The new quarterback is usually the ones fans gush over.
For the University of Miami, last season it was newcomer N’Kosi Perry.
This season it’s true freshman Jarren Williams.
Williams, a 6-2, 210-pound former consensus four-star prospect considered one of the best and brightest new signal callers to enter college football, will play in at least four games this season because of a recent NCAA redshirt rule that allows true freshmen to get four games of experience without sacrificing their redshirt year.
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Redshirt freshman Perry and redshirt freshman Cade Weldon weren’t afforded that luxury last season. So they still haven’t played in a college football game. But they will this season, all but assured UM coach Mark Richt on Wednesday.
Richt said redshirt senior and incumbent starter Malik Rosier will almost definitely get the nod for the Sept. 2 opener against LSU, but that Williams will be seeing the field when Richt is secure that his presence won’t jeopardize a victory. That goes for any true freshman that will be allowed to play those four games, and still count the season as a redshirt one, Richt said.
In college football, players have five seasons of eligibility to play in four of them, though now the new rule gives them a head start.
“Just imagine if this rule was in place a year ago,’’ Richt told UM beat writers from South Florida on Wednesday before he addressed the print media at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff. “Could have played ‘N’Kosi, could have played Weldon, up to four games, and who knows what we would have found out?
“Now those guys are redshirted and it doesn’t really affect them, but it could affect Jarren Williams, being a true freshman— and really all of our true freshmen. I’d love to play them all, at one time or another, if possible. Sometimes the quarterback position could be the hardest one to just throw a guy in there for a few plays. But he’s got a much greater shot of playing this year because of the new rule... And I’m not saying he’s going to redshirt. He may play, period.
“But I think it’s an awesome rule in general. And my goal is for me to play just about everybody we can play, because we know it’s not going to count against their eligibility.’’
Williams, from Lawrenceville (Georgia) Central Gwinnett High, went 9 for 14 for 107 yards and a touchdown in the UM spring game at Hard Rock Stadium, a week before going 2 of 3 for 31 yards in the final scrimmage. He was 6 of 8 for 86 yards and two touchdowns in two series with the second-team offensive unit in the first spring scrimmage.
An Army All-American his senior year in high school, Williams completed 61 percent of his passes during last year and threw for more than 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions.
“I like Jarren,’’ Rich said after spring football ended. “He’s a good student of the game ... He does throw the ball well.’’
The coach said that Williams “put the ball on the money most of the time,’’ even when he was in the wrong place.
But Richt indicated Wednesday that he’ll only play Williams, or others, when the game is not on the line.
“You don’t want to put any player in at any position that could cost you a game. I don’t care who the opponent is. ‘Oh yeah, let’s play these guys.’ That sounds good, but If you put them in there and they’re not ready and they make a mistake and get beat on something or make a play that can define the game, whether you win or lose it, that’s kind of a scary thought. And then the last thing you want to do is hurt a kid’s confidence.
“The goal is to get them in there when they’re prepared to play well enough to not be concerned that it can affect the outcome of a game in a negative way.’’
Richt said he envisions a bowl game being a good one to save for some of the true freshmen, especially with injuries late in the season and the players having had plenty of practice.
“There’s a good chance you want to save one for the very end,’’ he said.