Eye on the U

UM coach Mark Richt says Hurricanes’ quarterback race is wide open

adiaz@miamiherald.com

His record-breaking quarterback having departed a year early for the NFL, University of Miami football coach Mark Richt doesn’t have time to fret about what might have been had Brad Kaaya stayed for his senior season in 2017.

Richt’s remaining quarterbacks vying to replace Kaaya — and the two expected to sign with the Hurricanes on Feb. 1 — certainly aren’t fretting.

“First of all, everybody has got a shot at it,’’ Richt said Thursday during his first teleconference since Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl victory over West Virginia last month. “I really can’t make a comment about kids that aren’t on our campus that have not signed. But we are definitely excited about competition. That tends to bring out the best in people.”

Two soon-to-be newcomers — 6-2, 209-pound three-star recruit Cade Weldon of Tampa Jefferson High and 6-3, 170-pound four-star prospect N’Kosi Perry of Ocala Vanguard — are expected to sign next month.

Weldon, the son of former Florida State quarterback Casey Weldon, will likely arrive on campus for the spring semester. Perry, a highly rated dual-threat signal caller, is expected during the summer.

That leaves Kaaya backup Malik Rosier, an all-around talented athlete who will be a redshirt junior next season. Rosier threw four passes (two completions) for 32 yards in six games this past season, and he ran twice for 65 yards. He quit baseball before the 2016 season to concentrate on football after delivering a clutch performance against Duke when Kaaya had a concussion, completing 20 of 29 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns in the October 2015 victory.

Also competing will be rising redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs, who played sparingly in one game, with no stats; Vincent Testaverde, a rising redshirt junior who has not played; and rising redshirt freshman Jack Allison, a former consensus four-star prospect who played on the scout team this past season.

When asked about Allison’s growth, Richt said: “He had every opportunity to win the second-team job’’ and that “everybody knew there was a battle for second team, and he was in town and he had an opportunity to do that and in my opinion he wasn’t ready for that position. Now, he’s been with us a full year and he knows a lot more about the system, and he knows a lot more is at stake.”

Richt added that Shirreffs “has done a really good job of learning what to do and taking it from the meeting to the practice field. He’s very consistent. He’ll definitely be in the race.’’

As to what he will tell wide receiver prospects who might have wanted to have Kaaya as their quarterback, Richt indicated the current situation might be more to their advantage.

“The thing is, when you play with a veteran quarterback as a freshman you might not have a veteran quarterback when it means the most to you in your career,’’ the coach said. “… The big thing is that they understand that there’s a tremendous talent base within this quarterback group.’’

Richt said he spoke with Kaaya about the benefits of staying for his senior year and the benefits of turning pro, and armed him with information on what other experts projected.

“Then it just came down to what he decided was most important in his life,’’ Richt said.

▪ Richt said neither defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins nor running back Gus Edwards had broached the subject of transferring, though he added: “I’m not saying they’re not considering it.’’

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