Posted on: August 25, 2009 4:23 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2009 5:11 am

What's going on in Miami?

With the news of not one, but two University of Miami quarterbacks transferring, that makes three quarterbacks to depart under Randy Shannon in the last eight months, four if you go back more than a season when fifth-year senior Kirby Freeman left for Baylor.

It's not unheard of for backup quarterbacks to transfer, but two on one day? What the heck is going on in the Gables?

First off, everybody knows the job is now Jacory Harris', he earned it last year by outplaying the since-departed Robert Marve (in addition to keeping a cleaner slate off the field). So in that regard, these quarterbacks leaving doesn't mean much. But these two, Taylor Cook and Cannon Smith, figured to be the primary backups this season. But all three guys came in under the same recruiting class, so all along it seemed inevitible one of them would transfer at some point. All that's odd is the timing, two weeks before the start of the season.

After Shannon named Cook the No. 2 guy out of spring practice, the situation seemed to be going as most expected. That was until fall camp started and true freshman A.J. Highsmith -- son of Hurricanes great Alonso Highsmith -- reopened the battle for the backup.

From all reports -- and there aren't many, Shannon keeps doors so tightly shut on his program that David Blaine would have a hard time escaping -- Highsmith was performing the best of the backups despite attending his senior prom a few months ago. The writing apparently was on the wall and the two guys decided to head for greener pastures. And suddenly, there's a lot of concern about Miami's quarterback situation ... again.

But hold the phone. Miami's situation today is no different than it was yesterday. Either way, if Harris were to go down for whatever reason, Miami would be in a real pickle, no matter which QB is stepping in as a replacement. From the sounds of things, it would have been Highsmith in that role regardless if Smith and Cook were still in the program. So essentially, we might be talking about third- and fourth-string guys here. We don't know definitively that's the case, but in Camp Shannon, all we have is program and player chatter.

Some are claiming things smell fishy. Perhaps. They see a 6-7 QB with good measurables being passed up by a 6-0 true frosh, and leaving on the same day as another signal caller. I get it. But keep in mind classes start at the University of Miami on Wednesday, so these guys bolting at the same time makes a little more sense, there was an apparent reason for the timing.

What happened between now and the spring when Cook was the obvious No. 2? Easy, Highsmith wasn't in the equation at that time. Remember, Cook might have been highly regarded as a recruit, but that was based largely around his physical attributes and much less about his play. As a senior, he completed just 48.4% of his passes and had one INT for every 11 completions.

Add in new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple and it becomes a little more clear. Under Patrick Nix, Miami was running a hybrid spread offense -- in all honesty, they never had any identity. With Whipple, the 'Canes are headed back to a pro-style offense and, despite his size, Cook is more suited to a spread attack. He runs well for a big man.

So when the dust settles in Coral Gables, two quarterbacks are out of the picture and the only real concern here is the depth. If the No. 1 goes down, Miami's in trouble. If No. 2 is out, then they're up the creek without a paddle. But who isn't at that point? Outside of perhaps USC, who has a one-time top-rated recruit at third string, every team is in trouble then.

The only problem I see now is finding somebody to run the scout team.
Category: NCAAF
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