Quarterback was UM’s weakest position last season, but new Hurricanes offensive coordinator Dan Enos indicated Wednesday he loves the potential of his group and emphasized the starting job is genuinely wide open — whether Tate Martell is eligible this season or not.
“I told them I have no preconceived notions about any one here,” Enos said. “I don’t have a dog in the race. I didn’t recruit any of them [except freshman Peyton Matocha, who isn’t yet enrolled] and don’t know a lot of them very well. It’s a great chance for all of them to start over and put their best foot forward.
“The thing I’m excited about [is] I walk into the room and look and see guys with ability. And as a coach, great coaches don’t see [what players are]. They see where they can be.”
Coach Manny Diaz said Martell, the ballyhooed Ohio State transfer, is in the early stages of his application for a waiver to be eligible next season. That bid for 2019 eligibility is considered a tossup at best.
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If he’s not eligible, then N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams likely would be the top challengers for the starting job, with Cade Weldon and Matocha also given a chance to compete.
Perry struggled badly in Miami’s final two games and finished with 1091 yards passing, 13 touchdowns, six interceptions and a subpar 50.8 completion percentage. But Enos said he likes what he has seen of Perry on tape.
“Athletic, has a very good arm, very impressed with his upper body throwing mechanics and his touch,” Enos said. “There are a lot of really good things and a lot of good building blocks he’s got. The guy has good size.”
Enos arrived at UM several days before Martell committed.
“Had a chance to watch him when he came out of high school,” in Las Vegas after 2016, Enos said. “Very impressed with his athleticism but a guy that has a very live arm and great passing ability. The tape I watched at Ohio State, I was very impressed with his ability to run, his ability to make reads and go through progressions in the pocket. Had a very good friend on that [Buckeyes] staff and spoke to him at great length about Tate before he came here. He spoke volumes about Tate’s preparation, mindset, on and off the field, things he did in his leadership ability and echoed the same things I had seen with the arm strength and athletic ability.”
Enos said he had his chance to watch his quarterbacks work out for the first time on Wednesday and “seeing them move around, obviously no footballs or anything, very impressed with Tate and his explosiveness and ability to accelerate and ability to change direction. He’s a guy maybe a little short of stature, but he’s got really big hands, really long arms, can create torque and generate arm action and arm velocity he needs.
“Also, he’s got an extremely large athletic lower body, which makes him very flexible and very explosive in order to change throwing angles and get feet set quickly to make throws on RPOs [run pass options] and play actions. He’s built exactly as we want him.”
Enos also has “been very impressed with the way [Martell] has handled himself and carried himself in a short time, just watching and listening and earning respect of his teammates in a short time. He’s got the right mental makeup a quarterback needs, certainly will add a lot of competition to that room, which has a lot of ability.”
And Enos made clear his high regard for Metocha, who UM believes was undervalued as a two-star prospect out of Houston.
“As I started to investigate him, the first thing I notice is he’s very athletic,” Enos said. “Has very good size. 6-3 plus, 190, 195 pounds. He is a 6 foot 9 high jumper. Here’s a guy who was not on the track team and came out the last part of the season and won the state championship in the high jump.
“He’s explosive and that’s important about playing the position, a guy that has good flexibility and good athletcism. Has big hands, big guy. Very accurate, very smart, very tough. The coaches there speak volumes about him as a person. He brings a lot of characteristics we look for. He’s got all the intangible things.
“From development standpoint, I think we are going to be able to do a lot with him and help him develop as a passer. We’re very very excited about getting Peyton. At this stage of the recruiting process, you go to the grocery store and a lot of stuff has been picked over. We didn’t want to sign a guy to sign a guy. We wanted to sign a guy we thought could come in here and develop into a championship quarterback. We feel that way about Peyton. Great upside.”
Enos said his meetings with the quarterbacks so far has focused on “setting the tone of what the standard is going to be, what I expect from them from an accountability standpoint on and off the field to be a championship quarterback and a leader of this team. We will start moving into X and O stuff very soon.”
Enos said “it’s going to be hard until I get my hands on them to figure out what improvements fundamentally and technically. There’s a group of guys very hungry to get coached and understand there’s going to be a really good competition. They’re focused, they’re hungry. There’s going to be a lot of learning that going’s to take place over the next couple months. Learning a brand new system. Learning different ways to do things fundamentally and technically. Those guys are looking forward to the challenge. Those guys are going to have an intense competition.
“It will be a lot of fun for me to get my hands on them and try to shape them and coach them and teach them the system and teach them all the things involved with being a championship quarterback.”
▪ UM remains interested in former five-star UCLA linebacker/defensive end Jaelen Phillips and also is open to adding a grad transfer offensive linemen, sources said.