Eight months after nearly transferring out of the University of Miami, redshirt freshman Jarren Williams has been named the starting quarterback for the Hurricanes, UM announced Monday morning.
Williams beat out redshirt sophomores Tate Martell, who transferred from Ohio State this offseason, and N’Kosi Perry, who played in 11 games for the Hurricanes last season.
“All three guys showed tremendous improvement and development, which is a credit to their hard work and the work of Dan Enos and his offensive staff,” coach Manny Diaz said in a statement. “We believe we can win with all three guys, however, we feel like Jarren has the greatest upside due to his passing ability, his instincts and his determination.”
Williams only played in one game last season, completing 1 of 3 passes for 17 yards, and running twice for two yards and a touchdown in a 77-0 victory over Savannah State.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound signal-caller reportedly considered transferring last December because of his lack of playing time under former head coach Mark Richt.
“It means the world,” Williams said in a statement. “This is something that I’ve always strived for growing up. It’s been my dream since I was a kid. When I was six years old, I used to sit in front of the TV and watch Michael Vick play. That’s a dream I have always had and I’ve strived for it. Having the opportunity to lead this team is the opportunity of a lifetime and I am going to take full advantage of it.”
Williams, a former U.S. Army All-American and four-star recruit, shined at Central Gwinnett High in Georgia, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns and only four interceptions as a senior.
“I feel like I’m an elite passer,” Williams said. “I can make all the throws, even in tight windows. What a lot of people don’t know is that I can extend plays with my feet. I’m not a slow guy. I can tuck the ball and get 15 yards. I can make a guy miss, but I am a pass-first guy. I stand in the pocket and trust the pocket and get the ball to my receivers.”
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Diaz was not pleased with the offensive play following Saturday’s closed scrimmage. The first-year head coach said the offense received a “butt whooping” in the first half.
“Very disappointed in the way that you started to see the ‘far away’ look in some guys on the offense, things we’re trying to eradicate from our program,” Diaz said. “We had a feeling the disease wasn’t fully cured.”
Diaz said the production picked up in the second half and only specifically mentioned Williams among the quarterbacks. Williams fired a touchdown strike to sophomore tight end Will Mallory.
Williams expressed confidence on Friday leading into the second and final fall scrimmage that he would out battle Martell and Perry for the job.
“I feel like I’m a tough guy, I have a passion, I feel like I have the intangibles to really be that guy,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been doing a good job. Of course, I have mistakes here and there, but my main thing is learning from it, going back and watching what I did wrong and fixing mistakes so I don’t make the same mistakes next time.”
It remains unclear how Martell and Perry will ultimately react to the announcement, or if either will choose to transfer.
“As we move into preparation for the Florida game, we will continue the competition to determine who will serve as the backup quarterback,” Diaz said.
Martell, who played behind Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State last season, connected on 23 of 28 passes for 269 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in six appearances. Martell was the No. 2 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country coming out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas in 2017.
Perry started six games under center, rotating with Malik Rosier, who has since graduated. The Ocala, Florida native threw 13 touchdowns compared to six interceptions, only completing 50.8 percent of his pass attempts.
Miami opens up its season Aug. 24 against the Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.