Two days after the University of Miami football team played its spring game, coach Mark Richt stayed true to his initial feeling immediately after the scrimmage.
The quarterback race is still wide open, with Malik Rosier and Evan Shirreffs as the co-leaders, everybody else trying to catch up – and high-school senior N’Kosi Perry on his way to Coral Gables soon.
The coach told WQAM’s Joe Rose and Curtis Stevenson, on Richt’s weekly radio appearance Monday, that “everybody has got the right to compete’’ for the job that quarterback Brad Kaaya relinquished to enter the NFL Draft. “And that’s what I keep saying. I’m not saying N’Kosi is going to be the guy. But we’re dang sure going to find out what he can do.’’
But would N’Kosi, or any of the UM quarterback contenders for that matter, be ready for Florida State — in Tallahassee — the third game of the season on Sept. 17?
“Whoever we start,’’ Richt told WQAM regarding FSU, “we think is going to be the best guy that gives us the best chance to win. He’s gotta do what he can do. If he’s a younger guy you may not throw the whole playbook at him. If you’ve got a veteran, I think everything we’ve put in to this point we can execute and understand. It’s just a matter of, who do we think is the best guy that gives us a chance to win...”
Perry, listed as 6-4 and 185 pounds, but more like “6-3 or 6-3 ½,’’ Richt said after National Signing Day, will be graduating from Ocala Vanguard High. He is a consensus four-star, dual-threat prospect who threw for 1,778 yards, 24 touchdowns and four interceptions his senior season, according to Max Preps, with another 97 yards and four touchdowns rushing.
Already part of the team and deep in the competition are 6-5 redshirt freshman Jack Allison, who has a strong arm and spent last season learning the offense; and true freshman Cade Weldon, who arrived on campus this spring and has to continue developing and learning. Richt also mentioned walk-on redshirt junior Vincent Testaverde.
“Well, I mean, Cade Weldon may have a great summer and move up,’’ Richt said. “Testaverde might do that. Jack Allison might do that. I mean everybody had the right to compete for a job here at the U at every position. So, yes, [Perry] has got a chance to compete for that job. It’s no different than some of these wide receivers coming in town, too. We’re going to teach them what to do and give them opportunities to win a job and playing time.”
Richt’s quarterback leaders have neither been accurate enough nor avoided the mistakes that would allow Richt to make a clear-cut decision.
“The good news is we’ve got guys that know what they’re doing and they can function in this system,’’ Richt told WQAM. “And if they just clean up a few things with their accuracy here and there and a decision here and there, I think we’ll be fine.
“Evan Shirreffs and Malik Rosier, they’re the two guys that I think are more ready to play than the other guys. The other guys are making improvements… They’re making the typical mistakes that a quarterback makes as he’s learning how to do it… It’s just like if you ride a bike you tend to fall down a few times, then you finally figure it out and you’re up and running. So, there’s a little bit of that going on, but that’s typical when you’re teaching quarterbacks how to play the game.”
▪ Richt also noted that true freshman offensive guard Navaughn Donaldson, out of Miami Central High, already has shaved 26 pounds off his once 380-pound frame. “He’s strong…He’s a smart kid,’’ the coach said of Donaldson, who appears to be a star in the making as he practiced with the first-team from the first week of spring camp.