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Replacing Kaaya: a look at Miami’s impending QB Battle for 2017

Life after Kaaya starts now, guys.

NCAA Football: Miami at Duke
Malik Rosier is one of several players who will battle to be Miami’s new QB post-Kaaya
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in several years, there is uncertainty at QB for the Miami Hurricanes. Yesterday, 3-year starter Brad Kaaya announced that he would forego his senior season and declare for the 2017 NFL draft. You read more about that here:

The Contenders

Here’s a list of the players who will be vying to replace Brad Kaaya as the starting QB for the Miami Hurricanes

Miami Hurricanes QBs

First Name Last Name Year Height Weight 247Sports comp. Misc.
First Name Last Name Year Height Weight 247Sports comp. Misc.
Malik Rosier Redshirt Junior 6'1" 212lbs 3-star (0.8438) 1 start
Vincent Testaverde Jr Redshirt Junior 6'1" 195lbs no ranking walk-on
Evan Shirreffs Redshirt Sophomore 6'5" 195lbs 3-star (0.8206)
Jack Allison Redshirt Freshman 6'6" 200lbs 4-star (0.9253)
N'Kosi Perry Freshman 6'4" 176lbs 4-star (0.9211)
Cade Weldon Freshman 6'2" 203lbs 3-star (0.8439) Early Enrollee

So now that you know the names, let’s take a deeper look at the candidates for Miami’s starting QB:

Malik Rosier

Of the group of contenders for Miami Hurricanes QB, Malik Rosier is the only one who has even moderate experience at the collegiate level. Having played mainly in blowouts, Rosier saw extensive action in 2 games in 2015: the 58-0 loss to Clemson following Brad Kaaya’s 2nd quarter concussion, and the Duke game, which was highlighted by Corn Elder’s game winning Kick Return.

Rosier went 7/22 for 42 yards with 0 TD and 2 INT vs Clemson in a game that was putrid for Miami from top to bottom.

The next week, however, Rosier went on the road at Duke — hardly a top tier team but a solid group in 2015 — and went 20/29 for 272 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT in the thrilling 30-27 victory.

Outside of those 2 games, Rosier saw action in 11 other games over the last 2 years. That’s not a ton of work by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s more than zero, which is the combined experience of the other 4 players in contention to start in 2017.

Rosier is a mobile QB with a good but not great arm and substandard accuracy. He lacks ideal height for the position at 6’1” but can make up for it with his ability to run. By moving the pocket, Rosier can be effective finding lanes to throw the ball.

Rosier wasn’t a highly touted QB coming out of HS. He was a 2-sport athlete — he also played baseball — and was QB2 in the 2014 recruiting class with the now-departed Brad Kaaya as QB1. Rosier has given up baseball to focus on football, and it remains to be seen whether that was the right choice.

Rosier has some talent, and game experience, and that may be enough to get him to win the QB job in 2017.

Vincent Testaverde Jr.

The son of 1986 Heisman trophy winning QB Vinny, Vincent Testaverde is a walk-on at Miami. He came to The U last year after starting out as a walk-on at Texas Tech in 2015.

Testaverde may have his father’s name, but the comparisons end there. He, like Rosier, lacks ideal size for the QB position at 6’1”, and doesn’t have any outstanding physical traits.

Testaverde played in 1 game at Texas Tech back in 2014. He started in Tech’s 34-13 loss to Texas, finishing with a passing line of 15/26 for 116 yards, with 0 TDs and 1 INT. An impressive performance, it was not.

I would be SHOCKED if Testaverde made any noise in this QB battle, to be quite honest. He’s a Cane, just like his dad, but Vincent Testaverde is never going to play snaps here. If he does, something — lots of things — went horribly, terribly wrong.

Evan Shirreffs

A very cerebral player from Jefferson, GA, Shirreffs is an interesting prospect at QB for Miami. The Valedictorian of his 2015 graduating class, Shirreffs clearly has the intellect to absorb and process a playbook.

After missing most of his junior year of HS, Shirreffs was 1st team all-state in GA as a senior. He has an average to average-plus arm, but is incredibly accurate. He was one of the most accurate HS QB’s I’d ever seen in his recruiting film. Whether that translates to the collegiate level remains to be seen.

Shirreffs is a bit thin at 6’6” 200lbs, but his height is ideal for the QB position. He lacks an elite arm, so his style of play may be more Ken Dorsey than Stephen Morris. Shirreffs is a below average athlete, but still more fleet afoot than Brad Kaaya. That could be helpful with Miami’s offensive line still developing, but Shirreffs doesn’t run well enough for that to be the determining factor.

Shirreffs lacks the high end potential that others contending for the QB job possess. It would probably take a near flawless spring and fall for him to win the job.

Jack Allison

The highest rated player of this group coming out of HS per 247sports’ composite rankings, Allison has all the tools to be a great QB at the college level. The tall but thin 6’5” 190lb Allison has good height and a frame to add size. He may be a player that never gains 40lbs, but 10-20lbs would do wonders for him.

Allison’s best attribute is his CANNON for an arm. This is a kid who can throw it a mile with the flick of a wrist. There isn’t a throw on the football field that Jack Allison can’t make. This point can’t be overstated: there are few people on this earth blessed with the kind of arm Allison has. It is truly exceptional.

The drawback, however, comes in Allison’s ability to read coverages and use a variety of throws, not just the “fastball”. In last year’s Under Armour All-American game, it was easy to see that Allison wasn’t used to the speed of the athletes on the field. Hopefully a year at Miami has given Allison a better handle on the speed of the game.

Allison also needs to develop touch and the ability to anticipate/read defenses better than his HS tape showed. When you’re blessed with an arm like Allison’s, in HS you just throw as hard as you can and that makes up for mistakes. In College, plays you got away with in HS turn into deflections and interceptions.

Allison has the advantage of having been on campus for a year already. He was an early enrollee in 2016, so he’s already been through a spring, summer, and fall under the tutelage of Mark and Jon Richt. Allison has all the arm talent in the world, but he’ll need to have developed his game so he’s more than just a tall kid who throws hard if he wants to start in 2017.

N’Kosi Perry

QB1 in the 2017 recruiting class, N’Kosi Perry is a player unlike the others at this position for Miami. Perry is tall and thin at 6’4” 176lbs, and has plenty of athleticism to make plays all over the field.

Perry is a true dual-threat QB. He is equally skilled at making plays with his arms and his legs. Perry would bring a level of athleticism to the QB position that Miami hasn’t had maybe ever. Derrick Crudup and Kenny Kelly were probably the 2 QBs in the last 20 years who had anywhere near Perry’s level of athleticism.

With Mark Richt wanting to run RPOs and read-option — something we saw employed in 2016 even with the statuesque Brad Kaaya at QB — Perry could be the perfect weapon to open the QB run game and make those plays more difficult to defend than they currently are. Peter Ariz of reported back in the spring of 2016 that Perry was the #1 player on Miami’s recruiting board. Not #1 QB.....NUMBER ONE PLAYER.

Perry’s ceiling is immense. He has the most potential of any player at the QB position and it’s really not that close. His throwing mechanics and footwork could use some work, but Perry broke 20-year old records at Ocala (FL) Vanguard HS held previously by Daunte Culpepper. So, he can play a little.

With Perry’s kind of athleticism — something teams need at the QB position in today’s iteration of football — and the status as one of, if not THE top player in this class, it stands to reason that Perry will be given a very real chance to win the job in the fall.

Cade Weldon

QB1a in the 2017 recruiting class, Cade Weldon is a player with plenty of talent, and a strong pedigree. Weldon’s father Casey was a starting QB at Florida State in 1990 and 1991 (when he was the Heisman Trophy Runner-Up to Desmond Howard), where he was coached by then-FSU QB coach...Mark Richt. The younger Weldon is following his father’s footsteps to play for Richt, this time at Miami.

Cade is a very talented, but very underrated, player. This is due to one reason: Cade missed the majority of his junior year after tearing ligaments in his knee. Missing that time dropped him down many recruiting boards, as he missed a season and plenty of camp, combine, and 7on7 time due to the injury.

Weldon came back with a vengeance as a senior, however. He threw for more than 3,100 yards in just 9 games as a senior, leading his team to the playoffs. Weldon had several 300+ yard games on the year, playing in Florida’s 5A classification.

Unlike fellow 2017 recruit Perry, who won’t reach campus until May, Weldon is an early enrollee who will be on campus in January and participate in Spring Football. This additional time on campus will give him the chance to work with Coaches Richt and Richt and showcase his talents. Cade Weldon might not be the front runner for starting QB in 2017, but he’s definitely going to be in the discussion.

Outlook for 2017

As with most teams who are faced with a QB battle, Miami could go one of two ways with their choice: the safe way, or the best way.

If Miami wants to play it safe — high floor/low ceiling — then the choice will probably be between Malik Rosier and Evan Shirreffs, with Malik Rosier having a substantial advantage heading into the battle. Rosier and Shirreffs have been at Miami the longest, and Rosier has won a road game in the ACC. That’s not the strongest resume ever, but when you’re behind the greatest statistical QB in Miami Hurricanes history, there’s few snaps to be had.

If Miami wants to play it the best way — low floor/high ceiling — then the choice will be less clear. N’Kosi Perry is the prototype for Dual-Threat QBs, and Richt openly wants to integrate QB run (or the threat thereof) into the playbook. Allison has a cannon for an arm, can move some but isn’t a runner like Perry, but can make every throw on the field with ease. Weldon has a good frame, obviously fantastic pedigree being the son of a former CFB and NFL QB, and will be on campus next week. And I’ve already mentioned Rosier and Shirreffs.

It’s early and nobody has seen these QBs work as QB1 in practice, but just looking at physical attributes and scheme fit, the top candidates for starting QB in my mind are:

  1. Malik Rosier
  2. Jack Allison
  3. N’Kosi Perry

Yes, Evan Shirreffs and/or Cade Weldon — especially Weldon — could make a run to be in this group, but as of now, Rosier, Allison, and Perry are my top 3.

I may be going on a limb here but when has that stopped me before? I think that, due to Mark Richt looking to take a leap forward, and with all his physical skills in the pass and run game, that N’Kosi Perry may be the player to beat in this QB battle.

No, he hasn’t stepped foot on campus yet. No, he hasn’t gotten his hands on a playbook yet. But Perry is the kind of athlete that Miami has lacked at the QB position, and would add a level of dynamism that could be just the thing the Hurricanes need in 2017.

Miami isn’t afraid to play freshmen. Just look at Ahmmon Richards, and Joseph Jackson, and Shaq Quarterman, and Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud, and Malek Young, and Travis Homer. Sure, it’s different with QB who runs the show on offense, but if you’re good enough, you’ll play at Miami.

I don’t know if N’Kosi Perry will start day 1, or even at all. But, to me, he’s the future at QB for the Miami Hurricanes. With Brad Kaaya moving on to the NFL, I think the future — With Perry at QB — should start now.

Regardless of which way Miami goes at QB, whoever starts this season will have incredibly large shoes to fill. We’ll see in the coming months just who will be the one to follow Brad Kaaya’s footsteps as the Miami Hurricanes’ starting QB.

Agree with me? Disagree? Who do YOU want to see as Miami’s next starting QB? Hop in the comments and keep the discussion going.

Go Canes