Mark Richt, pleased and seemingly confident about his selection of redshirt junior Malik Rosier as the University of Miami’s new starting quarterback, reeled off three words Tuesday when asked why he chose Rosier.
“Focus, discipline and accuracy,’’ Richt said.
Richt said Rosier “showed up focused every day’’ at practice. “He was disciplined in his fundamentals, his footwork, his reads, his passing fundamentals. And he was hitting his target. He did a very good job.”
Later in the interview, Richt was asked about his own experience about learning he was the backup quarterback to Jim Kelly when Richt played at UM in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Turns out he was a little steamed, upset, whatever the word — and he left the Hurricanes. Kelly, of course, later was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of the sport’s all-time greats.
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“It wasn’t really that big of a competition,’’ Richt said. “Jim [Kelly], I always used to call him ‘Lucky Jim,’ because the guy was lucky. I can probably truthfully say he was better than I was.
“My mom still will not admit that. It’s not easy being number two. There was a moment where I was like, ‘I’m leaving.’ I left the team for like a week. I didn’t like how it felt. I felt like a quitter, and I didn’t want to be a quitter. I groveled and went back to Coach Schnellenberger and asked him if I could come back on the team.
“When I said I was leaving, it was after spring or the spring game, and he said, ‘If you change your mind, let me know.’ He did open the door for me. Within a few days, I was like, ‘This doesn’t feel right. I love this place. I love my teammates. I’m not leaving.’ Did I play a lot of ball here? No. But God blessed my decision to stick it out and try to do what was in the best interest of the team.”
When asked about the competition between him and Kelly being made more public, Richt, said, “I don’t even remember what was happening. I’m sure that was part of the method to [Schnellenberger’s] madness. He would be kind enough to say I’d probably start on 50 percent of the other teams in America. He would make grand statements like that until I threw a pick-six here and there. It was a great experience for me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
UM fans likely are wondering if Richt’s selection of Rosier would have a similar effect on any of the backups: No. 2 Evan Shirreffs, a redshirt sophomore; and true freshman N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon. Richt was asked as much.
“I don’t know,’’ Richt replied. “Everybody has to make choices in life. But I’d be shocked if Evan did that, or any of them. I’d be shocked. They all know they’re learning, they all know they’re growing, they all know they’re getting better. They understand there’s competition everywhere you go.
“You can go somewhere for greener grass, well guess what? They got a bunch of dudes there too. They know the system. You’re going to be behind the 8-ball if you go somewhere else. I’d be very surprised.”