Miami Football: Why 'Canes Need Kevin Olsen to Win Starting Job

Chris BelloContributor IDecember 3, 2013

Miami quarterback Kevin Olsen redshirted in 2013 and will compete for the starting job next season.
Miami quarterback Kevin Olsen redshirted in 2013 and will compete for the starting job next season.Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For over a decade the Miami Hurricanes earned the moniker "Quarterback U." Deserved too, as the program won four national titles in a nine-year span, each with a different legend under center. 

Unfortunately that storied history is a mile in the rear view and Miami's rich tradition has suffered since.

Stephen Morris has one final game remaining as a Hurricane. Once the senior quarterback departs, the Miami program is back at a crossroads, forced to choose between youth and seniority.

Kevin Olsen was part of the Hurricanes' small 2013 recruiting class and spent the season redshirting and learning the system. Rivals rated Olsen a 4-star prospect and the 12th-ranked pro-style quarterback in the nation.

Miami has been searching for it's "next Ken Dorsey" for over a decade.
Miami has been searching for it's "next Ken Dorsey" for over a decade.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The New Jersey native chose Coral Gables over several other destinations and was considered a coup by the Hurricanes and third-year head coach Al Golden.

Should Olsen not prove ready for the main stage next spring, Miami would be forced to rely on senior-to-be Ryan Williams, or one of a few incoming freshmen. Williams was a 2-star prospect who signed with Memphis out of high school, transferred to "The U" a season later as Golden looked to build depth at the position.

Williams sat out 2011, backed up Morris in 2012 and has played mop-up duty at times this year.

On paper, Olsen has the pedigree to beat out Williams, while also providing a better long-term play for the Hurricanes. A one-year option at quarterback in 2014 inevitably keeps Miami in rebuild mode for another season, which this program can ill afford.

Golden and offensive coordinator James Coley are better suited to begin grooming Olsen with some in-game experience next season and taking some lumps—a much better option than settling on a one-year fix in 2014 and starting that process in 2015.

Olsen could conceivably play at Miami through 2017, making the investment worth it, whereas Williams doesn't have the same upside. If for some reason Olsen doesn't have what it takes to beat out an unheralded senior transfer, the Hurricanes have a bigger dilemma than ever expected.

Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier are expected to join Miami's 2014 class—currently boasting 28 verbal commitments and ranked third by ESPN—but as true freshmen, they can't afford to be heavily relied upon.

After a decade of turmoil, the Miami program craves stability—and subpar quarterback play is a big reason the Hurricanes have remained in disaster mode.

Ken Dorsey was the last true great Miami gunslinger. Under center as a starter from 2000 to 2002, the Heisman candidate amassed a 35-2 overall record, played in three BCS games, two title games and won a national championship.

Brock Berlin gave the post-Dorsey Hurricanes two good years—especially in retrospect—but things derailed in 2005 when Kyle Wright took the reigns.

In the California native's defense, Miami went through three offensive coordinators and two head coaches during Wright's tenure. The Hurricanes also saw a tremendous drop off in overall talent. Regardless, the 5-star prospect didn't live up to the hype and the program paid dearly.

In Wright's wake, local 4-star prospect Jacory Harris also withered under the pressure, the two quarterbacks combining for a seven-year drought at the University of Miami.

Williams' efforts have been appreciated and either Kaaya and Rosier could pan out down the road, but Miami needs to lean on Olsen for the immediate road to recovery. No better remedy for the Hurricanes than for a highly touted prospect to hit the ground running next spring.

After a decade of struggles, the Hurricanes appear due for a can't-miss-type quarterback to finally hit.

Follow Chris Bello on Twitter @allCanesBlog.