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Spring Forecast: Quarterback

When spring practice gets underway at the University of Miami on Feb. 26, the school once known as Quarterback U is going to experience something quite rare in its illustrious history. The Canes are going to start preparing for a season without a passer on the roster who has thrown a single ball in a college football game.

Even during UM's recent struggles after Ken Dorsey handed the duties off to Brock Berlin and Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman were in charge of leading the nation's 108th-ranked passing offense last season, the Hurricanes always managed to have at least one veteran quarterback on its roster (or somebody who at the very least played in garbage time at the collegiate level). The 2008 Hurricanes will not.

Instead, three rookies -- Robert Marve, Jacory Harris and Cannon Smith -- will Robert_marvebattle this spring to become the frontrunner to take the first snap when the Canes make their Dolphins Stadium debut against Charleston Southern on Aug. 28. So, who is going to emerge as the leader by the end of the spring? Most expect it to be Marve, a redshirt freshman who has the advantage of having been in offensive coordinator Patrick Nix's system since last summer. But after inking 33 new players to his roster on National Signing Day last Wednesday coach Randy Shannon said it will be an open race for the starting job and he expects Harris and Smith to push Marve plenty.

So, who will emerge the top dog? We won't know for sure until probably after the spring game on March 29th. But here at Eye On The U, it is always fun to speculate. Here is the first in a long line of previews/forecasts heading into the spring...

* WHO IS GONE: Kyle Wright (3-year stater graduated); Kirby Freeman (transferred to Baylor). Raise your hand if you're going to miss either of these guys?

Technically you can say Marve (6-1, 198), who was Florida's Mr. Football in 2006 at Tampa Plant High where he set the Florida state single-season records for passing yards (4,380) and touchdowns (48) and broke a 31-year old record for completions (280). But he never got a chance to play last season -- much less really practice -- after he suffered a broken wrist, dislocated ring finger and a deep cut on his non-throwing hand when he was involved in a rollover accident in July with receiver and UM teammate Jermaine McKenzie at the wheel. He's only recently begun to take normal snaps after having a final skin graft surgery on his injured hand. He will wear a protective glove on his left hand from now on.

Jacory Harris (6-4, 170) and Cannon Smith (5-11, 200) have been enrolled since January and will participate in spring drills. Signee Taylor Cook (6-7, 230) will enroll in the fall. Cannon_smithHarris went 30-0 as a starter and led Miami Northwestern to a mythical national title last season. He was selected as the EA Sports National Player of the Year and Florida's Mr. Football after completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 3,445 yards, 49 TDs and 6 INTs as a senior. Smith, the son of FedEx CEO Fred Smith, was the nation's top prep school quarterback at Hargrave Military Academy who has drawn comparisons to Drew Brees. Cook, the son of a rice farmer and member of the Texas House of Representative, is considered a raw, talented prospect. For more on Cook, I've got an audio interview with Cook I conducted on January 27th if you care to listen.

Will Jacory Harris or Cannon Smith really push Marve out of the starting role?

* HERE'S WHAT RECRUITING COORDINATOR CLINT HURTT HAD TO SAY: "That whole thing just has to play out. I know Coach Nix and Coach Shannon talk about this all the time and they'll handle this on their own. Competition makes guys better. And all of these kids bring this to the table, none of them have taken a college snap yet. We really can't wait to see what they're going to do. I think they all bring some unbelievable qualities to the table and one of these kids will turn out to be the best and we'll be better as a team for it."

* HURTT ON CANNON SMITH: "Here's what you need to know about Jacory and Cannon -- they're very competitive kids. Cannon has a lot of moxy to him. He has a swagger to him coming in the Clint_hurttdoor. That's definitely something to add to the position. I came from a prep school myself and he's going to be a little more advanced. It's not going to be as big a jump for him as it's going to be a typical kid coming out of high school. When you go to a prep school you're going up against junior college kids and you're going up against the same speed of the game of the game you'll see in college. It's not going to be quite as dramatic a change for a kid like Cannon. And the terminology is the same. In high school, they don't use the same terminology as they do at a collegiate level. At prep schools they do that a little bit more of what we do here. That will help out Cannon a lot.

* HURTT ON HARRIS: "For Jacory, coming from the caliber program he came out of at Miami Northwestern and just the competition and talent and he saw, he's not going to be the typical freshman quarterback coming in. He's an extremely intelligent kid coming in the door. I always was impressed with him on film. But I remember a bunch of us went to go watch him when they were Jacory_harrisplaying Hialeah this year. We were standing on the sideline just watching. And there was this play where he picked up the corner blitz. And instead of giving it away that he picked it up and let Hialeah check out of the blitz, he didn't give it away. As soon as he got the snap, he threw a hitch to Tommy Streeter in the corner, Streeter made a guy miss and the play went for about 45 yards. For a kid to have that kind of intelligence level and do that in high school, you know he's a special kind of guy. It's not so much what kind of arm he has. It's how he controls the game from the neck up. He has some great things going on for him and he's going to have a bright future."

* MY TAKE: I've never had a chance to watch Cannon Smith play, but I did get a chance to watch Jacory Harris go from virtual unknown as a junior at Northwestern to megastar by the end of his senior year. What has always impressed me about Jacory is that not once through that metamorphisis did he ever show me he was anything more than the same hungry, humble competititor and a tremendous leader he was when I first met him. No knock on Kirby Freeman or Kyle Wright, but being around UM the past few seasons I never got the sense players had full confidence in either quarterback. Harris has teammates who naturally gravitate toward him because he's a natural leader who is always picking his teammates up and always putting the team first. Perhaps the most amazing story I heard about Harris -- aside from the fact he called every offensive play at Northwestern his senior year -- was how after Roland Smith and the rest of Northwestern's coaching staff were fired last summer amid the Antwain Easterling fiasco, it was Harris and defensive tackle Marcus Forston who kept the heart-broken Bulls together. In the weeks before Billy Rolle was named coach, Harris and Forston organized team workouts and practices without a single coach telling them what to do. That to me is leadership, the special ingredient that keeps losing and struggling lockerrooms together.

I know Harris, who will be healthy for the start of the spring after spraining his MCL in the state championship game in December, is planning on giving Marve all he has and I fully expect him to give Marve his fiercest competition for the starting job. The fact Marve spent most of last season healing doesn't give me the confidence he has as big a lead for the job as most would expect. Ultimately, I don't think we'll come out of spring knowing for sure if Marve or Harris will be running the first team going into the fall.

* '09 RECRUITS: After signing three quarterbacks Wednesday and with four young scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, most imagine it is going to be hard for UM to sway a quarterback to sign in '09. But Hurtt tells me they're going to try and sign at least one because "you never know how things are going to work out." So, who is Miami looking at?

Canestime.com and Canesport.com have produced two early out-of-state names -- Tom Savage of  Cardinal O'Hara, Penn. and Kevin Newsome of Chesapeake West Branch, Va. Eugene_smithCanestime's Mike Bakas reports Savage (6-4, 220) has already developed a relationship with UM offensive coordinator Patrick Nix. Canesport editor Gary Ferman reported Newsome (6-2, 210), who is more of a dual-threat quarterback, grew up a Hurricanes fan. In state, the two biggest names are Tampa Plant's Aaron Murray (who took over for Marve and broke his state records) and Miramar High's 6-3, 195-quarterback Eugene Smith, who debuted at No. 1 in The Miami Herald's Pre-Spring Rankings for '09. Smith is the cousin of former Hurricane Melvin Bratton.


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yeah hope they're paying you more to do this dude. we all definitely appreciate it.

Taylor Cook FTW!

Right on Manny! I'm loving the analysis and the quotes from the big Hurtt. Congrats to him and Barrow for being named in Rival's top 25 recruiters. I'm glad to see Shannon and Co are getting on the 09 class early since we will have pressing needs at CB, TE, and OL that we'll have to work to fill. Can't wait for the Spring Game and beyond to see who emerges. There are always pleasant surprises (like Franklin and Morse last year and Fox the year before that). Thanks again Manny for your first rate reporting and dedication to the U family.

I just wish we would get off of Kyle's back. He was not the headest (sp?) at times, but he hung in there and fought with all the crap for talent around him. He is a graduate and alum and should be supported. Kirby is a different story pile-on.

I just wish we would get off of Kyle's back. He was not the headest (sp?) at times, but he hung in there and fought with all the crap for talent around him. He is a graduate and alum and should be supported. Kirby is a different story pile-on.

we got some canes over here!

hey hoover.....suck on these! THEY BOTH SUCKED BIG TIME!

Thanks Manny!

You're the best.

I vote for Jacory. I think the receivers are secretly rooting for him.

Way to go Manny. Thanks for the updates and keep them coming.

MAnny- You do everyone who loves the CANES a great service. You articles are insightful and to-the-point! Tremendous job. Here in Fo-town (Fort Myers)we appreciate the job you do.

Questions: What's the truth on Patrick Johnson's rumors that he changed his mind about LSU last minute, asked UM to take him, and was told no, and what about the rumors of someone in his family asking (in so many words) for some form of pay-out in order to commit to UM?

Finally, I'd like to say that With these young QBs the future is bright for the canes. Regardless, we cannot do any worse than those MAJOR BUSTS Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman. BUSTS BUSTS BUSTS! While they are young men, and me saying that sounds mean, what many in the blogging world who have defended them don't realize is that they had their chances to prove themselves as quality Qbs. The won a couple of games, here and there, but when it REALLY counted- eg. KW against FSU twice!, KW against GaTech three times! KW/KF against NC, NCst, Virginia, and Va TEch, my gosh, they blew it. Big time, and they proved one thing: They DID NOT BELONG! IMAGINE EITHER OF THE TWO IN AN SEC SCHEDULE WITH ALL OF THAT SPEED? IT WOULD HAVE BEEN WORSE OR THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN BENCHED EARLIER IN THERI CAREERS! DO YOU THINK EITHER OF THEM COULD HAVE MADE IT BIG SAY, AT USC OR TEXAS? NOT!

Manny with the strong Jacory Harris lean...

What about the 2-3 QB system? Spring practice is good and all, but only game action will provide a true opportunity to evaluate. Why not let everyone play in the first half of the season.

Manny love the blog this is the "dog days of spring" so we love the info you got coming. Next up the WR's and LB's we got to hear about them


Those guys were busts, no arguement from me. But don't be surprised when Kyle Wright ends up on an NFL roster. Some coach out there is going to think he can turn Kyle into a QB.

Anyone willing to bet a big Joe Robbie beer the first game of the season?

Thanks Manny.

speaking of tight ends, there is a guy up here in lynchburg,va named logan thomas. he's 6'6 215 and runs a 4.6. he also has a 3.4 gpa. he will be a senior next year. he plays qb and safety. The "U" has already chit chatted with him. His dad is a big canes fan as well. inside scoop is he likes to play receiver best. already has a long list of D-1 schools lining up. check on rivals to see more!

I agree with canesjunkie. Wright has more physical talent than any recent qb and though not nearly on par with dorsey mentally, he made better decisions than berlin, for the most part. He'll land a backup role somewhere.

Oh and thanks manny! you make these lull spring days tolerable. And as always, your reporting is extraordinary!

Do you think Cook will be redshirted?

Patrick Johnson will regret not coming to UM, he will not see the field at LSU in his first two years. Robert Marve will win the Job and Jacoby will be his backup. The kid has an arm and its very intelligent. He reminds me of Craig Erickson, just bigger and faster.

THE U, go Canes!!!!!!!!!

Great work as always Manny!

I won't be re-watching any of his games or anything, but I cannot think of another QB who got jobbed more than Kyle Wright did. 3 OC's, 2 head coaches, 3 wide receiver recruits and none of them good, and no OL. JAime mentioned coming up small against FSU, but if I remember correctly he was on his butt most of those games (some his fault, but the receivers weren't open nonetheless), and I remember a 4th down play bouncing off the hands of wide-open Sam Shields on the final drive of one of those games. I remember him engineering the game winning drive in his first game against FSU and us not being able to run it in despite 1st and goal from the 5, and then fumbling the field goal attempt. How is that his fault?...he drove the entire field at the end of that game.

Look, I won't miss him either, but he just happened to be the QB when the U went into the toilet. Kind of hard to develop that way. I expect him to catch on in the NFL and have a Brad Johnson (who never started for FSU...backed up Weldon) type career.

These new QB's are lucky they signed on when the U is on the rise. I can't wait to see who wins.

If we don't put up some points in the Spring game this year I believe it will be another long year for the offense. If it's another 7-0 or 10-7 type spring game and we hear oh we're not showing much and just being vanilla etc. etc., we're in trouble.

Every other team puts up points during the Spring game. I believe whoever is the starting qb this year will definately be an upgrade over those two clowns we've had the past 3 years. I'm just saying if we start hearing excuses for why the offense didn't do much during the Spring game that won't be a good sign.
Hopefully both Marve and Harris will light it up and the coaches won't be so conservative. So let it rip Nix and Shannon don't hold these kids back let them have fun and build some confidence.

Manny great write up as always.

I vote Marve. Basically because even though he was injured the college game still won't be as much of a change. Both QBs are going to push each other, no doubt. I can't wait till the spring game.

Manny, can Xavier Shannon play this year or does he have to sit out per NCAA rules?

does anyone know the name of jordan futchs cousin sounds like wants to play for miami

Great Blog Manny

Who do you think will emerge this year with (The Boss) previous class07?

Yes this class of 08 is one of a kind but lets be a little realistic here some of these boyz are going to have 2 beef up n learn the system but we will have some that will meet the field early due to dedication n hard pratice and beating there Competition.

Here the picks i think will emerge this season from the class before

The List
Lee Chambers
Shawnbery McNeal
Damien Berry
Leonard Hankerson
Jermaine Mckenzie
Adewale Ojomo- Believe he's going to have a Big
Allen Bailey-also i think he have a big year

"Hassan" (sleeper) pick - 6'9 320lbs Class06 Ian Symonette ''The Breast'' hurt by injury

U all welcome to leave your thoughts


xavier shannon is eligible to play this year and will be the starting center.
are you really serious about spring football? what if the offense pours it on in
the closed door scrimmages? does that not count? or is the one that counts, is the one that you get to watch, which is the least important to the coaching staff. spring games are held simply to appease the fan base.

Jordan Futch cousin name is Jason Douglas
5'8 170lbls 4.36speed plays defensive back, punt returner n slot receiver

His a big canes fan

You arent messing around Manny! Keep up the good work and thanks.

MAnnn i got to watch this kid Kevin Newsome from viginia his fastttt i know the U is not into running QB but he's to good not to give him a shot at it. His a Dual threat type but he's dangerous from the looks of the highlights he run the same offense texas do when Vince Young was there, that might be a problem since UM is not into the option type offense but lets see what we can do its a New Era anything can happen.

Manny, fantastic work. Thank god you're around because the Sentinel has gone to shit since Omar moved on. Again, you are the best free source on the web. Keep up the great work.

I say they,the new guys coming in need to learn what system? On offense, I did not realize that the U had an offensive system. If they did trash it, starte over and that puts everyone even in learning a real new system , noone should be behind in fact the ones that do not have to unlearn whatever it was we have had on O since coker destroyed the O with fear to do anything and hope the D saved his ase. Anyway bring on a totally new O that can put pts on the board,, back to the real U on O.

wow 72 % for marve, manny great work, thanks for all the info. , quick question do any of the qbs redshirt? muchas gracias por la ayuda

one more, how many people in hear believe we beat gayturds in the swamp of gaysville?

Marve is the biggest underdog favorite. LOL Marve the marvelous has thrown in practice with the scout team and have well for that time. Marve is just as competitive as the newbies and is also a student of the game.

I wish we can redshirt one or two of the QBs cause they are all that capable.

I think we have to have insurance against injuries and off field behavior. Wish Marve started last year!

Now is the perfect time to go to a new offense, I think Marve and Harris both ran spead offensives in HS so they are probably more used to that than any other system. Freshman qt will starte so do not delay with a new offense. It is not like the U would be giving up something good to try something untried on offensive. We are loaded with new talent give them something that will produce pts. Nix.

In all the videos I saw on Jacory, he was always in the shotgun formation. I remember how hard it was for Brock Berlin to get under center, and I hope we don't have the same issues with Jacory.

I'm confident one of the qb's will step up to the challenge. There are alot of examples of freshmen qb's leading teams to wins so I don't think we should be concerned. We may not go 12-0, but we have a lot of talent... I am more worried about Nix's play calling...

We should show a spread offense because we've got the talent now. The problem with the spread offense is that it limits the ability to hit long pass plays. Its more geared towards short slant type of throws...its good because you give playmakers a chance to do their thing, but its difficult to run the ball and protect for longer routes.

Spread offense? Spread offense? Bite your tongue son. Spread offenses are for team who don't have consistent paymakaz. UM never played a spread offense and shouldnt start now. Pat White is a QB in west Va who ONLY could play in a spread offense. Same with T-bone. The spread is a mickey mouse foo foo type way of playing. It's girly football.

Reggae Bob and Chicago cane are mesmerized by Kyle Wright. Listen sons- A ral Qb would have won the game at FSU when we were on the 1 yard line and not gotten sacked as he dropped back. A real Qb would not have been sacked 9 times against GTech. He was duuuuuuuuuuumb, couldnt read blitzes, couldnt read defense packages and couldntthrow the ball away-he either threw ints or got sacked. Pleeeaasse!

Great job as always Manny. What is the news for the kicking game, which seemed non-existent last year?

I foresee a 2 QB system with maybe a 65/35 split. Unless one of them faults or one of them gets hurt. Too much talent with optional play calling by Nix to sit either one down. For me it is Marve as leader and Smith or Harris as active second fiddle.

Other advantage would be keeping 2nd QB active and Hot just in case Marve needs a break. Another advantage is that it keeps the other teams defense honest and off balance, as I believe all three are capable of running same plays from both Pro and Spread packages. now, throw in a QB option play for Marve and/or Smith to run and watch defenses start scrambling, saying "What the ...."!

As much as I like Jacory, he may need time to gain weight and beef up. It's alot different when a 320 pounder hits ya full speed.

Nix, must be smiling at his options to come! He finally has a team to build by.

Just hang'n

Simply put, Manny, you are the best at what you do.

I vote Manny....

Sweet! It's gonna be fun debating why two guys should get to start instead of why two guys should be benched

Manny as we speak, can you give us an update on injuries to Marve, Harris,Cook and other players...

Are the 3 QB at 100%? How about Collin?

What is the nature of Cook's injury?

Is Jacory putting up some weights?

Thanks Manny!

Manny - nice work. Solar, last year it was the Kyle - Kirby drama, remember and everyone was oh so happy to have Kirby start the first 2 games. And then live at the tarpit watching Kyle. Tht whole scenario went sideways quick! LOL!
Manny thanks for the compliment and I will post the link for this over at Canespace.

We have a VERY young team next year. Hopefully we can be like last year's Georgia. But hey guys look at the young guys like Marve (RS Frosh), Coop (Soph), Forston (Frosh, Aldarius Johnson (Frosh), Streeter (Frosh), Arthur Brown (Frosh), Brandon Harris (Frosh), Ramon Buchanan (Frosh)...Those guys WILL develop and after they've started a few yrs in the system I'd say we will most definitely be in the hunt for Ring #6. And I think James will stay all 4 years b/c Coop takes some carries away from him. We shouldn't lose more than 3-4 gms next year. No more losing to bottom feeders like NC St. or UNC...(FSU, UF, and VT should pose as the only threats) Ken Dorsey emerged as an underclassmen and so did Kosar...I'm not saying Marve will be Joe Montana his Freshman yr. but he is capable of a 2500 yd 19 TD 8 pick kind of year..And although Cane fans will be grumbling about how young we are next year, we'll all be celebrating in 2-3 years when these guys have experience and such. Go Canes you can't keep us down long!!

Oh yeah and everyone is raving about Forston, Harris, and Brown. I DO think they will emerge BUT I am most pleased about getting Buchanan on signing day. Seeing pics of him he is ripped man..PERFECT for Strong Safety one day. Rivals named him the #1 hardest hitter. I'm gonna look forward to watching Cookie play at the U.

Thanks Manny good post. I do think that Marve will end up starting but for some reason in the back of my mind I have a feeling that Harris could do it. I don't want to count out Smith or Cook either I think everyone has the potential to push it. Thanks for your hard work.

Oh, and one more thing Kyle Wright will not end up on an NFL roster. He just doesn't have it guys. I admire his heart but he just sucks at football.

And I hate Freeman he just sucks.


Great job Manny...gosh I appreciate you doing this for Canenation...

Nice interview Manny. You do all Cane fans a big service with your work, and it is definitely appreciated. (As many have already stated.)

I wish we had signed more big hogs this year for the O-line. We need some depth there, as we ALWAYS seem to have injured O-linemen.

I'm leaning toward Jacory at this point... he has proven he KNOWS the game. (Wish he would put on some more quality pounds though.) But, I truly think that he and Marve could BOTH have "packages" to each get plenty of playing time.

This is the year we find out if Nix is ready, or not... NO MORE QB EXCUSES!

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