So, I guess we need to talk about QB recruiting again, huh?
Miami’s only target at QB this cycle, Eugene (OR) Sheldon 4-star Michael Johnson Jr., just committed...to Penn State.
And just like that, Miami is back at square one with QB recruiting for the 2019 class.
We’ve talked about this in Class Breakdowns and this previous QB recruiting feature, but Miami put TONS of resources into recruiting Johnson Jr. Quarterbacks coach Jon Richt flew from Miami to Eugene in 5 consecutive weeks during an earlier contact period, along with tons of other communication between he and the QB prospect. It also stands to reason that Offensive Coordinator Thomas Brown and Head Coach Mark Richt put time into this recruitment as well.
There has been chatter that Johnson Jr’s apparent change of heart — he was once widely thought to be on the precipice of a commitment to the Canes — was because Miami cooled on him. Or he changed his mind cold turkey. Or a combination of both. Either way, he’s headed elsewhere, and the result matters slightly more than the narrative, in my opinion.
Now, it has been well documented that the level of talent at quarterback in the 2019 is incredibly low, historically lacking top end talent. Even with that being the case, Recruiting Rule #1 is that you have to get a QB every year. So, there’s still a need for a QB, even if that’s not going to be MJJ.
As I noted in last month’s class breakdown (published just days ago), Miami has 3 options from my vantage point:
- push hard for a player whose mind is likely already made up to go elsewhere (namely Wisconsin commit Graham Mertz, who has said he’s shut down his recruitment, so good luck with that)
- reach for a player who otherwise wouldn’t even be considered by Miami; or
- break recruiting rule #1 and go without a QB in this recruiting class.
Let’s evaluate those options, shall we?
If Miami were to push for a player committed elsewhere, they would be starting pretty much from scratch. Miami has only offered 5 QB’s TOTAL in this class. And, with Johnson Jr announcing his commitment today, those 5 players are committed to Oklahoma, Florida State, Penn State, Rutgers, and Wisconsin, respectively.
Now, there are other players committed to other schools already, but, like I just said, they probably don’t even have an offer yet. Which, at this late stage of the process, is kind of a problem, and doesn’t likely bode well for recruiting success.
Option two...that’s an “Al Golden Special”. I know you’re probably mad that I even wrote his name, and I understand. But you know I’m right. Golden routinely brought in players who should never have been an option, let alone a take, for Miami. To address QB in this class, Miami could go down a similar path. I don’t advise it or desire it, but I admit to it being possible.
For the “reach” player, think a guy who’s maybe 2 inches too short or has a tick under average arm strength or athletically raw and toolsy but lacking refined skills. I don’t have a name for you because I don’t really look for players such as this. But, that would be the profile of a “reach” take at QB.
The last option — electing not to go after or take a QB in this recruiting class — is probably the most likely...and the most unsettling. And, to me, it’s not unsettling for the present; it’s unsettling for the future.
With Malik Rosier’s collegiate eligibility ending this year, Miami will have just 3 scholarship QBs heading into 2019: N’Kosi Perry, Cade Weldon, and Jarren Williams. Perry and Weldon will be heading into year 3, with Williams heading into year 2. As of the writing of this piece, those players have combined for 0 snaps of playing time at the collegiate level so, though they may have various levels of talent and potential, that hasn’t been seen in competition against another team.
Now, the real issue isn’t only having 3 untested players at the game’s most important position; it’s about the potential of one of those players leaving.
Players want to PLAY, and at quarterback, if you’re not the starter, then that usually means your playing time is slim at best. So, if you want to play, and your current team isn’t playing you, what do you do?
The name of the player is inconsequential to this point (though I already know the comments are going to be rife with “(insert player) is guaranteed to transfer” debates for days), but if any one of Miami’s remaining scholarship QBs were to transfer out of the program, that would leave the Canes with just 2 scholarship players at the most important position on the team. That would, in turn, mean the 2nd string would be 1 play away (with an injury to the starter) from being both the starter AND the last man standing at the position.
That is greatly concerning.
If Miami were to forego taking a QB in this class, they could very easily find themselves with only 2 scholarship players at the position. That’s not good.
The other side of the “transfer” scenario would be Miami getting a transfer — preferably a grad transfer who could play right away if needed — to add to the QB room. This could be an option regardless of whether a player transfers out or not. Obviously, adding a transfer while not losing one of the Perry/Weldon/Williams trio would be best. And, it would be a direct cover for missing on/not taking a quarterback in this class.
The final consideration here is the fact that the quarterback class in 2020 is loaded with talent. And, Miami has been working on several players in that class — potential 5-star lefty Max Johnson (Brad Johnson’s son) most notably — for years. Miami could be positioning themselves to bring in 2 high caliber QB recruits in 2020. And that’s great. And I hope that happens.
But that doesn’t help the Miami roster for 2019.
So, at this point, there are plenty of questions about Miami’s quarterback recruiting for 2019. Here’s hoping the answers are to everyone’s liking.