University of Miami

UM quarterbacks speak, Linder leaves and life goes on at the U

University of Miami redshirt junior quarterback Malik Rosier is battling Evan Shirreffs, N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon in the race to become the starting quarterback.
University of Miami redshirt junior quarterback Malik Rosier is battling Evan Shirreffs, N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon in the race to become the starting quarterback. Al Diaz

Miami freshman quarterback N’Kosi Perry “has a hell of an arm,’’ competitor Malik Rosier said Monday.

Rosier said he’s “having fun’’ in fall camp, but the importance of him winning the starting job is “huge.’’

And fellow competitor Evan Shirreffs indicated whoever becomes the next starter will have “explosive’’ receivers such as Mike Harley and Jeff Thomas to make the transition easier.

Rosier and Shirreffs spoke to the media for the first time this camp on a day it was announced that their center, senior Nick Linder, was leaving the team to eventually transfer.

“Nick is going to sit out this season,’’ Richt said of Linder, who has 26 career starts, including the first nine last season before he injured his shoulder and underwent surgery. “He’s going to go home and train for one semester and then he’s going to transfer somewhere else.

“He graduates in a couple of days.”

When asked why Linder was leaving, Richt told reporters they’d have to ask him.

“When guys leave, it puts pressure on the rest of the team,’’ Richt said. “He’s a really good player and he really knows what he is doing. Certainly I’m disappointed, because I’d rather he be here than not be here.”

Linder has had multiple injuries during his three seasons, all of them with starts at either center or guard. But after Linder was sidelined in the spring, 6-5, 305-pound junior Tyler Gauthier jumped to first-team center. Linder was the sixth player getting first-team reps.

UM football coach Mark Richt discusses departure of center Nick Linder as well as injury news on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

Richt has tread carefully in his effort not to reveal who is leading in the quarterback race, at various times complimenting redshirt junior Rosier, redshirt sophomore Shirreffs and freshmen Perry and Weldon.

“Evan is a machine in how he operates,’’ Richt said Monday, when asked about Shirreffs, who played in one series in last year’s FAMU opener and said he handed off to a running back . “His ball-handling is pristine. He’s going to the right people for the right reasons. He has got energy. He has got leadership. He’s having a good camp. His arm is strong enough. For everybody, it’s a matter of accuracy and consistency at practice. I’m talking about everybody, not just pointing him out.”

On Friday, Richt said that the 6-1, 216-pound Rosier (career 31 of 61 for 370 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions) “has been making excellent decisions and he’s throwing the ball very accurately. He has had a very good camp to this point.’’

The freshmen won’t be made available to the media until Aug. 14.

Rosier said what’s most important now is to “capitalize on what plays they give you.’’

Malik Rosier discusses the quarterback battle on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

“Every day, me, Evan, N’Kosi, and Cade, we’re all going to rep with the [first team],’’ he said. “I mean, everyone’s doing a great job. This defense is really tough. They’re really fast and at certain points, they’ll get us. At certain points, we’ll get them.

“…It’s at the point to where I know what I’m doing. Now I have to perfect every rep.’’

Rosier said his goal for the fall was releasing the ball faster, and more accurately. He said he’s been watching game film constantly.

What does he think of his competitors?

“Evan is smart, man. He puts the ball in play and he really [knows] the offense and the defense.

“N’Kosi is learning. He’s doing a great job out there and he has a hell of an arm. Excuse my language, but that kid can throw it, man. You’ll see him throw a 30-yard ball on the line and just hit a receiver in the face.

“Even Cade, Cade has been throwing great balls, making great plays.”

Shirreffs, 6-5 and 216 pounds, said he has put on 25 pounds since his 2015 UM arrival and has improved his arm strength.

Evan Shirreffs speaks to the media during fall camp on Aug. 7, 2017.

“Doing everything right every play,’’ has been his mantra this camp.

“We’ve got some playmakers around us,’’ Shirreffs said. “There’s no doubt. All the way down to the guys that are taking the third-team reps right now…[Freshman receivers] Jeff Thomas and [Mike] Harley are as explosive as they come.”

▪ Freshman receiver Evidence Njoku, wearing a large metal brace, hyperextended his left knee, Richt said. “He’s day-to-day. No surgery.’’

▪ Sophomore starting weak-side linebacker Michael Pinckney (hamstring) is still out, and being replaced during practice by redshirt junior Darrion Owens.

▪ Sophomore tight end Michael Irvin II (dehydration) is close to returning to practice, Richt said.

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