University of Miami

UM football names Malik Rosier starting quarterback

The University of Miami has a starting quarterback.

On Tuesday, 11 days before the 2017 home opener, redshirt junior Malik Rosier was named the starter to lead the Hurricanes against Bethune-Cookman — with redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs his backup.

“Malik! Malik! Malik!” the Hurricanes chanted, according to running back Mark Walton, after coach Mark Richt told them the news early in practice. “It was great.’’

Richt said he chose Rosier for his “focus, discipline and accuracy.’’

“He showed up focused every day on his job,’’ Richt said. “He was disciplined in his fundamentals, his footwork, his reads, his passing fundamentals. And he was hitting his target. He did a very good job.”

Rosier, from Mobile, Alabama, has played in 10 games the past two seasons, his lone start now considered one of the most improbable, incredible and controversial victories in college football history: UM’s 30-27 miracle win at Duke on Oct. 31, 2015, which ended with an eight-lateral touchdown with the clock at 0:00.

The 21-year-old will follow UM career passing-yardage record-holder Brad Kaaya, who left after his junior season and is now a backup for the Detroit Lions. He beat out redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs, dual-threat true freshman N’Kosi Perry and true freshman Cade Weldon, who was an early enrollee and competed during the spring.

“Go be great 12! Your turn!” Kaaya tweeted to Rosier.

Senior receiver Braxton Berrios said it was a “relief … just finally knowing’’ who would start. Berrios said Rosier has come a long way since his victory at Duke.

“He has always been athletic,’’ Berrios said. “He has always been pretty smart. He has always known the offense. But when you get flustered. When you get rushed out of the pocket, are you going to make the right decision? In that keen split second, what are you going to do? And from freshman year to now it’s a tremendous difference.

“We’re happy for him. He came out and he had a tremendous camp, and he won it.”

Richt said Rosier stood out above the rest, but not by “an unbelievable amount,’’ although “it was apparent he was having the best camp. There was enough of a difference to feel comfortable that Malik is the guy.’’

The coach indicated the other three took the news with grace.

“Evan is a great competitor,’’ Richt said “Anytime you don’t get what you’re fighting for, it’s tough. I thought he handled it like a champion. He practiced like a champion. That’s the thing that I tell him — you keep competing. You keep playing. Last year, trying to decide who No. 2 was, that thing changed about three times throughout the season.

“We watch everything they do. I loved the competition. They all gave their best. They all did it like gentlemen. I think they all showed they’re capable of running the system and being the starting quarterback here.”

Rosier, 6-1 and 216 pounds, has been the quarterback taking the first snaps since fall camp opened Aug. 1. In two scrimmages the past two weekends, Rosier combined to complete 25 of 39 passes for 441 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.

Rosier, who is athletic and fast and likes to take off and run, played in only three games last season and threw four passes, completing two. He ran twice for 65 yards and a touchdown.

His previous knock is that he sometimes freelanced and didn’t do exactly what Richt wanted. But that apparently has changed dramatically.

“I like the way his game developed from last year,’’ Walton said. “He’s more calm in the pocket now, and he also can run and make it complex for the defense.

“It makes it easier for me, too.”

In 2015, Rosier played in eight games, going 29 of 57 for 338 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

His numbers on the road in his start against Duke, when Kaaya had a concussion: 20 of 29 for 272 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

And his career numbers: 31 of 61 for 370 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Rosier was a two-sport athlete his freshman year, playing baseball and football, the sport in which he received his scholarship. He quit baseball to concentrate on football in 2016.

Richt made it a point last week to tell the media that if he feels the competition is very close, he might play more than one quarterback early in the season to help determine who he thinks is more capable.

On Tuesday, he indicated he was secure about his choice but that wouldn’t preclude him from giving another quarterback a chance to play occasionally.

Highly rated dual-threat freshman Perry will likely have some designed packages for certain games.

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