Two things became clear about Miami's quarterback battle by the end of spring. The first is that Jack Allison wasn’t winning the job, and he has since announced plans to transfer. The second is that no one else would officially secure the top spot until N'Kosi Perry had his shot this fall.
The latter development is an interesting one, in part because the notion of a team hoping to contend for a division title turning over QB duties to a freshman who won’t arrive until this summer seems unlikely, but also because Perry is such a departure from the typical QB culture -- both at Miami and for head coach Mark Richt.
Perry, who is wiry (6-foot-4 and just 178 pounds) and quick, has drawn some comparisons to Louisville's Lamar Jackson for his athleticism and big arm mixed with limited refinement of his skill set.
That is all to say, there’s some excitement about Perry’s potential at Miami, but also some enthusiasm that perhaps Richt and the program are turning over a new leaf.
“We’re not saying we're going to a quarterback run game; that's not the case at all,” Richt said. “We just want the ability to make sure whoever is back there can move well. That's part of the criteria of what we're looking for.”
To say that’s hasn’t been a critical part of Miami’s or Richt’s criteria in the past is putting it mildly. In Richt’s 15 seasons at Georgia, only once did he have a quarterback run for more than 200 yards (D.J. Shockley in 2005, the last time the Bulldogs won the SEC title). Even discounting yards lost to sacks, only Arkansas and USC have fewer rush yards from their quarterbacks over the past decade among Power 5 schools.
Mobility from the QB simply hasn’t been a big part of the game plan -- until now.
“I’m not going to put it ahead of a guy’s ability to process information, make decisions and throw the football,” Richt said, “but if he can do all that and run like a deer? That’s a blessing.”
There’s little doubt about Perry’s arm. He had 56 passing touchdowns and just six interceptions as a junior and senior, but his skill set is raw. Still, Richt was intrigued enough with Perry from the outset to make him a top priority of this recruiting class, and he’s remained optimistic that the current QB race will involve the incoming freshman.
That’s not to say Richt is rewriting the playbook to accommodate a guy with mobility, but after taking heat at Georgia for ignoring dual-threat QBs like Deshaun Watson on the recruiting trail, Richt seems to be embracing the idea that the ability to run can be a valuable asset in combination with the rest of the tools he looks for in a quarterback.
“I’m still going to teach the same things, and he still has to be a good decision maker and good passer,” Richt said. “But it’s nice to just drop back, they cover everybody, and you take off running.”