Hurricanes’ Jacolby George emerging as top target despite offensive woes

Hurricanes wide receiver Jacolby George saw Emory Williams’ pass headed straight for him. The only problem was a pair of Florida State defensive backs in the way.

Somehow, the ball got past the defenders and into George’s hands. From there, nothing but open, green grass separated him from the end zone.

“On that play, I just knew Emory was going to put it up, and I just had to fight for it,” George said. “I leaned back into the DB, and he gave me a chance, and I had to make it.”

George’s 85-yard touchdown on that play kept the Hurricanes in the game, though they ultimately lost 27-20 in Tallahassee. George scored two touchdowns in the loss and racked up a career-high 153 receiving yards, earning ACC Wide Receiver of the Week honors. It is the second time this season he has earned that award.

“It means a lot,” George said, “being recognized … It means a lot to me.”

The junior wide receiver is realizing the potential that led to him being rated a four-star prospect coming out of Plantation High. He leads the Hurricanes in receiving yards (707) and touchdown catches (seven) with two games left in the season.

“I love that guy. That guy, he’s developing so much,” Miami coach Mario Cristobal said. “I’ve said it before. I’m going to push him hard because he carries a lot of responsibility. He really is an awesome young man. He’s a guy that sky’s the limit. The more he develops, the more you’re going to see that of him. He’s got great wiggle, he’s got unbelievable balance, body control and he can track the ball.”

George’s first touchdown against the Seminoles also showed off the work he has been putting in on the practice field. He ran a short fade route to the end zone and came down with a well-placed pass from Williams.

“That delayed fade down at the goal line, that’s hours and hours and reps and reps at practice, so it’s great to see that pay off for him and for the quarterback and for the offense,” Cristobal said.

It has not been all smooth sailing for George since he arrived in Coral Gables. After showing some sparks as a freshman, he missed five games in 2022 due to a two-game suspension and a broken thumb. He worked on getting the strength back in his hand this offseason and studied more to prepare for 2023.

“Just working and studying the details of everything, to watching film, just being a better football player,” George said.

The work is paying off. George has a 77.8 offensive grade and a 78.1 receiving grade this season, which ranks fourth in the ACC among receivers with 25 or more targets this season.

“He’s become a really steady player,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. “In games like (the FSU game), man coverage, he’s got wiggle. He sticks his toe in the ground. He’s made a lot of big plays through the course of the year, and that game was one that’s been really on the verge of happening for a little while. We just need more of them. It’s needed every week. That’s the key, just consistency.”