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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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What's up guys and gals. I used to read and post all the time on the Sentinal and honestly it fell all to sh** when O left and started doing the Fins thing.

Manny, I give you much respect for the time you put in and the articles you post...Unbelievable work man, keep it up.

How the positions play out is beyond me but I can say my excitement this year is already exceeding the past 3 years because I knew deep down in my heart as long as Kirby and Kyle were our only choices at QB, our future was doomed. Thank goodness both are gone...GOOD RIDDANCE!

My gut feeling is that Marve will start, and that Cooper will have flashes of greatness like that of Willie Mac in 2002.

I am going to go out on a limb and say I fully expect us to be IN the ACC Championship game this year. I live in Blacksburg, Va. and the buzz on campus here at Va. Tech isn't that great due to the fact VT lost sooooo many players to graduation.

Anyway CANE brothers and sisters. Keep the U up, we are on our way back to the top of the mountain in college football....


I know any of you that were at the VT/Miami game in THE OB in 02 remember everytime Willie Mac got the ball, this sh** would play...


Manny...injury updates when you get a chance please. Jermaine McKenzie, C-Mac, etc.

We need a LB feature on starters for next year ASAP. Talk about multiple posibilities!


I appreciate your articles, especially your blog. Moreso, I appreciated the reality you brought to the recruiting scene, asking the Cane fans to chill. Certainly recruiting is fun; it's a great way to socialize about college football when the games and practices are at a standstill. Yet, to take it so seriously - priorities at some point have to be realigned when we start dispensing disparaging comments about coaches, young adults, etc. because of their choices, quotes or results. You seemed to provide a good reminder of this to all through your blog on several occasions.

Was curious to know about Coach Shannon's faith, and the faith of his assistants. Do you have any idea if they are Christians or not? Doesn't change anything; am just curious. I really enjoy reading up on Mark Richt and watching his team navigate through a season, based on his and "Chappy's" Christ-centered take on the game. Was wondering if Christ plays a role in our team's season.

Thanks again for your work. It makes for nice reading throughout week.

i like ur post hoover

Manny... defense verses offense.

Perhaps the biggest advantage in 2008 is in having both, Mr Young and Mr Nix.

Starting out with Mr Young, who knows defense and has proven he knows how to stop the spread option offense used by many colleges today. In knowing how to stop the spread, he also knows the defensive pitfalls. I would expect that he and Mr Nix will be collaborating many weekends in the near future to come up with a creative play calling package, where by the loop holes of the defense and the offense alignment are discussed and how to take advantage of both of them.

IMO,... Our season rests in the hands of both coaches and how well they communicate with each other with a single thought... HOW TO WIN THE GAME !

Go Canes
Hi Five'n

I posted this on Canespace but just in case-


Good evening, I hope you all can help me out here. I received this message from Bruce Feldman of ESPN a few days ago:


I wanted to incorporate something into the blog over the next month or two. A fan component. It would be your name, the school you root for, what you do for a living and how long you’ve rooted for that school and then a point of view. For this month, I’d like you to talk about the sleeper recruit who you think will surprise people and why (in 75 words or so).


I admit to knowing very little about Miami's recruits except for what I read on the boards and Manny's articles because I live 2500 miles away in Seattle so I can't watch any of the Dade HS games and I refuse to watch grainy Youtube videos. I was hoping you all could tell me your sleeper picks with criteria being any of the signees who are not on ESPNs 150 list and look to be qualified academically for the 2008 season. I was thinking Micanor Regis because Bluestein and Navarro say he could be just as good as Forston and like the NW boys, Regis is coming from a winning school in Pahokee. I think the 2 greatest ingredients for success is being a winner and someone with a good head on their shoulders (a real student athlete).
Please post your thoughts or email me at rbleigh@verizon.net

Thanks Legion,
Russell Bradleigh

Now think about Florida, Tebooo and the spread offensive... Damn, I'm feeling better already, in knowing Mr Young has it under control and now it is a matter of control and execution...


To all... JMO
It's getting to a point that we should look the future and stop the abuse that we have shown to both past QB's. They both had their faults but not for the lack of trying. Perhaps trying too hard in some cases and not enough in others. Just remember that they were not the only ones to make mistakes. To be honest, many on the team should share part of the blame in last years losses.
Like it or not, they are both Canes. They did their best but it wasn't good enough to do the job... So let it go at that and start showing a little compassion for a departed brother Cane.
I say, lets end it here and now and look forward to the future.

A Cane, is a Cane forever, long live a Cane!

Good job Manny.


Remember when Miami's backup recievers were reliable. Ethnic Sands, Kevin Beard, etc...That is what Miami will be again with the incoming class, only better. Why? Because back then we didn't have such a competitive run for starting qb. I see Marve winning it with is arm and accuracy, but I would not be suprised to see Harris take over one day. I've seen plenty of film on Harris and he definitely looks like someone who can manage a game. As for Canon goes, I haven't had the privilage of seeing him play yet, but if he can beat out the other guys, then he is truly a diamond in the rough.


we just have to stick by whoever is the QB. Even when we are down we have to stick by our team.

Right now, it is clear that things are wide open. I'm leaning towards Harris. I like his attitude and height. This kid is a winner. Big question is how Shannon and Nix bring along all new recruits. Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman came into the program as blue chippers, but the coaching staff was never able to help them achieve the success they had at the prep level. Wright could have been an outstanding QB. He had the physical tools. Problem was he never seemed to learn the game and made poor decisions, especially at the worst times. Lets hope our new kids can rise up to make the necessary adjustments.

more preseason crap quarterback u died when ken dorsey left. since then its been nothing but hype. stop making it sound like this team has a chance. quitter coach[virginia at the ob] yes SHANNON IS A QUITTER. so he will only teach the team to quit. FIRE SHANNON

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