With Lamar Jackson preparing for the AFC Championship Game, it made me think about former Florida high school QB’s who could have really impacted the Miami Hurricanes. Some of these QB’s were in a different style, or blocked by a quarterback already on campus, but the top-3 choices I’ve gone with for the post were all four-star QB’s or higher per 247 or Tom Lemming.
While “Touchdown” Tommie Frazier and Jackson would have been a shift in offensive scheme during those eras of ‘Canes football, Teddy Bridgewater fit the mold and wound up at Louisville instead.
Let’s take a look back at the history of QB’s that could have been for the ‘Canes.
Tommie Frazier, Bradenton Manatee HS, c/o 1992
No.3 player in the country per Tom Lemming in 1992, Frazier wanted to play at the University of Miami but wound up as the quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers instead.
Over his junior and senior seasons at Bradenton Manatee HS on the west coast of FL, Frazier threw for 1,600 yards and 33 touchdowns, and passed for 2,600 yards and 30 touchdowns.
While Gino Torretta (1992 Heisman Trophy winner, 1989 and 1991 National Champion) was a senior on the ‘Canes roster in ‘92, the other two passers on the roster to replace him in 1993 were Frank Costa and Ryan Collins.
Frazier, a four year starter at Nebraska who played in three National Championship games, threw as many TD’s as Collins and Costa combined (43) with only 11 interceptions while the aforementioned duo threw 41 INT’s.
Frazier finished 33-3 as a starting QB for the Huskers winning two national titles (1994, 1995) including one over the Hurricanes in the 1995 Orange Bowl, and won four Big Eight Conference Championships.
Against Miami’s most hated rival, the Florida Gators, Frazier dominated the 1996 Fiesta Bowl including what was probably the greatest run in college football history.
Frazier finished 1-0 vs. the Miami Hurricanes. At the time, Miami was coached by Dennis Erickson and running the one-back spread from 11 personnel (one back one tight end). Frazier was seen as more of a “skill player” in that offense than a QB, where he benefitted from Tom Osborne’s option offense at Nebraska.
Lamar Jackson, Boynton Beach Community High School, c/o 2015
Lamar Jackson arrived at Louisville in 2015 as the 18th ranked QB in the 2015 class. Miami signed three-star Evan Shirreffs (91st overall) instead of Jackson. Jackson, a four-star QB from the Ft. Lauderdale, FL area, would have entered a QB competition versus Brad Kaaya in 2015.
In high school, Jackson threw for 2,263 yards and 31 touchdowns with nine interceptions while rushing for 1,624 yards and 22 touchdowns. The six-foot-two, 212 pound NFL MVP tied Kaaya for passing TD’s in college with 69 through the air, while throwing 27 INT’s to Kaaya’s 24.
Unlike Kaaya, Jackson was a dual-threat talent who also rushed for 4,132 rush yards, 6.3 ypc and 50 TD’s for the Cardinals in three seasons. Kaaya completed 3% more of his passes while averaging 0.1 yards per attempt more as well.
Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 before becoming the 32nd overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Jackson won the AP NFL MPV for his performance during the 2019 season, and is now 58-19 as a starting QB in the NFL.
Jackson signed with Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals rather than the ‘Canes. The 2015 Hurricanes were coached by Al Golden who was fired that season. Could a change in offense have saved Golden’s time in Coral Gables? Probably not. But Kaaya was drilled in James Coley’s more ‘pro style’ offense and Jackson could’ve used his legs to escape pressure and keep defense’s honest.
Teddy Bridgewater, Miami-Northwestern HS, c/o 2011
Teddy Bridgewater signed with the Louisville Cardinals in 2011 after decommiting from Miami that off-season. Bridgewater was a four-star prospect out of Miami Northwestern HS who was the 11th rated QB in the country.
In high school, Bridgewater threw for 2,546 yards and 32 TD’s as a junior and 2,606 yards and 22 TD’s as a senior (missed time with an injury).
Bridgewater was thrust into the starting QB role under Charlie Strong during Strong’s 2nd season as head coach. Bridgewater had a rough 2011 campaign throwing 14 TD’s and 12 INT’s on 7.2 ypa and completing 64.5% of his passes.
Bridgewater transformed his game and finished his college career completing 68.4% of his passes with 72 TD’s, 24 INT’s, and averaging 8.6 ypa. Jacory Harris was a departing senior in 2011 while Stephen Morris was a backup QB.
The QB room was crowded but Bridgewater would’ve made great competition for Morris moving forward, rather than not signing a QB in the 2011 class. Bridgewater actually faced off against Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl, beating his hometown ‘Canes 36-9.
Bridgewater was drafted 32nd overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Geno Smith and Michael Penix Jr. receive honorable mention nods.
After his injury plagued time at Indiana, Penix could’ve ‘come home’ rather than transferring to Washington. Penix, a Tampa, FL native, threw for 4,243 yards, tossed 61 touchdowns and only six interceptions as a two-year starter for Tampa Bay Tech. Penix won the Maxwell Award in 2023, played for the College Football Playoff National Championship for the ‘23 season, and made two different all-conference teams as a QB.
Instead of coming to Coral Gables to compete with Tyler Van Dyke, Penix had a familiar relationship with Kalen DeBoer (his old OC at Indiana) who clearly turned him into a household name and NFL Draft pick over two seasons in Seattle. Penix will enter the NFL Draft while DeBoer is now the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Smith, a Miami native who played his high school football at Miramar HS, threw for 3,089 yards and 30 touchdowns his senior season. Smith was a first-team all-state selection and Parade All-American in 2009. The six-foot-three, 220 pound passer could have given Harris real competition or served as an able backup after Robert Marve’s transfer.
Smith became the 39th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, heading to the New York Jets.