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Miami Hurricanes Football 2017 Player Profile: QB Evan Shirreffs

Can Evan Shirreffs prove he belongs and vault to the pole position in the Miami QB competition?

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Miami
Evan Shirreffs brings a high football I.Q. to the Canes QB room.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

QB Evan Shirreffs | RS Soph. | 6’5 216 Lbs.

Recruiting Story

Evan Shirreffs was a lightly recruited, 3-star QB prospect in the class of 2015 out of Jefferson, Georgia. Ranked the 74th best Pro-Style QB in the nation by the 247 Composite, Shirreffs was known more for his high IQ, 4.0 GPA, and being valedictorian of his class than for anything on the football field. Football was a big part of his family though; his older brother, Bryant, was also a quarterback and played college football at UConn. Shirreffs wasn't recruited much after his junior season, in part because he only played six games due to a broken thumb; he threw for 1,274 yards with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions for Jefferson High and only had offers from VMI and Columbia.

However, in his senior year, Shirreffs recovered from injury and put some nice plays on tape, hitting on 69 percent of his throws for 2,784 yards with 23 touchdowns and four INTs, showing an accurate arm and sneaky athleticism at 6’5 195 lbs. After capturing Most Valuable Player honors at the Georgia vs. Florida All-Star game and circulating his senior year film in December, Division 1 schools’ ears began perking up at the thought of adding a sleeper to their class. Shirreffs soon brought in offers from Old Dominion and Eastern Michigan, as well as gaining interest from Marshall, Georgia, and, of course, Miami as Signing Day neared.

There was a roadblock for Shirreffs to get an offer from the Hurricanes, though: Miami had been all set at QB during the 2015 cycle, as 4-star dual threat QB Dwayne Lawson had been committed for months. However, when Lawson flipped to Virginia Tech a month before Signing Day, the staff was suddenly left scrambling to fill the QB-sized hole in their class and, as we know, it’s key to have at least one QB in every recruiting cycle.

Evan Shirreffs during his time at Jefferson High in Georgia.
247 Sports

Offensive coordinator and QB coach James Coley tried to get in on a few guys late and offered some dude named Lamar Jackson, a native South Floridian from Boynton Beach who, you know, all he ever did was PUT UP VIDEO GAME NUMBERS AND WIN THE HEISMAN AS A TRUE SOPHOMORE for Louisville in 2016. Obviously, Jackson stuck with Louisville and late attempts to flip American Heritage QB Torrance Gibson from his Ohio State commitment also failed. With time running out, Coley came through with an offer for Shirreffs the day after Signing Day and Shirreffs jumped on the opportunity: Evan Shirreffs was now a Miami Hurricane.

At Miami So Far

As a true freshman in 2015, Shirreffs came into a QB room that boasted sophomore wunderkind Brad Kaaya, who was coming off an impressive freshman year that solidified his position atop the Miami QB depth chart for years to come. Coupled with already being so raw coming out of high school and needing development, Shirreffs found himself in a natural redshirt situation and ran the scout team for a year.

Al Golden and his staff, including Coley, were fired during the 2015 season and that meant an uncertain future for Shirreffs, as the person that believed in him most and took a chance on him as a project player was now gone.

However, Shirreffs impressed new head coach Mark Richt by adapting to his scheme quickly and showing off his excellent footwork in spring practice, which Richt called the best on the team. Shirreffs had even led 2015 backup QB Malik Rosier for the right to play second fiddle to Kaaya in 2016, but injured his thumb in fall camp and ended up losing the backup job to Rosier. Late in the season, though, Shirreffs was elevated to QB #2 behind Kaaya during bowl practices and served as Miami’s backup for their Russell Athletic Bowl win over West Virginia.

2017 and Beyond

With Kaaya off to the NFL to play with the Detroit Lions, the QB position is wide open for the taking at Miami for the first time in 3 years. While most expected Rosier to be Kaaya’s natural successor as the only QB on the roster with actual game experience, Shirreffs has emerged as a dark horse candidate for the right to take the first snap against Bethune-Cookman on September 2nd. Shirreffs and Rosier separated themselves from the pack and ended spring ball neck and neck for the role of first team QB. The two were so far ahead of #3 QB Jack Allison in fact that it caused Allison to transfer to West Virginia.

Shirreffs had some good moments and some not so good moments in spring, but has stepped up to try and fill the leadership void left by Kaaya and the team is taking notice.

“He has done a lot well. He has done a lot to impress. He has been taking a leadership role,” said Braxton Berrios on Shirreffs’ development. “Everyday quarterback things. His timing, his rhythm seems to be better. His drops, his accuracy. He is really molding himself into a really good quarterback.”

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Miami
Shirreffs warms up before a game against Georgia Tech.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

During the first spring scrimmage where Richt allowed defenders to hit the QB, Shirreffs also showed the ability to take a hit in the pocket and keep his composure.

“I thought it was really good, I would say, with Sherriffs and Malik [Rosier],” said offensive coordinator Thomas Brown. “Most, though, Shirreffs, to see him stand in the pocket and take some shots and be able to take charge and be in command and to see his poise and not being rattled”

As a player, Shirreffs has prototypical size for the position at 6’5 and 216 pounds. He demonstrates the ability to accurately hit on short and intermediate throws, but doesn’t have much of a deep ball and struggles on throws to the sidelines in tight windows. What Shirreffs lacks in zip on the ball and arm strength, though, he makes up for with his intelligence, knowledge of the playbook, taking care of the ball, and footwork, the little things that Richt loves in his quarterbacks. For these reasons, some might say Shirreffs has a bit of a built-in advantage in the QB race.

In addition, Shirreffs, while not quite as mobile as Rosier, is athletic enough to pick up yards on the ground when he needs to and keep defenses honest; he would add a credible threat to the zone-read and RPO concepts that Mark Richt has been favoring lately. Even so, Shirreffs must improve on his day-to-day consistency to have a real chance at the job and his arm strength will always be a hindrance to his prospects.

As a redshirt sophomore, Shirreffs has an opportunity to win the QB job and run with it for the next 3 seasons. However, with freshman phenom N’Kosi Perry coming in the summer, the time is now for Shirreffs to develop his potential and take a stranglehold of the QB position in 2017, or he risks being lost in the shuffle for the rest of his career at Miami.