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After A Bumpy 2018, N’Kosi Perry Seems Ready For A New Season

It was a rollercoaster season for N’Kosi Perry in 2018, but it seems the quarterback is moving forward.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Miami v Wisconsin Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

To understand the path that N’Kosi Perry has taken to where he is now, first you have to go back to the 2017 season. A highly-touted recruit from Ocala, Hurricane fans everywhere were excited to see him under center. However, Mark Richt’s decision to redshirt Perry made fans and Perry himself wait for another year.

Fast forward to September of 2018, Perry had been battling Malik Rosier for the starting job through the offseason, and it looked as if he could possibly be the Canes starter in week one. Though, Perry’s debut would be postponed again, due to his suspension for violating team rules, which caused him to miss the LSU game.

After brief appearances against Savannah State and Toledo, it still wasn’t enough for Richt to name Perry the starter, even with the sputtering Miami offense. Then, finally, at home against FIU in September, as the Hurricanes offense looked sluggish once again, Richt turned the keys over to Perry. All Perry did was toss three touchdowns and ignite a once lifeless Canes attack. At that point, everyone was in agreement that number-5 was Miami’s guy going forward.

Well, everyone except for coach Richt. After it was obvious that Perry was the right man for the job, Richt didn’t announce who the starter was for Miami’s next game against North Carolina. In fact, it wasn’t until the Canes offense took the field for the first time in the game that we saw Perry trot out as QB1, much to the delight of those at Hard Rock Stadium.

A victory over UNC that night, plus a comeback win the next week against Florida State, a game in which Perry threw four touchdowns in the second half, we were all thinking he was the next Ken Dorsey. Ok, maybe not that far.

What followed the rest of the season was anything but pretty, for Perry, and the Canes. After throwing two interceptions in the first half at Virginia the following week, the young quarterback was pulled for Rosier. Perry wouldn’t start again until mid-November, and then went 2-1 in his final three starts, during the second-half of a season that saw Richt swap Perry in for a few drives, then go back to Rosier.

On top of on-the-field issues, Perry also got himself into deep waters with sexually explicit Snapchats, that nearly got him suspended for the Pinstripe Bowl.

Now it’s April of 2019, spring practice is nearly over, and it’s as if we’re looking at an entirely different N’Kosi Perry. With the addition of transfer Tate Martell, and the emergence of redshirt freshman Jarren Williams, not many, including myself, really thought the redshirt sophomore Perry could challenge the other two quarterbacks.

Showing the kind of potential and playmaking ability he showed in high school and parts of last season, Perry has been the regular quarterback with the first team. And it hasn’t just been throwing tighter passes that’s shown a different Perry, but also a different case of leadership. The improvement he's shown has been noticed by his teammates as well. “N’Kosi’s doing 10 times better. Mature. I just feel like Kosi’s just trusting the process, going through life smooth and I’m ready for him to play as well. Can’t wait to see him,” said Canes receiver Mike Harley to reporters following a spring practice.

Now obviously there’s still much work to be done for Perry. One of the biggest areas for improvement that’ll be crucial for Perry is his accuracy, completing only 51% of his passes last year. Now accuracy has a lot to do with confidence, and confidence comes with consistency, and in 2018, because of constant subbing with Rosier, Perry wasn’t ever able to fully settle in. Miami’s new offensive coordinator Dan Enos, handled one of the most difficult quarterback controversies in recent memory last year with Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama, so the Hurricanes shouldn't have a repeat of 2018, thankfully.

In UM’s first scrimmage two weeks ago, Perry outshined Williams and Martell going 5 for 7 for 126 yards and two touchdowns. At Miami’s scrimmage this past Saturday, Perry made some plays in front of the fans, but overthrew several receivers inside the 10-yard-line. Along with Enos, they’re trying to resurrect an offense that ranked 112th last season in passing. This Saturday, fans will get their last chance to watch Perry and the rest of the Hurricanes until fall camp as they travel to Orlando for their spring game.