University of Miami

Miami coordinator Dan Enos says quarterback Tate Martell ‘has a lot of pressure on him’

Miami OC Dan Enos: ‘There will not be a starting quarterback selected until the fall’

After watching the Miami Hurricanes' quarterbacks improve throughout the spring, UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos doesn't plan to choose a starter until the fall. All three are having their moments for the Canes, the quarterbacks coach said.
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After watching the Miami Hurricanes' quarterbacks improve throughout the spring, UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos doesn't plan to choose a starter until the fall. All three are having their moments for the Canes, the quarterbacks coach said.

This spring hasn’t been easy for Miami redshirt sophomore Tate Martell, the former Ohio State quarterback who was the 2016 national Gatorade Player of the Year at perennial state champion Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High.

Martell came to the Canes with massive media attention to accompany fan excitement and expectations, but he has struggled along the way, including in last Saturday’s first open spring scrimmage. Fans watched Martell complete 4 of 11 passes, throw an interception and trip while going back during a play.

On Tuesday, UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos said the quarterback starter will not be decided until preseason camp, and indicated that all three signal callers — Martell, redshirt sophomore N’Kosi Perry and redshirt freshman Jarren Williams — are all still in the race. Enos said Martell had his best day of spring Tuesday, and that he is, indeed, talented, but “has got a lot of pressure on him.’’

“He’s talented,’’ Enos said. “He can run. He’s got good arm talent. We asked him to learn a new system, we asked him to learn new fundamentals and techniques, we asked him to move to a new city. He’s got a lot of pressure on him.

“Let’s be honest. He comes in with all the accolades. So, there’s a lot going on in that young man’s life. And you know what? At the end of the day he’s just a young man, and we’re trying to help him get better every day.

“But there’s a process we all have to go through. Tate is going through the process. We had that talk on Saturday after the scrimmage, him and I. He had a good day today. And hopefully we can continue to build on that. We are asking him to do a lot of those things that are different [that] certainly he is going to grasp and going to get better [at] — especially when he gets more reps.”

UM coach Manny Diaz said all three quarterbacks are improving, but “there’s no way they have enough at-bats where somebody can jump out in front of the pack’’ by Saturday’s spring game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. “What we think will be the key is this building when no one is watching in June and July and when they bring the team in here without coaches and just the repetition of going through these pass concepts and running these plays.’’

Miami Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz said UM would make its quarterback decision once it became obvious. The Canes' starting competition right now is too close to call without enough time left to make a decision in the spring.

Diaz said the Canes will report for training camp the last week of July and “it’ll probably be a week, two weeks and then we’ll have to pick a football team and move on.’’

Added Enos: “These three guys continue to improve. All of them have good days and then one will be ahead and then the other bumps ahead. It’s too close to tell right now. But I will say this: They’re all getting better. It has been really encouraging to watch their pocket demeanor, their fundamentals, their eyes, their feet coming off their reads.

“Like Jarren, for example, Saturday, he did something in the scrimmage that’s a very small thing but it’s something that I showed those guys on tape for about a week and a half. And it translated. He did it exactly [right]. Then I was like, ‘Oh my goodness gracious.’ They all had moments like that and they all have good things...’’

Injury report: UM announced Tuesday that wide receivers Jeff Thomas and Brian Hightower “each had minor arthroscopic surgery on their right knee.’’ No timetable was given for their return.

Hurricanes receiver Mike Harley was back at practice Tuesday after sitting out two practices last week, including the scrimmage Saturday at Traz Powell Stadium. Still out were linebacker Bradley Jennings (hurt in scrimmage), defensive tackle Jon Ford (wrist), center Corey Gaynor (knee was wrapped at scrimmage), tight end Brevin Jordan (knee) and striker/tight end Zach McCloud (wrist).

Outside linebackers/strikers coach Jonathan Patke was working with Romeo Finley, Colvin Alford and Gilbert Frierson at the tackling dummies. “Roadkill,’’ Patke said to the three before their drill.

Navaughn Donaldson joined the Miami Hurricanes as a highly touted tackle from Central. Now the UM offensive lineman has experience at tackle, guard and center after spending the final weeks of spring practice as the Canes' center.

Also returning Tuesday after being absent for the scrimmage was freshman offensive lineman Zion Nelson, who was at a wedding last Saturday, Enos said.

Redshirt freshman Patrick Joyner, who has been listed on the roster as a defensive lineman, practiced with the linebackers Tuesday in the wake of Bradley Jennings’ injury sustained in last Saturday’s scrimmage.

“With Joyner, we recruited him to do both,’’ Diaz said. “That was one of the things that he really liked about his opportunity to come here at Miami. ...Obviously, getting Zach McCloud [back] will be a huge boost in the arm for the linebacker room and he’ll have the ability to play inside linebacker for us this year — probably feature at all three spots, it wouldn’t surprise me. But those are the decisions that we’ll make when we find out who we have. We do have some guys that have some positional flexibility on the team, so, like anything else, you have to find the best way to play them.”

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Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.