Miami Hurricane football fans, raise your hand if you predicted Ohio State Buckeyes transfer Tate Martell or former Hurricanes starter N’Kosi Perry as the starting quarterback for the season opener against the Florida Gators.
Raise your hand if you predicted redshirt freshman Jarren Williams as the starter.
My hand is raised.
With the season opener against the Gators less than two weeks away, Miami named former ESPN300 recruit Williams its starting quarterback on Monday. The move comes as a bit of a surprise to some but not all including me, as Williams beat out former starter Perry and Buckeyes transfer Martell for the job.
I predicted Williams would be a starter sooner than later the moment he put pen to paper signing his intention to join “The U,” when former coach Mark Richt stood in his living room.
“We believe we can win with all three guys,” head coach Manny Diaz said in a statement shared by the to the team. “However, we feel like Jarren has the greatest upside due to his passing ability, his instincts, and his determination.”
I have changed my mind several times; however, when coach Diaz spoke after a scrimmage, Williams is the one quarterback who he mentioned. Jarren has been trending in the right direction all camp. Williams transformed his body by losing 15 pounds, running approximately 20 miles per hour during sprints and the assistant coaches were impressed across the board on his improvements.
Diaz added the “disease,” is still around. That leads me to believe he wanted change leading me to believe Perry would not be the starter making the quarterback battle down to Williams and Martell as one of the favorites.
“All three guys showed tremendous improvement and development, which is a credit to their hard work and the work of Dan Enos and his offensive staff,” Diaz added.
Finding a quarterback was a top priority for Diaz, who was the team’s defensive coordinator last year and hired as head coach after Mark Richt retired in December.
Last year’s Hurricanes finished with a 7-6 record, despite one of the nation’s best defenses, due in large part to a rotation at QB between Perry and Malik Rosier, neither of whom met the standards and expectations. Martell transferred from Ohio State in February after the Buckeyes brought in Justin Fields from Georgia, and the NCAA granted Martell immediate eligibility.
Martell was rated the No. 6 dual-threat QB in the country coming out of high school in 2017, but he never found a role in Columbus and, while Diaz praised Martell’s off-field work ethic, he was unable to beat out Williams for the Miami job.
The hype was always on Williams, a Georgia native, redshirted throughout last year’s QB struggles, but at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds with functional mobility, he was Miami’s best combination of size and athleticism.
“I feel like I’m an elite passer,” Williams said. “I can make all the throws, even in tight windows. What a lot of people don’t know is that I can extend plays with my feet. I’m not a slow guy. I can tuck the ball and get 15 yards. I can make a guy miss, but I am a pass-first guy. I stand in the pocket and trust the pocket and get the ball to my receivers.”
Williams nearly transferred from “The U,” eight months ago. Williams only played in one game last season with restriction — a 77-0 win over Savannah State. Williams kept faith in his dream.
“It means the world,” Williams said in a statement. “This is something that I’ve always strived for growing up. It’s been my dream since I was a kid. When I was six years old, I used to sit in front of the TV and watch Michael Vick play. That’s a dream I have always had, and I’ve strived for it. Having the opportunity to lead this team is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am going to take full advantage of it.”
Williams has been named “a commander,” in practice since being named the starter.
Miami hopes Williams can help a passing offense that was Miami’s worst in more than a decade. Last season they were 108 of 130 bowl subdivision teams in passing yards.
The Hurricanes are underdogs when they open the season against rival Florida, August 24. They are coming off a season-ending 35-3 loss to Wisconsin in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Raise your hand if you predicted there was a need for “a commander” all last season.