University of Miami

Manny Diaz update on Miami QB race and what he said specifically about each contender

UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos says quarterbacks have improved

UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos says quarterbacks have improved after Miami Hurricanes spring
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UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos says quarterbacks have improved after Miami Hurricanes spring

When last we saw the three University of Miami quarterbacks contending for the starting job, it was late April and they were slinging the ball at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, the same site where the Hurricanes will face the Florida Gators on Aug. 24 in the season opener.

Redshirt sophomore Tate Martell, the nationally heralded transfer out of Ohio State via perennial champion Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High, looked like a new and improved man after a slow, sometimes cringe-worthy first couple of weeks getting adjusted to the new staff and environment and what was expected.

Redshirt freshman Jarren Williams, another vaunted former high school signal-caller who played at Lawrenceville, Georgia’s Central Gwinnett High and only got into one game last season, finished strong (as he did most of spring practice) after a shaky spring-game start.

And returning part-time starter N’Kosi Perry, a redshirt sophomore, continued to look impressive as he also had all spring (despite being sacked four times in the spring game).

The three will be on view again, at least to the South Florida media for a short while, when fall camp begins next Friday on campus.

Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz said Thursday at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff that after the second fall scrimmage, coaches “will know who the guy is’’ and will “spend the majority of the [final] two weeks on Florida prep.”

Added Diaz: “Now, whether that gets announced at that time, we’ll see. Who knows? I’m hoping with the work they did in the summer time it will be rather obvious at that moment.”

Diaz spoke to South Florida beat writers in a private interview Thursday, and commented on each quarterback. The coach prefaced the quarterback talk by saying that all he knows “about the guys during the summer is they are going to class and staying off a list.’’

“I purposely don’t pay attention,’’ Diaz continued. “I don’t want to hear the players who are looking good in the seven-on-sevens... because it doesn’t matter and [coaches] will start finding out Friday.’’

Perry, the 6-4, 195-pounder who played in 11 games, made six starts in the regular season and completed 97 of 191 passes (50.8 percent) for 1,091 yards and 13 touchdowns, with six interceptions, had multiple social media-fueled controversies in 2018 and even began last season suspended.

Diaz confirmed that Perrry won the spring QB MVP award and made the ACC honor roll. But the coach tempered his comments on Perry this week when asked if he has seen “a drastic change in his mentality.’’

“I think he’s improving. I do,’’ Diaz said. “I think he’s still learning. Quarterbacks don’t end up on lists. And that’s just the way it should be. Quarterbacks should not be high maintenance guys off the field. If anything, they should be opposite. They should be the most low maintenance part of your football team.

“Growing into what it means to be the quarterback at the University of Miami is what they’re all really learning to be perfectly honest with you. I would say N’Kosi, like all of them, is better. But I would not say that he’s figured it all out and is straight A’s across the board.”

Diaz told the local beat writers that Williams, 6-2 and 210 pounds, “came out of spring knowing that Jarren can do it. Jarren can make throws, Jarren can process.

“I think Jarren’s standpoint is having the maturity to do it now.

“Are you a guy that is ready in your red-shirt freshman year? People forget, man. I know we live in a world of transfers. It’s hard to walk on a college campus and be the quarterback your first year. It’s hard to walk on the college campus and be the quarterback your second year. It’s really hard. And we act like it’s now, we act like it’s easy. If you don’t start your first year-and-a-half, you have to go somewhere. It’s really hard. It’s just hard. We all forget what it’s like to be 19. It’s hard to be 19 and have that maturity to get it all sorted out.”

Diaz was asked specifically about Williams’ maturity.

“For Jarren,’’ Diaz replied, “it’s being the same guy every day. It could be something silly in the spring of calling the right play in the huddle or not going the wrong way on a run or missing a very obvious check at the line of scrimmage. That’s the mental thing you’ve got to have. Quarterbacks are so much more than, ‘Can you throw the ball to this guy?’ And that’s where [quarterbacks] coach [Dan] Enos does such a great job in preparing these guys.

“The fact that you can do it is a blessing and a curse. You’re good enough to do it. The problem is now you’re going to have to do it.”

And here’s what Diaz said about Martell, a 5-11, 210-pound five-star quarterback in high school who redshirted his true freshman season at Ohio State and last year played sparingly in six games, completing 23 of 28 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown, with 22 carries for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

“Same thing. You could see it all click at little different times for the guys in spring. And that’s why we weren’t naming a starter in spring. Tate, it was Day 13.

“Tate came out Day 13 and 15 and just was dealing, and walked off the field feeling very confident about himself and it kind of changes his demeanor. Day 14 the same thing and then he went to Orlando and my opinion played very well in Orlando. So, he came out of spring with a lot of confidence.

“And I’m not saying he wasn’t doing well before Day 13. But Day 13 is when it all kind of seemed to really come into play.”

Stay tuned.

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.