While there are many important positions on a football team (some could argue they’re all important), the position that gets the most focus and scrutiny is one that the Miami Hurricanes are well stocked at: Quarterback.
Heading into the spring, Miami has a burgeoning star player at the position, with several other talented players growing and developing behind the starter, waiting for their time to lead the Canes. This is a very good thing for Miami, and one that Mario Cristobal will look to leverage to great success in his first year home with the U.
I’m sure if you’re reading this piece, you’ve heard of Tyler Van Dyke. The 3rd year sophomore (thanks, COVID season not counting towards eligibility) burst onto the scene last year following D’Eriq King’s season-ending injury, and firmly planted himself at the top of the depth chart.
Named both the ACC’s offensive and overall rookie of the year, Van Dyke completed 62% of his passes for 2.931 yards with 25 TDs and 6 INTs. Van Dyke ended the year by throwing for 300+ yards and 3+ TDs in his last 6 consecutive games. That ongoing streak is an ACC record. Pretty good if you ask me.
In the same way as the past 2 seasons, there is no question who Miami’s QB1 will be. Sure, every player will be challenged to be their best and improve their craft, but this isn’t an open competition. Van Dyke is one of the best QBs in the country, and he’ll start for Miami, no doubt.
This spring is about getting him comfortable with the new scheme OC Josh Gattis will employ. And finding ways to improve Van Dyke’s already-strong performance.
Like Van Dyke, Garcia came to Miami as a 4-star recruit. And, as a freshman last year, Garcia battled Van Dyke for the backup spot to then-starting QB D’Eriq King, and was actually ahead of Van Dyke with the 2’s.
But then Garcia broke his ankle in the Central Connecticut State game, and that was the end of his season. And, with Van Dyke’s ascension to the QB1 role based on his strong play on the field, the timeline for Garcia to find major playing time has changed.
Like Van Dyke, Garcia has a big arm, and the key for him in developing touch in the intermediate passing game, and just getting comfortable with the new offense. As the backup QB, Garcia needs to prepare like he’s the starter. And, as we saw last year (and in the bowl game against Oklahoma State the year before), the backup is one play away from being the guy.
The highest rated QB recruit Miami has signed in more than a decade, Garcia clearly has pedigree and talent. He’ll work this spring and season to refine that talent with an eye on 2023 to take the reigns of the Canes offense (assuming TVD has another stellar season and departs for the NFL).
Now, before you react, this isn’t a slight to the player. It’s an honest assessment that his game needs work.
Meet Jacurri Brown, yet-another 4-star QB in the Canes’ QB room. The early-enrollee from Valdosta, GA will work behind Van Dyke and Garcia to refine his craft this spring.
As with nearly all early enrollees, this spring is about setting the foundation for what it looks like to prepare at an elite level, while refining the areas of his game (arm strength, playmaking in big moments) that are elite, and developing those that aren’t as yet (consistency, accuracy, reading progressions, playing against college defenses in general).
Miami Hurricanes 2022 Recruiting Notebook: QB Jacurri Brown. Blue Chip QB @jacurri_brown11 brings big time talent to Coral Gables. But there’s work left to refine his technique and unlock his full potential. #Canes https://t.co/1DZvh8boSH pic.twitter.com/t8TlHan1hc— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) December 15, 2021
Brown has a big frame, a big arm, and success in big moments in his HS career. What he doesn’t have is consistent touch on the ball, particularly in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Those things can come in time, and the foundational work toward that development will happen this spring. Brown flashes these things, but consistency with his performance is the key for him.
While Garcia should have a backup now, start next year mindset (I mean, hey, some might even think he should STILL start now, even over TVD), Brown’s timeline should be much longer. In a perfect world, Brown playing meaningful snaps or competing for the starting job anytime in the next 2 years would be fully off the table. Give him the time to develop so he can use his impressive physical skills to their best success when he gets on the field later in his college career.
Van Dyke, Garcia, and Brown are the headliners in the QB room, but there are others. Peyton Matocha and walk-on Ryan Rizk fill out the roster. You need plenty of arms to throw in practice for drills, and so you don’t overwork the arms on the roster overall. Both Matocha and Rizk fit that bill. They’ll run the scout team and work on their craft, but neither figures to be a major contributor for Miami in their careers here.
Van Dyke returns as the unquestioned starter, with Garcia backing him up, and Matocha/Rizk rounding out the group while Brown begins the journey of improvement and development to prepare for playing time down the line.
The most important thing for this, and any, position is to get through the spring without injury. Beyond that, the spring should be a journey of development and preparation. Miami has one of the best QBs in the country, and I’m excited to see what he can do on the field for an encore next season.