A few Heat notes and some thoughts on UM’s looming quarterback competition amid Brad Kaaya’s departure to the NFL:
• The UM quarterback battle will be genuinely open, with August arrival N’Kosi Perry considered to have the most upside of the group of six contenders and fellow freshman Cade Weldon arriving in January.
But at least initially, nobody will have a better chance than Malik Rosier, who has dramatically changed the staff’s initial impression of him.
Rosier exasperated coaches with turnovers last spring - one UM coach told me he “didn’t value ball possession as much as we would want” in March and April - but Rosier helped his stock with this staff after Mark Richt convinced him to “throw it away” when nothing is there.
That was a sharp contrast to the marching orders of the former staff.
Former offensive coordinator James Coley “said when nothing is there, to make a play,” Rosier said. “You have to adjust the mentality.”
Richt said in August that “Malik has a tendency to want to do something heroic. I keep telling him I don’t need a hero. I need someone to run the system.”
Rosier got the message and the fact he was No. 2 all season speaks for itself, Richt said.
Jack Allison, who redshirted as a freshman this past season, will have a chance to compete but needs to get stronger physically and improve his timing with receivers.
UM likes 6-foot-6 Evan Shirreffs’ arm strength and say he’s the best athlete of the four returning quarterbacks. But his accuracy has been an issue, as were fumbles in a scrimmage last August.
Vinny Testaverde is the least likely to win the job.
Though it would be challenging for Perry to win the job in August, don’t rule it out if Perry impresses and everyone else is average to below average. After all, Kaaya did that in 2014.
Recruiting analyst Larry Blustein said Perry might give UM no choice but to play him immediately.
“I love Perry,” Blustein said. “I’ve seen him a lot. He’s got Lamar Jackson type of ability, and he may have a better arm than Lamar [the Louisville quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy]. He’s very good. Fast, tall, can whip the ball around.”
Rated the No. 82 overall 2017 prospect by Rivals, Perry threw 22 touchdowns and two interceptions this past season and ran for four touchdowns. His yardage numbers weren’t anything special (1682 passing, 132 rushing on 41 carries), but UM believes he has star potential.
Weldon, at Tampa Jefferson, had bigger yardage numbers than Perry (3135 yrds passing; 368 rushing on 96 carries; and 11 rushing touchdowns), but threw fewer TDs (19) than Perry and had more interceptions (11).
Rivals rates Weldon the No. 19 pro-style prospect. He isn’t in ESPN’s top 300, and most consider Perry the better prospect.
“Weldon is not as tall as Jack Allison but mechanically he’s very good and has a big arm,” Blustein said. “Perry is a really athletic kid. Weldon is a pure quarterback.
“Perry is so athletic, in one day, he could have a massive practice and Richt could say, ‘I’m starting him’” next season if Kaaya turns pro.
• The Heat will be short-handed again tonight in Phoenix, with Hassan Whiteside (eye) and Justise Winslow (shoulder) and Josh McRoberts (stress fracture in foot) all back home.
Dion Waiters is listed as a game-time decision but reportedly won’t play.
Goran Dragic (back) is expected to try to play.
James Johnson wasn’t at shootaround because of an illness.
• Though the Heat never expected to be this bad (10-25), a couple players made clear there were no illusions of greatness this year, in the first year post-Dwyane Wade.
“When you look at all the teams that ended up being really good and started over with young players, they all went through this phase, too,” Tyler Johnson said.
“It's disappointing where we're at, but it's not uncommon. You look at what the Thunder did when they first came over from Seattle, they had  wins [in Seattle with Kevin Durant] and then went to  wins, then to  and then went to the Finals. It's a lot of guys in positions they've never been in before, trying to lead a team in the NBA, which is hard enough. We're figuring it out.”
Hassan Whiteside admitted: “I expected this coming in. I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I didn't know what the record was going to be. We lost Chris Bosh. We lost D-Wade. I knew it wasn't going to be an easy season but we're going to get it right. Pat [Riley] is really good at his job. We have a lot of free salary cap in this upcoming summer. I don't know what guys are going to develop this season. James Johnson has exploded on the scene.”
• It’s way too early for NBA mock drafts, because we don’t even know where teams will be drafting. (The lottery will be held in mid-May and the draft in late June).
But ESPN’s Chad Ford today released his second mock draft and slotted teams entirely based on inverse order of record. He has the Heat picking NC State point guard Dennis Smith at No. 5, behind Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, Kansas forward Josh Jackson and Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk.
For my post with lots of Dolphins personnel news and nuggets today, please click here.