As the Canes football program prepares to start the 2024 season, the team is still looking to add talent through the transfer portal. Miami has added four portal additions so far: a pair of defensive tackles, CJ Clark and Marley Cook; a safety, Savion Riley; and the best center in the portal, Indiana’s Zach Carpenter. However, the big question mark for the Canes heading into 2024 is the quarterback position. Miami currently has only two quarterbacks on the roster, Jacurri Brown and an injured Emory Williams. Miami has been looking to add veteran depth to its room and has focused specifically on the transfer portal. Now that it is January, the Canes are still without a veteran presence at quarterback. What are the top options for the Canes in the transfer portal?
Howard is one of the better quarterbacks in the portal. He may not be the most physically gifted or the one with the best skill set, but Howard gets the job done. A lethal dual-threat QB, Howard finished 2023 with:
2,643 passing yards,
24 passing TDs,
140.1 QB rating
351 rushing yards,
9 rushing TDs.
Howard led the Wildcats to the Big 12 Championship in 2022, defeating #3 TCU, who were undefeated at the time.
Initially, on his visit to Miami, Howard was impressed by Miami but left without committing. He visited USC and was rumored to have silently committed to them. Yesterday, Pete Thamel reported that Howard was indeed taking an official visit to Ohio State:
There is chatter that Howard has already silently committed to Ohio State, and it’s likely to be made public after his official visit. Despite this, it’s important to note that similar rumors circulated when Howard visited USC, yet he never committed. If Howard remains uncommitted, it would behoove Miami to continue negotiations with the gunslinger.
Nelson was the number one overall recruit in the 2023 class and was hailed as the next great quarterback to emerge from USC. However, he was injured in the spring and couldn’t play much in the 2023 season, with star quarterback Caleb Williams taking the lead. Although Nelson’s talent is evident, his lack of proven experience remains an issue. Miami has had some contact with Nelson’s camp, but from my understanding, they prefer a veteran presence in the room. Pete Thamel reported today that Boise State appears to be the leading contender to secure Nelson’s commitment.
Possibly the top prize of the portal, Salter is the best quarterback currently available. He threw for 2,876 yards, rushed for 1,089, and produced 44 total touchdowns this year. Salter previously played for Hugh Freeze at Liberty. Auburn is a top contender to land his services, but Oklahoma and Ohio State have also been involved with Salter. The Canes have also reached out. Salter can be labeled as a program changer. If the Canes decide not to concede to Auburn, they are one of the teams that can offer the quarterback one of the strongest NIL packages in the nation, alongside a returning offensive line that could easily rank in the top three nationwide. The question remains: will Miami push hard here?
Ward has been Miami’s top quarterback target from the outset. The Canes pursued Ward for weeks, offering him the opportunity to start and the most competitive NIL package of any school. Ward also took an official visit to Florida State, but the Noles were never a serious threat. The real challenge for Miami was Ward’s opportunity to enter the NFL draft. After weeks of consideration, Ward decided to declare for the draft. Interestingly, Ward has not yet hired an agent, which means he could decide to return to school. Miami has continued communicating with Ward, and if he decides to withdraw his name from the draft, Miami would once again be a prime contender to land his services. Prospects have until January 15th to declare for the NFL draft, so as of this writing, Ward would have about two weeks to decide if he intends to pull out. Throughout his career, Ward has accumulated 13,874 passing yards, 135 total touchdowns, and a 144.4 career passer rating.
Tagovailoa has been a top target for Miami since the start of this process. The initial issue was that he hadn’t entered the transfer portal. However, on January 5th, Tagovailoa made the decision to enter the portal. He is currently awaiting NCAA approval for a sixth year of eligibility. Should the NCAA grant this waiver, Miami is likely to be the frontrunner in acquiring his talents. As the Big Ten’s all-time leader in passing yards, Tagovailoa achieved this feat at Maryland, despite the team’s limited offensive resources and a weak offensive line. Over his career, he has achieved 77 touchdown passes, 11,356 passing yards, and a completion rate of 67.1%.
There are other quarterbacks in the portal, such as Jordan McCloud, Matthew Sluka, and Reese Poffenbarger. However, none of these names suggest instant game changers. While I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing in one of them to provide some competition at the position, I believe that if the above options do not materialize for the Canes, Miami should proceed into 2024 with Jacurri Brown. Brown did not play in the 2023 season as he decided to redshirt and focus on developing his game. In the bowl game against Rutgers, Jacurri Brown was very impressive. He threw for 181 yards and a touchdown, and added 57 yards and two rushing touchdowns in a losing effort. For a player who hadn’t touched the ball this year and whose only meaningful snaps were on the scout team, Brown showed composure and the ability to make plays with both his arm and legs. What would a full spring and fall camp with QB1 snaps look like for Jacurri Brown with a fully loaded Canes football team? It is undeniable that Brown has been working hard and will continue to improve if given the chance. Dawson likes dual-threat quarterbacks, and Brown is a playmaker with both his arm and legs. Miami should not reach or overpay for a portal quarterback who is not a proven veteran. If they cannot land one, they have a young talent on their team who can lead them to an eight or possibly nine-win season in 2024.
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