It’s hard to talk about the Hurricanes without referring back to the quarterback competition that remains ongoing. Incumbent starter Malik Rosier is holding onto the job as a group of freshman nip at his heels to usurp him from the top spot. From N’Kosi Perry to Jarren Williams, a case has been made for either guy to, well, become the guy on offense. Each man possesses admirable intangibles that would justify them lining up under center starting in September.
Except, there is one exception named Cade Weldon.
Similar to N’Kosi Perry, Weldon is a redshirt freshman who sat and watched from the sideline last season as the Hurricanes ascended up the rankings and rained down on opponents. A three-star recruit, according 247 Sports, from Thomas Jefferson High School in Tampa, Florida, Weldon finished his senior year with 3,135 passing yards and 19 touchdowns—according to his player bio on the Hurricanes’ team website.
In high school, Weldon demonstrated the ability to make most of the throws that a college quarterback would be expected to make. Hitting receivers on deep outs, slants and post routes, as well as throwing a pretty good fade route in the red zone, it’s evident as to why Miami offered the QB a scholarship.
However, after any player has signed a letter of intent, the question turns to: when are you going to produce? A query that few people have asked over the course of the off-season. You’d be excused if you forgot that Weldon was in the mix at the position. After picking up an eye infection, the team was concerned not only about Weldon’s health, but with the infection being contagious, so the QB was held out for a substantial portion of spring practices. Weldon was finally cleared by doctors to return to the team and, according to head coach Mark Richt, played well in the final two days of practice.
Among all the combatants for the QB job this season, Weldon is the dark horse. Working primarily on the practice squad in 2017, few people outside of Miami’s facilities honestly know what Weldon brings to the field. For now, we can go off of his high school film to examine his potential, though ACC competition is a completely different animal than what he saw as a high school QB. With that said, it would be unfair to count Weldon out simply because of the stars beside his name coming out of high school. Is availability still the best ability? Absolutely. It’s why, starting in training camp, it should be fascinating to see how the QB dynamic changes with Weldon fully healthy and in the mix.
Being labelled as pro-style quarterback was a disservice to the young QB. With a label like that, your mind flashes to Jay Cutler or Sam Bradford being ran over as they clung to the pocket for dear life. In fact, Weldon has decent legs that are able to navigate their way outside the pocket, buying time for both himself and the receivers downfield. ’Canes fans can compare Weldon’s ability to escape from a jam is similar to Rosier’s, in the sense that neither guy puts too many defenders on roller skates, running with the ball tucked, they’re capable enough to make the defense be wary enough to game plan against the possibility of it happening on gameday.
An underdog candidate to win the starting job, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Weldon could land the backup or third-string duties. CMR has asserted that this season will be different, with both Weldon and Perry having been redshirted, there’s more quality behind whoever the starter may be, enough that a few bad series, quarters or halves could lead to a QB change on the spot. We’ve witnessed Richt pull the move before, now with plenty of ammunition to make a change again if need be.
At this point, who knows if Weldon can be the guy, or just another guy at the position. Whatever the outcome, he should compete and make life a bit uncomfortable for his peers. Leaving us warning you: don’t be one of those people who forgot all about Cade.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!