived up to the hype, helping Miami pound the ground against Alabama Birmingham, then throwing for 325 yards at Louisville. Bolden’s 13 tackles are tied for the team lead. Roche and Phillips combined for five tackles for a loss through two weeks, and Borregales has been perfect.

“It seems that Manny’s not only found talented guys to fill holes and to be difference makers, but they also have found the right kind of guys who want to win and be part of a team culture,” Davis said.

Related: Is Miami finally back? The case for and against UM, heading into the Florida State matchup

Diaz’s approach is, to some degree, a contrast from the one Mike Norvell has employed at Florida State. The Seminoles had glaring weaknesses, especially at quarterback and along the offensive line. They added a key tackle (Devontay Love-Taylor from Florida International) but didn’t address quarterback through the portal. Considering how James Blackman played in the opener, it’s fair to wonder whether FSU regrets the decision.

Especially with how Transfer Portal U has been looking for Diaz.

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