Graduate quarterback D’Eriq King will start the first game of the Hurricanes’ 2021 football season versus Alabama on Sept. 4, Miami head coach Manny Diaz announced on Friday.
Suffering a torn ACL and meniscus in Miami’s bowl game on Dec. 29, King has devoted the following 7 ½ months towards rehabilitating his right knee and said it “feels fine,” after the first fall camp practice.
“That’s the only starting quarterback we have,” Diaz said. “It’s not my choice, he’s not going to let me not start him at quarterback. He’s gonna run out there the first play, it doesn’t matter who else we put out there at quarterback.”
Though he stood on the sidelines of UM’s spring game in late April, King exhilarated his teammates, coaching staff, and all who had patiently awaited the dual-threat signal caller’s return to the Greentree Practice Fields.
“It was a good feeling,” King said. “Obviously, the guys are extremely excited for me to go out there practicing. I was begging them to give me a pull read, I wanted to run the ball so bad, so I could just feel it out and it happened.”
Having led Miami in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completion percentage in his first season at UM, it had appeared as though King hadn’t missed much.
“It looked like nothing had happened,” Diaz said on King’s mobility. “You see the guy spin some of the throws in there and what I actually really liked was — and I felt like he was intentional a couple of times — he took off and he ran…You could see he wanted to go and know he could go, and back up what he had done with our training staff and our [physical therapy] staff and our strength staff in the summer.”
King restored the well-established connection with senior receiver Mike Harley, the Hurricanes’ leader in receiving yards last season.
“I think my first completion, the first play today was to Mike,” King said. “Me and him really got a good connection, it was good being out there with him. Everything felt like normal, like how it did in the season towards the end of the year, so it was really good throwing him the ball again.”
King’s 12th start of his Miami career is slated against the reigning national champions in the Alabama Crimson Tide — a team the former Maxwell Award semifinalist has never faced in his collegiate career.
“I watched them a bunch in the offseason, and I think I’ve watched every single game they had last year,” King said. “Obviously, I had a lot of down time when I was hurt, so I watched a lot of their games and I just kept watching it throughout the year.”