No. 1 quarterback still undetermined for Hurricanes

Aug 14, 2017 - 8:35 PM Miami came out of the spring with no established No. 1 quarterback. After two weeks of fall camp, only one thing has changed.

Instead of three candidates for the job, there are now four with true freshman N'Kosi Perry joining junior Malik Rosier, sophomore Evan Shirreffs and true freshman Cade Weldon, who enrolled early to take part in spring practice.

Coming out of the team's first major scrimmage, coach Mark Richt rated all four about even. Rosier, who was a backup last year and had one start in place of an injured Brad Kaaya in 2015, and Shirreffs have a slight advantage because of their maturity and familiarity with the program, but that is about it.

Each has gotten a similar number of reps in practice and each had his moments in the initial scrimmage, which was closed to the public and media. Rosier was 8 of 14 passing for 181 yards; Shirreffs 10 of 14 for 132; Perry 6 of 15 for 68; Weldon was 2 of 10 for 40 yards.

"The good news is that all four guys competing can really play," Richt said.

Senior Braxton Berrios gave his rundown on the four candidates from his prospective as a wide receiver, starting with the most experienced, Rosier.

"He has a start under his belt and has more experience than any of the other ones," Berrios said. "Which is a plus. He's a veteran as well. He's been here as long as I have. Obviously, he hasn't started as many games, but he's a veteran as well so he knows how this offense works."

Shirreffs didn't get on the field last year but had a good spring.

"He's an athletic guy," Berrios said. "He can sling the ball. It's just making the right decisions all the time. He's actually a really good quarterback. Very smart. He knows everything. He knows what to do. He knows where he's going with the ball. Very decisive, and again he can run as well. He's athletic as well."

Perry got the most attention of any of the signees in a highly rated class.

"He probably has the strongest arm, just pure arm," Berrios said. "He can get that ball to hum. He's a young guy. All the little things he has to get right, but he's a smart guy and very athletic, as you can tell."

Weldon, the son of former Florida State quarterback Casey Weldon, also has a strong arm.

"Just a young guy," Berrios said. "He has all the potential in the world. It's just a matter of him getting up to speed with the other guys."

The hope is that one will begin to emerge after the second scrimmage. The Hurricanes open the season Sept. 2 against Bethune-Cookman.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: RB Mark Walton -- With Miami looking to get its passing game going with a new quarterback, Walton looks to be a steadying influence in the running game. He rushed for 1,117 yards in earning a starting role in coach Mark Richt's first season. He is a tough inside runner as well as a solid receiver out of the backfield with 49 receptions for 533 yards in his two seasons. Walton returned kickoffs as a freshman in 2015 but gave up that role when he became the primary ball carrier in the offense.

BREAKOUT STAR: WR Ahmmon Richards -- Richards got his collegiate career off to an outstanding start, earning third-team All-ACC recognition after catching 49 passes for a Miami freshman record 934 yards. His 19.1 average yards per catch led NCAA freshmen. But he no longer is an unknown commodity as he goes into his sophomore season. "I told him all offseason, 'Hey, the honeymoon is over.' He's not the unknown guy anymore," receivers coach Ron Dugan said. "Now you've got a target on your back."

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: OT George Brown -- After sitting out last season following his transfer from LSU, Brown looks ready to contribute this fall. The O-line looks to be a solid position for the Hurricanes, but depth took a hit with a couple of transfers opening up an opportunity for Brown. Brown also redshirted at LSU in his freshman year, so he will be getting his first playing time since 2014. He was a three- or four-star prospect, depending on the recruiting service, coming out of high school in Cincinnati.

--C Nick Linder announced he was leaving Miami and will sit out this season before transferring to another school. He had 25 starts in three seasons for the Hurricanes.

--OT Sunny Odogwu, who left Miami earlier in the summer, will play at UCLA as a graduate transfer. Odogwu played in only four games in 2016 before sustaining a season-ending ankle injury,

--DT Gerald Willis is taking a leave of absence from the team and won't play in 2017, but coach Mark Richt apparently has left the door open for the junior to return. Willis transferred to Miami from Florida in 2014. He played in nine games last season despite injuring his knee in the loss to Florida State; he recorded 19 tackles (1.5 sacks).

--CB Terrance Henley, who mostly played on special teams last year, left the team in July to seek more playing time elsewhere.

--TE Jovani Haskins, a redshirt freshman, has transferred to West Virginia, where he joins former Miami quarterback Jack Allison, who left the Hurricanes after spring practice.

--DB Ryan Mayes, a junior who recorded little playing time in his first two seasons, has left the Miami program.

--LB Michael Pinckey, who had an outstanding season in starting as a freshman in 2016, has been limited by a hamstring issue. His absence has given junior LB Darrion Owens more opportunities.

--TE Michael Irvin Jr. was dealing with hydration issues and missed some early time in camp.

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