In case you missed it, Miami’s starting QB Tyler Van Dyke left the 45-24 loss to Duke with an apparent arm/shoulder injury. While Head Coach Mario Cristobal has declined to provide an update on Van Dyke’s status, the star QB was seen on campus with his arm in a sling on Monday.
From preseason top 20 to a rebuild: Mario Cristobal’s first season in Miami is a hot mess— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) October 24, 2022
QB Tyler Van Dyke was spotted with his right arm in a sling as he left campus Monday. Still no word on his return.
via @TheAthleticCFB https://t.co/GTPpkRnRMx
With the likelihood, if not certainty, that Van Dyke will be out this week if not longer, it’s time to turn to the player who will replace him at the controls of the Miami offense.
Enter Jake Garcia.
Who is Jake Garcia? Where did he come from? What was his profile as a recruit coming to Miami? What can we expect from him as he steps into the spotlight? Let’s get into it.
Garcia’s Recruiting Journey
A California native, Garcia became a name to know early on in his HS career, both for his play and multiple transfers. A high 4-star recruit, Garcia had suitors from all over the country vying for his services.
Early on in the process, Garcia followed the path of many SoCal QBs and committed to the USC Trojans. SC has routinely locked down the top local arms to play for their program, so locking Garcia down fit in that paradigm.
As time went on, however, Garcia fell out of love with USC and Miami was pushing hard, so after about 15 months being committed to the Trojans, Garcia decommitted a mere two weeks before the early signing period.
With the COVID-19 pandemic potentially postponing the California HSFB in 2020, Garcia made the daring choice to move and transfer to Georgia, a State that was playing the HSFB season as planned, to get on the field, finish his HS career, and commit to the school of his choice. This move was not without trials and tribulations, as after an ESPN profile on his move, the GHSAA ruled Garcia ineligible at Valdosta.
But then, Garcia moved again to Loganville Grayson, and was deemed eligible again. I don’t get it either, but hey, whatever. Once eligible, Garcia took over the starting QB job at Grayson and led the Rams to a 14-0 record and a State Championship in Georgia’s 6A Classification.
In the end, Garcia picked Miami over Alabama, USC, and FSU among many others. FSU particularly thought they had late traction with Garcia heading into his announcement but that clearly wasn’t the case.
As with all recruits, I wrote a Recruiting Notebook about Garcia when he signed with Miami in 2022. You can check that out here:
Miami Hurricanes 2021 Recruiting Notebook: QB Jake Garcia. #Canes add @jakegarcia14 to raise the level of talent in the QB room, and give them a blue chip prospect to compete for the QB1 job down the line. #TheU https://t.co/QOIuo8DRXs pic.twitter.com/euYgYL1HwZ— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) December 17, 2020
And just like that, Miami had the highest rated recruit at the quarterback position since Kyle Wright in 2003.
A Golden Arm
Alright, so you know about Garcia’s pedigree as recruit, and that was well earned based upon his performance and potential.
Garcia has a very good arm, and beyond that, does the things you need from a QB. Accurate ball placement. A demonstrated history of winning. Mobility in the pocket. The confidence to trust his arm to make the throws an offense needs to succeed. And more.
I wrote about Garcia’s strengths and weaknesses in the Recruiting Notebook, but I also noted in that piece that the optimal plan would be a redshirt in 2021, the backup QB spot in 2022, then competing for or assuming the starting QB spot in 2023 (likely with Van Dyke moving on to the NFL). So it’s a bit earlier than what I viewed as the optimal timeframe for Garcia to step into the starting QB role, but it’s on the timeline for sure.
Also, former SOTU contributor Roman Marciante did this Next Level Quarterback video eval on Garcia, which dove into his game, and projection. Those “in the future” comments are really about now. Check it out:
Garcia has the ability to be a successful quarterback. But he’s going to have to grow up fast for Miami’s offense to have the kind of success they’re looking for.
The updated offense over the last 3 games has been heavily skewed toward the pass, and the kinds of passes that Tyler Van Dyke favors. It will be interesting to see if Garcia is able to operate the offense at or near the same level of success. And his passing performance will be crucial for success, as Miami has seen the efficacy of the run game fall off a cliff in the last 4 games.
The safe thing would be to pare down the offense and put Garcia in a “game manager” type role. That’s what teams often do with younger players at QB.
I don’t see that as a true option in this case.
Miami’s offensive line is really, really bad. And that in turn has made the run game basically non-existent. With those things being true (and believe me, they are), dumbing down the offense wouldn’t help Garcia. It would actively hurt his prospects for success.
Offensive Coordinator Josh Gattis needs to find plays and packages to utilize Garcia’s skills. Again, this is a blue chip prospect with plenty of athletic talent who has shown in games, even the Duke game, that he can be successful at this level. But yes, Garcia needs to eliminate the turnovers he had last time out — 5 of them in total — and that will be a key toward improved performance for him.
We’ll see what Garcia is able to do when he leads Miami onto the field against Virginia this Saturday at 12:30pm.