Al Golden picks true freshman to be Miami’s starting QB

9 Comments

Ryan Williamsoffseason injury paved the way for a true freshman to become the starting quarterback of the Miami Hurricanes.

Brad Kaaya will be the starter,” Miami head coach Al Golden told the Miami Herald‘s Susan Miller Degnan. “Jake (Heaps) understands exactly what he needs to do in terms of getting ready and supporting Brad, and Brad knows that the competition is going to continue.

“We’ve got a long way to go in terms of the season. There’s competition at every position.”

It comes as a surprise for Golden to name Kaaya the starter. The freshman wasn’t an early enrollee, while Heaps was a senior transfer. It wasn’t too long ago Heaps was considered the favorite to win the job. In a close competition, though, the younger player usually gets the nod.

“It was a tight battle,” Golden stated. “It was a battle that none of us, including you guys, could have foresaw at the end of June or beginning of July or maybe even at the beginning of camp. I’m excited about that position.”

Kaaya was considered a four-star recruit and ranked by Rivals.com as the eighth-best quarterback prospect in the nation. While Heaps had an advantage in experience, he didn’t clearly outplay Kaaya. At 6-4 and 206 pounds, Kaaya fits the mold as a traditional pocket passer to play in Golden’s system.

“He’s really maturing,” Golden said. “We’re putting him in a tough environment every day in terms of the music [UM blasts at practice]. I think the biggest thing now is to get him to… because we don’t have our whole offense in for the opener, he’ll improve by leaps and bounds in the next three or four days.”

The most interesting aspect of Golden’s decision is how the coach handles the situation moving forward. Golden already stated the competition will continue. Kaaya isn’t guaranteed anything beyond starting the season opener. If and when Kaaya struggles, Golden may quickly switch to Heaps.

There is also the question of what happens if Kaaya embraces the position and how the Hurricanes move forward with a recovering Williams and improved Kevin Olsen champing at the bit to start in 2015.

But Kaaya has to prove himself first. The freshman already gained the trust of his coaches. It’s now time to prove he can make plays during live game action.

“If he wasn’t here for 13 weeks before preseason camp plus three now, I don’t think we would be having this conversation,” Golden said. “That combined with the fact that he made incredible sacrifices personally, and he’s smart, and he’s disciplined. He is one of those guys that got better incrementally every day so here we are.”

And a trip to Louisville to open the season against a Cardinals’ defense, which was ranked No. 1 overall last season, is as tough as it gets for an 18-year old quarterback making his first start as collegiate quarterback.
(Photo courtesy of the University of Miami athletic department)

Tulane officially adds Oklahoma State transfer LB Kevin Henry

Oklahoma State football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

One of the nearly dozen Oklahoma State football players who entered the transfer portal this cycle has found a new collegiate home.

Thursday, Tulane announced that Kevin Henry has officially been added to the program’s roster.  As the linebacker left the Oklahoma State football team as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play for the AAC team immediately in 2020.

The upcoming season will serve as Henry’s final year of eligibility.  Henry had previously been awarded a sixth season from the NCAA after taking a redshirt as a true freshman and then missing all but one game of 2017 because of a torn ACL.

A three-star member of the Oklahoma State football Class of 2015, Henry was rated as the No. 25 safety in the country.  He was also the No. 20 player regardless of position in the state of Louisiana.  Only one signee on the defensive side of the ball in OSU’s class that year, defensive tackle Darrion Daniels, was rated higher than Henry.

Daniels, incidentally, ultimately finished up his collegiate playing career at Nebraska after transferring to the Cornhuskers in December of 2018.

During his time in Stillwater, Henry played in a total of 36 games, including a dozen appearances this past season.  He started one of those three-dozen games, Oklahoma State football’s Liberty Bowl win over Missouri following the 2018 regular season.

In those appearances, Daniels was credited with 51 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble, one quarterback hit and one pass defensed.

Texas A&M officially hires assistant who was at Florida State for a month

Texas A&M football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Texas A&M football has officially pilfered Mike Norvell‘s first Florida State coaching staff.

Dec. 28, Norvell announced that he was bringing TJ Rushing along with him from Memphis.  Nearly a month later, and after reports had it headed in that direction for the last week or so, A&M confirmed that Jimbo Fisher has hired Rushing as defensive backs coach.

Rushing had not officially signed a contract at FSU. As a result, he will not owe that school any type of buyout.

“TJ has an outstanding track record of playing, teaching and developing quality defensive backs,” the Texas A&M football head coach said in a statement. “He is a tireless worker, an outstanding recruiter and he coaches with a lot of fire and enthusiasm. He will make a great addition to our coaching staff.”

The past two seasons, Rushing, who played his college football at Stanford, was Norvell’s defensive backs coach at Memphis. He was also the Tigers’ passing-game coordinator.

From 2016-17, he was the defensive backs coach at Arizona State.  He just missed working with Norvell on that staff as well.

Rushing started his coaching career as a graduate assistant (2012) and defensive quality control coach (2013) at his alma mater. His first on-field job came as cornerbacks coach at Northern Arizona in 2014.  In 2015, he was a defensive assistant at Stanford.

Rushing is the second assistant Fisher has added to his coaching staff in as many days.  Yesterday, Tyler Santucci was hired by A&M as linebackers coach.  Santucci had spent the 2019 season in the same job at Wake Forest.

Fisher still has one hole on his staff to fill.  Earlier this month, tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley took a job with Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. In addition to tight ends coach, Finley will also be passing-game coordinator.

Oregon State confirms additions of transfers from Florida State, Washington, Air Force

Oregon State football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ahead of National Signing Day 2020, the Oregon State football roster has officially been bolstered.

Earlier this month, it was reported that wide receiver transfers from Florida State (HERE) and Washington (HERE), Tre'Shaun Harrison and Trey Lowe, respectively, were set to transfer into the Oregon State football program.  Thursday night, the school confirmed the transfer pair’s addition to the roster.

Additionally, OSU announced that offensive lineman Joe Quillin has signed with the Pac-12 program as well.

It’s expected that all three transfer additions will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  That would then leave Harrison and Lowe with two years of eligibility to use beginning in 2021, while Quillen would have three.

A four-star 2018 signee, Harrison was rated as the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Washington. Harrison was originally committed to Oregon before flipping and following Willie Taggart to FSU.

In 2019, Harrison caught 27 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.  He was third on the Seminoles in both catches and yards.  All told, he totaled 355 yards and the two touchdowns on his 35 receptions.

Lowe was a four-star member of the Huskies’ 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Oregon. As a senior in high school, he was the 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year recipient for the state of Oregon

The Portland product played in the last two games of his true freshman season. Lowe dealt with an unspecified infection during summer camp and did not appear in any games this past season.

Quillen went to Air Force as a defensive tackle, and took a redshirt for his true freshman season in 2019.  The lineman attended Portland’s Jesuit High School and was teammates with Lowe.

RB Bradrick Shaw granted sixth season, won’t use it at Wisconsin

Wisconsin Badgers football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Wisconsin Badgers football program annually churns out highly-productive running backs. Friday, however, one of their current backs has taken the first step to being a former back.

On his personal Twitter account, Bradrick Shaw confirmed that he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA thanks to a medical hardship waiver.  The back won’t be using that additional season with the Wisconsin Badgers football team, however, as Shaw further announced that he is entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.

Shaw, who has already earned two degrees from the university, will be immediately eligible to play for another FBS school in 2020.

“At this point in my life and my football career, it is best for me to pursue opportunities to play football elsewhere,” Shaw wrote. “I will forever be a Badgers and cherish these awesome memories for the rest of my life!”

Shaw came to the Wisconsin Badgers football team as a three-star 2015 signee.  He was rated as the No. 16 player regardless of position in the state of Alabama.  The back took a redshirt as a true freshman, then missed the entire 2018 season because of a knee injury.

In 2016, Shaw was third on the Badgers in rushing with 457 yards and tied for second in rushing touchdowns with five.  The following season, his 365 yards and four scores were both second behind Jonathan Taylor‘s 1,977 and 13 as a true freshman.

Coming off the injury, Shaw ran for 116 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in 2019.  All told, Shaw carried the ball 202 times for 938 yards and 10 touchdowns during his time with the Badgers.

Shaw’s social-media announcement comes exactly three weeks after Taylor confirmed he will be leaving UW early for the 2020 NFL Draft.  With the departures of Taylor and Shaw, the Badgers’ leading returning rushers in 2020 will be freshman Nakia Watson (331 yards) and junior Garrett Groshek (194).  UW also has a commitment from four-star 2020 running back Jalen Berger.