Miami Hurricanes lose starting running back Cam’Ron Harris to season-ending injury

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The Miami Hurricanes have lost another major player to injury.

University of Miami starting running back Cam’Ron Harris, a fourth-year junior out of Miami Carol City High, is out for the rest of the season, UM coach Manny Diaz told WQAM radio Monday morning before expounding on the situation to reporters later.

“Cam has a [right]-knee injury that will require surgery,’’ Diaz said, adding that doctors “will try to schedule the surgery next week to let some of the swelling die down.’’

Harris was injured at 14:49 of the third quarter after a 22-yard-run Saturday in UM’s 45-42 loss at North Carolina. He was unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off the field. UM (2-4, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) announced during the game that he was out with a “lower extremity” injury.

“Cam had been one of the guys who had really stepped up as a leader, had been named captain in the two weeks since the Virginia game,’’ Diaz told WQAM, “and just another tough blow to the team — not just because who he was as a player but because who he was as a person.

“It’ll [now] be up to [Jaylan] Knighton, Cody Brown and Thad Franklin, just sort of what we’ve been doing this year. You’ve got to be the next man up.’’

Harris 35th in FBS

Harris, 5-10 and 210 pounds, had played in all six games this season, gaining 409 yards on 71 carries for a 5.76-yards-per-carry average — 35th best nationally in the FBS. He leads the Hurricanes with six touchdowns, five of them rushing.

His 2021 receiving stats: 11 catches for 119 yards and a touchdown.

The Hurricanes’ rushing offense is ranked 73rd nationally and 11th in the ACC, averaging 160.3 yards a game.

On Sunday night, Harris posted on Twitter with a praying-hands emoji, “God Has Never Made Not One Mistake. IOweGodEverything!”

Before the season, Harris was added to the popular 2021 “college football Freaks list” compiled by The Athletic college football writer Bruce Feldman for “hitting 23.07 MPH, which is one of the fastest speeds registered by anyone, college or pro, in game action...Harris also squats 525 pounds and benches 365.’’

Harris is the second high-profile tailback to prematurely end his season with injury. Second-year freshman Don Chaney Jr. sustained a major knee injury Sept. 11 against Appalachian State.

Many big injuries

“The injury thing has been extraordinary, but our guys don’t flinch and they keep going on,’’ Diaz said, noting how UM first and foremost previously lost its top player and team leader D’Eriq King, the nationally heralded quarterback who injured his shoulder Sept. 18 against Michigan State. King underwent shoulder surgery this past week and was announced out for the rest of the season last Monday.

The Canes also lost second-year freshman quarterback Jake Garcia to left ankle surgery. Garcia was injured Sept. 25 against Central Connecticut State and might return in November at the earliest. Also out for the season with injuries are former starting center Corey Gaynor, starting guard Jalen Rivers and fellow offensive lineman John Campbell Jr.

With two touchdowns against Virginia on Oct. 9, Harris moved into 10th place all time in career Miami rushing touchdowns, with 22.

Harris’ career rushing stats in 3 1/2 seasons: 1,794 yards and 22 touchdowns on 339 carries, a 5.29-yards-per-carry average.

His career receiving stats: 48 catches for 393 yards and four touchdowns.

Knighton steps up

Second-year freshman Knighton, who was suspended the first four games of this season, will be the new starting tailback. He has 136 rushing yards on 32 carries in the past two games (4.3-yard average), with two rushing touchdowns. On Saturday at UNC, he added 73 yards receiving and a 60-yard receiving touchdown that brought UM to within four points of the Tar Heels late in the third quarter.

“One thing I know about my teammates is we’ll never give up on a mission,’’ Knighton said after Saturday’s loss. “The first half, we started off a little slow, but we know that us sticking together is going to come out strong together at the end. It didn’t end in the result we wanted, but the main focus is sticking together as a team and moving onto the next [game].’’

The Hurricanes next play No. 18 North Carolina State (5-1, 2-0) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.

Knighton, out of Deerfield Beach High, played in nine games last season, rushing for 209 yards and a touchdown and averaging 4 yards a carry on 52 attempts. He led all UM running backs last season with 135 receiving yards and a touchdown on 11 catches.

Knighton’s reason for suspension was not divulged by UM, though a source previously told the Miami Herald his suspension stems from a legal incident.

Backup freshman Brown, 5-11 and 212 pounds, has played in every game this season, with 16 attempts for 80 yards and three touchdowns.

And 6-0, 230-pound backup freshman Franklin, out of Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna, played only against Central Connecticut State this season, gaining 88 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

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Receivers Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins, both fourth-year juniors out of Miami Southridge High, have been removed from the depth chart and roster because they plan to enter the transfer portal. “They’re both not officially in the portal yet,’’ Diaz said Monday, “but that’s probably what we would expect to happen.’’

Safety Avantae Williams, who was suspended the first six games because of legal issues and missed all of fall camp and the first two weeks of in-season practice, will get some playing time vs. NC State, Diaz said.

Linebacker Sam Brooks, listed as having four tackles in two games played, is still “in the mix’’ for playing time, inside linebackers coach Jon Patke said Monday. Brooks had offseason toe surgery. “Obviously, going through camp injured set him back a little. We know he’s a guy that can play.”

UM’s Oct. 30 game at Pittsburgh will kick off at noon and be telecast by ACC Network.

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