Can the Miami Hurricanes Return to Their Status As Quarterback U?

Matthew SchiffmanAnalyst IJuly 22, 2008

For Hurricanes fans, it feels like ages now since the program sported the nickname “Quarterback U.”

That’s because in recent years, “The U” has struggled at that position.  Ever since Ken Dorsey graduated, the University of Miami has been unable to find a solid replacement.

Brock Berlin, a transfer from in-state rival University of Florida, showed flashes of brilliance during his time in Miami.  Namely, he had a huge quarter and a half for the ‘Canes against his former Gators team in 2003, when he threw for 340 yards and led Miami from a 23-point deficit to win 38-33.

But those days were few and far between with Berlin at the helm.  He struggled with his consistency and failed to be a strong leader.

Next, the Hurricanes looked to Kyle Wright.  Having attended the same high school as Ken Dorsey, Wright was a promising young star.  However, he too had his struggles and always seemed to be a little slow in reading opponents’ defenses.

The latest bust at the quarterback position was Kirby Freeman.  More athletic than Wright and Berlin, Freeman was supposed to be a pocket passer who was a threat to run on defenses.  But for some reason, he failed to surpass Wright in practice and never made an impact when he saw time on the field.

Now a new day has arrived for the ‘Canes faithful—or so they hope.  Redshirt freshman Robert Marve won the Mr. Football award for the state of Florida two years ago when he won a class 4A championship with Tampa Plant.

Last year’s Mr. Football was Miami Northwestern quarterback Jacory Harris, who is also headed to Coral Gables.  He won back-to-back 6A state championships at Miami Northwestern, which finished this past year ranked No. 1 in the country after laying a beatdown on my alma mater Boone High School in the state championship game.

(I’m not even going to put the score.  If you really want to know, you can look it up.  Believe me when I say, it was bad).

Randy Shannon has already said that both youngsters will see time on the field.  Still, the head coach has made it clear that one of them will win the starting job.  They will be competing throughout the offseason to see who starts the opener.

Shannon has a pretty good dilemma in dealing with Marve and Harris.  In Marve’s senior year of high school, he broke two of Tim Tebow’s state records, throwing for 4,380 yards and 48 touchdowns.  He also completed 280 passes that year, which was another new state record.

Marve is known as a pro-style quarterback who likes to stay in the pocket.  But he has agility, which helps with his great pocket presence and also allows him to be an effective runner should he need to scramble.

Harris, on the other hand, is a dual-threat quarterback.  But I can tell you firsthand that he doesn’t rely on his legs—his arm is just fine.  (He lit up my high school’s defense in that game.)

In Harris’s senior year, he broke Marve’s record for passing touchdowns, throwing 49 on the year to go with just six interceptions, while also completing 67 percent of his passes.

Sure, Harris had weapons at wide receiver like Aldarius Johnson and Tommy Streeter, 6-feet-2 and 6-feet-5, respectively.  This coming year, Marve will be all to happy to learn how it feels to throw to them, since the top two wide receivers from Miami Northwestern are also headed to “The U."

But not even Randy Shannon knows who will be starting at quarterback for the Hurricanes’ season opener.  The head coach is a firm believer that competition breeds success.  For the sake of all the Hurricanes' faithful, let’s hope he’s correct.

Regardless, ‘Canes fans should take solace in knowing that they’ll see the past two Mr. Football award winners for the state of Florida on the field this season, both donning Miami orange and green.