The week leading into the Capital One Orange Bowl, University of Miami senior receiver Braxton Berrios said soon-to-be redshirt freshman quarterback N’Kosi Perry has “by far” the strongest arm on the team.
On Thursday, Berrios, now training for the NFL Draft, was his usual outspoken, candid self in an in-studio interview with 560 WQAM hosts Joe Rose and Zach Krantz.
“How does this quarterback thing play out?” Berrios was asked by Rose, regarding a scenario this spring that will include former starter Malik Rosier, a soon-to-be redshirt senior who lost his last three games in a 10-3 season; Perry, whom fans have been eagerly awaiting; soon-to-be-redshirt freshman Cade Weldon; and just arrived freshman Jarren Williams, a heralded, four-star prospect out of Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Former redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs recently announced he was transferring.
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Rosier’s numbers in 2017, his first full season of starting: 224 of 415 (54 percent) for 3,120 yards and 26 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions — including seven interceptions (three in the Orange Bowl) in his last four games and 10 in his last six.
Rosier, a strong runner, added 468 yards and five touchdowns rushing.
“Open it up,” said Berrios, who led the Hurricanes with 55 catches for 679 yards and nine touchdowns. “A lot of times as fans you always think the grass is greener. That’s just a normal thing to think. Something I’ve seen that’s definitely been a trend with Miami fans the last four years is, ‘The new guy is always best.’ It’s not always true by any stretch of the imagination.
“Coach Richt is going to open it up. There’s no doubt about it. He loves competition. … And everybody is going to have a chance to beat [Rosier].
“I just don’t see anybody beating out Malik.
“Think about the season. Think about how many close games where we needed a game-winning drive. I mean we forget that. Now, yes, he might have tailed off towards the end. Again, he lost three of his offensive weapons as well. That’s a little bit tougher when everybody can put two spotters and take care of everybody with a man free in the back, and then rush four and sometimes get to the quarterback and sometimes not. Everybody forgets what happened, how we got there.
“I think that’s tremendously unfair to really forget the rest of the season and just think about the last three games. A lot went wrong with those last three games. He didn’t play his best football, but that’s football, that’s understandable. We’ll move past it. The grass is not always greener.”
Said Rose of Rosier: “He got that experience and boy, that says a lot. He has got to go into spring and say ‘Hey, man. I won 10 games last year. I don’t care what happened at the end.’ ”
“Exactly,’’ Berrios said. “That’s what he has to focus on, that’s what he has to build upon. It’s hard. You can’t get that experience anywhere else. You can’t. Try to simulate it in a practice. That experience is true live ball. I don’t see anybody beating him out.’’
When Berrios spoke of Perry in December, he said, “His arm by far is the strongest on the team. It whizzes when it goes by you. Sometimes he’s got to learn, if it’s a 4-yard under route, say, maybe take a little bit off of that for some guys. But again, he has a strong arm and he’ll learn how to use it. But strong arm, and he’s getting a lot better with the offense.
“It’s hard to expect a guy coming in the summer to just pick everything up and run with it. But next year, the year after, I don’t see absolutely any problems with it.’’
On his Super Bowl pick: “The problem is if I’m a betting man, you can’t bet against Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.”
On what if it’s 20-10 at the end of the third quarter of the Super Bowl: “It doesn’t matter. You’ve done it so many times. You know how to win.” The New England Patriots, he said, have “done it better than anybody.’’
Speaking of the New England Patriots, UM fans are constantly comparing Berrios to former Patriots star slot receiver Wes Welker, who was traded by the Dolphins to the Pats in March 2007 and played for New England from 2007 through 2012. Welker stands 5-9 and weighs about 185.
Berrios, who was measured at 5-8 and weighed 187 on Jan. 23 in Mobile during Senior Bowl week, wants to forge his own path.
“Obviously, they try to fit me into that slot mold, which I do like. But I’ve also played outside. My point is, for Wes Welker that was him. For Braxton Berrios, that’s not me. It’s not really trying to be the fastest slot out there. It’s just trying to be me out there. I want to put what I know what I can do on clock or on film.”
Does he mind the slot stereotype?
“It doesn’t really matter for the most part,’’ Berrios said. “Sometimes you do get pigeonholed as a slot receiver and nothing else and that is hard to work out of. So I always say wide receiver. Obviously in college, especially this last year, I played primarily in the slot. But I did line up at boundary, I did line up outside at Z, so I’ve done other things. ... I want them to understand I do have those tools in my pockets too. ...
“You look at me, you watch my film, naturally I am a slot. But there’s nothing to say I can’t go play outside at some point in time.”
Would Berrios be happy about running in the low 4.5s at the NFL Scouting Combine?
“No, I wouldn’t be happy,’’ he told Rose. “I wouldn’t walk out saying, ‘I did a good job there.’ ’’