Back Jarren Williams to Lead Miami

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Jarren Williams to Lead Miami

By Dave Holcomb
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Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz announced Monday that redshirt freshman Jarren Williams would be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1 against the Florida Gators.

The decision is in, and Tate Martell isn’t going to like it.

Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz announced Monday that redshirt freshman Jarren Williams would be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1 (or is it Week 0?) against the Florida Gators. This announcement has ramifications beyond Williams being behind center when the season starts in a week and a half.

It means Tate Martell, who transferred from Ohio State to Miami during the offseason and won an appeal with the NCAA to become immediately eligible, has suffered another unfortunate blow to his career and could seek to transfer again. Martell wasn’t at practice Monday, so rumors of him re-entering the transfer portal are running rampant, but he is expected to return to practice Tuesday.

The way the Hurricanes changed signal callers last year, though, this might not be the end of the Miami quarterback competition. Perhaps if Martell just keeps his complaining to a minimum and continues working hard in practice, he’ll get his shot?

Actually, no, the usual cliches probably aren’t going to work this time for Martell. Based on the comments from Diaz, this decision seems pretty permanent, which means Martell might be better off transferring yet again.

Diaz didn’t specifically address Martell during his announcement Monday, but his comments on Williams support the theory that he is going to stay away from giving Martell another shot to start.

“To me, that’s all part of it. That’s the nature of the position. You want one guy,” Diaz said according to The Miami Herald. “I think I said for a long time we’ve been needing a guy to be our quarterback at Miami instead of going back and forth, so the team can rally around and that the fan base can rally around. Now look -- we’re going to be young, but that’s okay because we think the world of Jarren (Williams). We think we’ve got a guy we can rally behind, and let’s go do it.”

The phrases “rally around” and “we’re going to be young” seem to be the most damning for Martell.

Remember, Diaz received pretty distinct perspective of the Miami quarterback situation the last couple years. As the Hurricanes defensive coordinator, he orchestrated a unit that was Top 3 in the country in takeaways during 2017 and then among the Top 2 in the ACC in just about every meaningful defensive category last season, and yet, the team has gone 7-9 in their last 16 games.

Coming from a defensive background, Diaz isn’t searching for the next Trevor Lawrence (if he was, he wouldn’t find him in the Miami quarterback room anyway). Sure, he’d take the next Lawrence, but right now, the Hurricanes have a defense that can lead them to a division title this fall.

Diaz, as the former defensive coordinator, should realize this better than anyone. Giving the defense one quarterback to “rally around” and play for is what he’s doing for his team.

“What separated Jarren is just Jarren -- his arm talent is obviously very, very good, and I think there’s some instinctual things in terms of understanding the position and quarterbacking,” Diaz said. “Just really having a great feel of where to go with the ball, and I think determination and toughness won out.”

In other words, yes, Williams has a great arm and is tough, but he gives Miami the best chance to win defensively. By understanding “quarterbacking” Williams can limit his mistakes and not place the Miami defense in bad situations.

Theoretically, Miami could still be young with Martell as quarterback, but that comment coming after Diaz’s support of Williams seems to indicate that the redshirt freshman is going to have a long leash. The phrase “we’re going to be young” isn’t thrown around for teams or players expecting to have success all of the time, but it usually signifies that coaches are willing to take the lumps with starting “young and inexperienced” players.

All of those are negative things for Martell. He might have to hope for a terrible start to Williams’ career to get on the field at Miami.

That’s not at all what Martell was expecting when he transferred to Miami this past offseason. Martell played fairly well at Ohio State with limited chances, but he fled the Buckeyes when former 5-star prospect Justin Fields chose Ohio State with his own transfer from Georgia.

Fields and Martell, who is a former 4-star prospect, both received immediate eligibility from the NCAA. When that happened, it was all but assumed Martell would start for the Hurricanes this fall, but he struggled mightily during the spring game and a competition ensued.

Martell has three years left of eligibility but is now facing the tough decision of whether or not to leave another school.

While nothing is ever written in stone, the Hurricanes appear content to win or lose with Williams as their quarterback in 2019.