Most of the University of Miami student body is on Summer break; but the Hurricanes football team is hard at work, training for next season, doing community outreach, and breaking in the incoming freshman players, many of whom arrived on campus Monday.
Quarterback Malik Rosier, a rising redshirt junior, recalled his first conversation earlier this week with highly-touted freshman quarterback N’Kosi Perry of Ocala, who is in the running to replace Brad Kaaya as starting quarterback.
“It was funny, the first time I met N’Kosi was before the 12-minute run,” Rosier said on Wednesday, after 21 Hurricane players spent two hours visiting and doing drills with students at Carver Elementary School in Coconut Grove. “You could tell the guy was kind of nervous because they saw us coming, drenched in sweat, tired, and they were like, `Are we going to pass?’ And I was like, `Listen, if you have a good mentality and you’re a hard worker, you’ll pass.’ He wound up passing. He seems like a great worker, great guy.”
Rosier said that he and sophomore quarterback Evan Shirreffs were assigned to be mentors to Perry and freshman Cade Weldon by head coach Mark Richt and quarterbacks coach Jon Richt. Rosier was paired with Weldon and Shirreffs with Perry.
The freshman quarterbacks had not participated in any passing drills as of Wednesday.
“We haven’t seen (Perry) throw yet because they were just medically cleared,” Rosier said. “We threw Monday, and we’ll throw on Saturday and see what he has...My mindset now is to lead on the field and in the film room.”
The quarterback race remained wide open after spring camp, but Rosier insists he is not putting added pressure on himself. He is focused on improving his speed and flexibility, doing yoga every Saturday, and getting stretched two to three times a day. He expects whoever plays quarterback to do some running, so he wants to be ready.
“I feel like the more you pressure yourself the less you do,” he said. “You have to be relaxed. At the end of the day, as long as I take care of what I’m going to take care of, I should be fine. The other guys are going to push me and that’s the thing I love...all the quarterbacks we have are good. I have to compete every day.”
In the final spring scrimmage, Rosier went 8-of-18 for 169 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions – including one for a 78-yard touchdown by cornerback Malek Young.
“There were a lot of things I did good, but a lot of things I did bad,” he said. “Malek Young had my number. He’s had my number all spring, literally every pick I had in a scrimmage went to him. We kind of make fun of each other because we’re both number 12, both same first name, maybe we got a connection. There are things I learned about myself and our defense that will help me out in the summer and fall competing against them.”
Rosier said he had a great time with the Carver Elementary students on Wednesday. He urged students to get good grades, and asked a group of first graders what they want to be when they grow up. The answers included chef, soccer player, football player, doctor, Ninja, singer and prosthetic leg maker.
“Miami shows us so much love as football players, so it was nice to give back to the little kids,” Rosier said. The Canes football team won the NCAA Team Works community service competition for its work from January through March. Over the next three weeks, they will do four events with community groups.
Another player delighted to be running around with the kids was wide receiver Lawrence Cager, who missed all last season with a knee injury. “I wish August was tomorrow, I’m ready to get after it,” Cager said. “It feels like four years since I played football. It was my first major injury, so it was tough at times. When I first get in full contact, I’ll probably be a little too eager, but I’m sure the coaches may take it easy on me.”
As for the Carver students he met, Cager said: “Very athletic. Frank Gore came out of this field, so the next Frank Gore may be out there. I couldn’t believe the speed those kids had. I’m from Baltimore and we don’t have that kind of speed up there.”