University of Miami

UM two-sport athlete Malik Rosier determined to make both work

University of Miami outfielder Malik Rosier is shown during a game against Rutgers, Feb. 15, 2015.
University of Miami outfielder Malik Rosier is shown during a game against Rutgers, Feb. 15, 2015. FOR THE HERALD

That baseball Malik Rosier boomed over the left-field fence Sunday against Rutgers and rustles around in his University of Miami book bag might need to scurry over a bit should he throw his first college touchdown.

Or maybe he’ll just have to buy a bigger book bag.

Either way, Rosier, one unfortunate hit to Brad Kaaya from becoming the Miami Hurricanes’ No. 1 quarterback and a different sort of hit from boosting his .500 batting average in baseball, is a young man who knows what he wants.

Football and baseball.

Or, this spring, baseball and football.

As the Hurricanes open their first weekend of spring football Saturday in Coral Gables, Rosier-the-outfielder will be in Gainesville for a three-game series against the No. 6 Florida Gators.

Rosier-the-quarterback will return in time for Tuesday’s football practice — then grab some lunch and head to baseball.

“It’s tough,’’ said UM baseball coach Jim Morris of the bustling life of the soon-to-be redshirt freshman in football and current true freshman in baseball. “You’ve got to be an extraordinary athlete to be able to play both sports at the level we want him to play, and the level that he wants to play.’’

Rosier, 19, is from Mobile, where he grew up a Miami fan and starred in both sports at Faith Academy. In football he threw for 1,852 yards and 16 touchdowns and ran for 1,301 yards and 17 touchdowns his senior season in a zone-read spread offense. In baseball he hit .424 as a junior catcher and was a Class 5A All-State outfielder as a senior.

Rosier goes into UM spring football as Kaaya’s projected backup, with junior Gray Crow and transfer Vincent Testaverde also battling for playing time.

And though Rosier attends Miami on a football scholarship, baseball comes first in the spring. Going into Friday night’s game at UF, the reserve center fielder had two hits in four at-bats for No. 8 UM, with a single and the three-run homer.

“I always want that first home-run ball to stay with me,’’ he explained of his book-bag souvenir. “When I first hit it, I thought it was a deep fly ball and was mad. As I rounded the bases I saw the left fielder jump in the air and was like, ‘What? He’s jumping? Did I actually just do that?’

“What a great feeling.”

By 5 p.m. Tuesday, after back-to-back baseball and football practices, the exhilaration turned into exhaustion.

Rosier’s schedule that day: 6 to 7 a.m., baseball weight-lifting; 7-7:55 a.m., breakfast; 8 to 8:45 a.m., football meetings; 9 to 11:45 a.m., football practice; lunch; then 1 to 5 p.m., baseball.

His classes are Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“It was more of the sun that was getting to me,’’ Rosier said. “My body, especially with being out in the sun that long and football drills and a lot of reps with the 1s and 2s ... I’ve got to learn to tell the coaches, ‘Hey, I need to take a step back, because I’m doing both.’ ’’

To alleviate overuse in his arm, Rosier expects to do more mental reps than physical ones in spring football. He won’t play baseball in the summer.

“When Brad goes with the 1s, I might stand behind him and go through the same reads. The physical reps will come in the summer.’’

The last UM quarterback to also play baseball was pitcher T.J. Prunty, who quit football after his redshirt freshman season in 2000. He was drafted in the 21st round in 2000 by the Minnesota Twins but never made it to the majors.

Canes junior infielder David Thompson also was a quarterback at UM but had to quit in June 2013 after undergoing his second shoulder surgery in a one-year span.

“The reason I tore my labrum is overuse in both sports, is what the doc said,’’ Thompson said. “But Malik is doing a great job.’’

Rosier will practice with football and baseball as long as there’s not a baseball road series. He gets his quarterback scripts emailed to him by coaches.

“He’s a good football player,’’ Kaaya, who played baseball and football in ninth and 10th grades, said of Rosier. “It was hard for me throwing a football in the morning and baseball in the afternoon. But we’re all built differently.’’

Rosier, who said he loves “the mental side of hitting’’ in baseball and “breaking down a defense’’ in football, refuses to be boxed into choosing one sport.

“That will be the hardest day I face,’’ he conceded. “I’ll think about that day once it gets here.”

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