Cager finds redemption in Orange Bowl and talks LSU opener, Richards recovery

Cager finds redemption in Orange Bowl and talks LSU opener, Richards recovery

Stefan Adams
Hanging out at the Opening Miami Regional was a homecoming of sorts for Miami Hurricanes WR Lawrence Cager. As a class of 2015 guy, Cager participated in the Opening camps during the 2014 offseason, and actually earned an invite to the Opening Finals in Oregon. So, Cager was invited to the Miami Regional 2 weekends ago as an alum and, although it was a bit of a different experience watching on from the sidelines, he enjoyed being around the younger guys nonetheless.

“A couple guys (impressed me), the one kid from Aquinas, he won the receiver MVP (Marcus Rosemy),” Cager said. “A couple guys that stood out, but overall it was a very good camp.”

The 2017 season was a relief of sorts for Cager. He was coming off a torn ACL injury suffered in the 2016 off-season, missing the entire 2016 season, and after sitting out for so long, was raring to get back on the field and prove he could still play at a high level. Despite a few hiccups along the way, Cager was able to do just that.

“It went better than what everybody expected,” Cager said. “Had a little setback, got injured mid-season, but came back strong. I’m just optimistic for next season and ready to go.”

The highlight of Cager’s season? That was none other than the final game of the year, the Orange Bowl against Wisconsin. Saving his best for last, Cager hauled in 4 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in which he changed up his route on a broken play and was all alone to make the score. So, coming off a career-best game, he hopes to use that momentum to springboard himself into 2018.

“Of course, that’s what I feel like I can do every time (play like the Wisconsin game),” Cager said. “All the coaches know that, they were just waiting for the right moment. With all the guys coming back, me coming back, Ahmmon (Richards), and Jeff (Thomas), we’re ready to go.”

Like Cager last season, in 2018, the Hurricanes will have another of their big-time WR’s trying to come back from a season-ending knee injury. Richards suffered a meniscus injury late in the season during practice before the ACC Championship against Clemson, missing both that game and the Orange Bowl, and underwent surgery to repair the damage in his knee. Cager updated his progress a bit.

“Yeah he’s feeling good, getting healthy right now, getting his leg stronger,” Cager said on Richards. “He’ll be ready for the season and we’re gonna be good.”

When asked if the Miami receiver group would be a strength this season, Cager didn’t hesitate.

“We’re the best receiving corps in the ACC,” Cager said. “At least, that’s our goal.”

The Canes had a huge 2017 in which they rose in the polls to be considered the #2 team in the nation at one point, were the talk of the college football world for weeks at a time, and even experienced a few firsts: Miami had their first 10 win season in 14 years and went to their first ACC Championship in 2017. But 2018 will be about maintaining that level of performance and building to the next step.

“We had a good season last year and I think we need to build off that,” Cager said. “Ultimately, I think we’ll end up in the college football playoff. We’re just going to take it one opponent at a time, starting with LSU.”

Speaking of LSU, even though the opener against the Tigers is 6 months away, has Cager been peaking ahead at all to what he might see against that LSU defense?

“I’ve been looking at tape (on LSU) since the season ended.”

Less than a month away now, spring practice is slowly creeping upon us, and Cager views the field at Greentree as an opportunity.

“Spring’s always a time to get better as a team, challenge each other, see what the young guys got,” said Cager.

The Canes signed 4 wide receivers in the 2018 class, and 2 are already on campus as early enrollees: Brian Hightower and Daquiris Wiggins. How have the young pass-catchers melded with the existing roster so far?

“They’re looking good,” Cager said. “It’s all love. I don’t know if other schools do it, but we try to bring in the new guys with us, not isolate them and let them figure out things on their own. So, they working hard and they’ll have to work at the same pace as we do. We’re gonna be good.”

Comments (38)

If Cager ever figures out how to use his size he will be a nightmare on the outside. That catch in the Notre Dame game (below) is what he's supposed to look like. I truly hope he steps up in 2018 like I thought he would each of the last two years.
I know some wrote the kid off mid-season after a couple bad games, hope he can build off that orange bowl game and be the big chain mover we need.
Glad he appeared confident late in the season. I think his poor FSU game was a wake up call for him. Either step up or get left behind.
Small typo: " Miami had their first 10 win season in 14 years and went to their first ACC Championship in 2017" Instead of ACC Coastal Title

Great article otherwise, thanks again.
If Cager ever figures out how to use his size he will be a nightmare on the outside. That catch in the Notre Dame game (below) is what he's supposed to look like. I truly hope he steps up in 2018 like I thought he would each of the last two years.

He uses his height well, but more often than not, Rosier didn't get to him in the right spots. Too many throws below his knees.

Need a QB that understands his weapons better, whether that be a new and improved Rosier, or someone else on the roster
If Richards, Cager and Thomas are all 100% come fall, this WR corps will be nasty. Now if we can get consistently good QB play..........
Pope and Thomas in the slot with Cage and AR on the edges.........................woooooooo! :rickflair2:
Honestly, if Cager can play like he did in the bowl game, this WR unit, which will likely be great even if Cager isn't at that level, can truly be elite. Richards is an absolute game changer - an all around elite player, a guy that can do everything as a WR and can change a game in one play, and someone who obviously demands a lot of attention of the other team. With Thomas, Harley and Pope as potential guys in the slot, we have 3 guys with the ability to carve up teams in the middle of the field and also the ability to take the top off the defense.

Having a big WR with the athleticism of Cager gives our QB someone who can make tough contested catches and act as a really good target in the red zone. While Langham is a big WR and obviously made some huge catches, Cager's athleticism makes him even more dangerous...if he plays aggressively, blocks like Dugans demands of his WRs, and plays like he did in the bowl game. If he does that, it makes it near impossible for other teams to match up against our WRs. Now, we just need our QB to get these guys the ball consistently...
When they were quick to quit on him, people seemed to forget Big Larry was coming off ACL reconstruction last year and was feeling his way. You saw a glimpse of what’s to come during the last several games of the season.

P.S. Quit nitpicking every article that comes out acting like some old bat with bifocals.
Got my plane tickets booked to Dallas for the LSU game. Sounds like the canes are already looking at it as a statement game. Pumped

We need to kick their asses as payback for the Peach Bowl $hitshow. That game was when I knew our program was in trouble.
What's the typo? They did go to their first ACC Championship...

Thanks for reading!

Well technically something that happens for the first time in x amount of years isn't a "first" but that's just ball busting at this point.

Thanks for the piece Stef!

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