University of Miami classes do not begin for another two weeks, but the Hurricanes quarterbacks are already being graded.
Following Saturday’s practice, the first of the fall to include full pads, offensive coordinator James Coley gave some insight into how the coaching staff will pick a starting quarterback.
“We are grading them,” Coley said. “Not only are they getting pluses and minuses, but they are getting points for certain things they do on the field, and they are getting points taken away for certain things they do … and we are searching for who has the highest number of points.”
Graduate transfer Jake Heaps certainly earned some points Saturday with long completions to Malcolm Lewis and Clive Walford.
Afterward, Heaps said advice from his fellow quarterbacks has helped him with the test they are all going through.
“When you are able to sit there and talk with the other quarterbacks about what’s going on and they are not withholding information from you, that makes things a lot easier,” he said.
Cooperation has not excluded competition, though.
“Those guys are competing extremely hard against each other,” Coley said.
On Friday, coach Al Golden said he wanted to see more verbal leadership out of freshman Brad Kaaya. Coley said the freshman answered that call Saturday, but he still was not at Heap’s level.
“Jake takes charge when he goes in there; he’s in command,” Coley said. “He’s got that pilot mentality, and he’s going to fly that plane … and that’s what Brad has to get going as well; he needs to take charge.”
But Coley said he has been impressed with Kaaya overall, noting that he acts more like a senior than a freshman and that he has been “very sharp.”
“As the week has gone on, both [Heaps and Kaaya] have gotten into a groove,” Coley said.
As for the other quarterbacks, Coley said freshman Malik Rosier still needs to grasp the full playbook, but his athleticism is undeniable.
Coley even hinted at using Rosier or another quarterback in certain packages once a starter is chosen.
Redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen has played well with the first and second teams, Coley said, and Ryan Williams has been extremely accurate if only in one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills while he recovers from ACL surgery.
Asked about how he is fitting into the competition, Olsen said, “I can only control what I can control. I think I’m making the reps that I get count.”
Golden reiterated Saturday that he would like to narrow the race down to two quarterbacks after the team’s first scrimmage Wednesday.
A NEW CHICKILLO
Golden also said senior defensive end Anthony Chickillo is a different player from the one he watched a year ago.
“The kid made a commitment back in February, and he really, to be honest with you, hasn’t been the same kid,” Golden said. “Now he has an opportunity — his body has caught up with his experience and his technique.”
Chickillo said he worked to get bigger now that he will be asked to take up more space in a 3-4 defensive front, and he is motivated because this is his final year.
“I changed my attitude towards everything,” he said. “It’s my last year, and I want to make the best of it. “
Chickillo also expressed appreciation for the strength coaches that have helped him. He also said he is looking forward to being in a strong defensive line rotation.
“I’d say this is the deepest we’ve been since I’ve been here as far as D-line numbers and talented guys,” he said.
Freshman wide receiver Darrell Langham, the final player to report to practice, showed up Saturday and practiced without pads to avoid injury as he gets up to speed.
Williams threw with the 6-5 Langham during the practice and spoke about him afterward.
“[He’s a] big target, easy to throw to because he’s so big,” Williams said. “He still looks a little raw … but he looks like he has a high ceiling.”