Since the 2003 season, every Miami Hurricanes quarterback has been compared to one guy. All players to go under center for “The U” have tried to live up to the insane standard Ken Dorsey set from 1999 to 2002.
The last 16 seasons have shown it isn’t an easy task to do what Dorsey did, but it has also shown that, sometimes, it’s tough to even accomplish half of what he did. Where do some of the quarterbacks rank over the past 16 seasons since he graduated?
First and foremost, what did they have to follow?
Dorsey ended his career with an overall record of 38-2 and a national championship in 2001 (really 39-1 and two national championships). He finished atop many passing categories, including yards and touchdowns with his 9,565 yards and 86 touchdowns, though the yardage record has since been broken.
He also finished in the top five of Heisman Trophy voting twice, including a third-place finish in 2001. He was surrounded by an insane amount of talent during his college career, but there was never a point where he wasn’t taking advantage of that talent.
Along with his wins, yardage and touchdowns, another one of his best statistics is his touchdown to interception ratio. In his time in a Hurricanes uniform, he threw 28 interceptions compared to his 86 scores. He threw 3.07 touchdowns for every interception he threw. For comparison, of the starting quarterbacks since him, only one has ended their career over 2.0.
I won’t be ranking every quarterback that has thrown a pass for Miami over the past 16 seasons. There is no way of really knowing where Derrick Crudup, Ryan Williams, or Jake Heaps would sit among the quarterbacks because they didn’t play very much during their time in Coral Gables, Florida.
I also won’t be putting N’Kosi Perry in this because I don’t think we have seen enough from him yet since he has pretty much only played half a season.
There will be three different tiers for the eight quarterbacks who have started games for the Hurricanes over the past 16 seasons. The last category will be tough since the quarterbacks in that group could probably go in any order, but I will explain why I think they go in the order I have them in.
Records as a starter isn’t going to be one of the biggest factors in this list. Yes, wins are important, but there has been no consistency and Dorsey himself could have played on some of these teams and not completely changed seasons. Even Dorsey couldn’t have overcome a Mark D’Onofrio defense and won 10 games.
Tier 1: Transfers
The guys in this group eventually transferred because they weren’t getting the playing time they thought they deserved. They each started games but didn’t really perform up to the level they were recruited to play at. I didn’t put these two players in the last two spots just because they transferred, They just happened to be my last two and both transferred.
8. Kirby Freeman
Stats at Miami: 24 games, 48 percent passing, 1,311 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, 16 interceptions
When you have a game where you complete just 1of 14 pass attempts and throw three interceptions, it is tough to imagine that guy being an actual starting quarterback for a team that had won a national championship six years prior. But that’s the case for Freeman. He had some good games in his career like the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl when he went 11-for-19 for 272 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and a rushing touchdown, but that 1-for-14 game against NC State was just rough and would be the last time he played for Miami before transferring to Baylor.
7. Robert Marve
Stats at Miami: 11 games, 54.5 percent passing, 1,293 passing yards, 9 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
Robert Marve is a tough one to rank because he only played 11 games and split drives with Jacory Harris. But In that time, he didn’t really wow me. I guess he didn’t wow the coaches, either, since he eventually lost the job to Harris and transferred to Purdue. It is tough to get a real feel and get into a rhythm when you are in and out of the game, but 13 interceptions on 213 attempts is a lot. If we could take 2008 Robert Marve and put him on the 2018 Miami Hurricanes, would the team be better? Very possibly. But we can’t and he struggled in his season in Coral Gables. Many might disagree with me, but the only starter I would want less than him is Freeman.
I honestly think the biggest difference between Marve and Kevin Olsen, who had tons of off-the-field issues, is that Marve played early and Olsen didn’t. I think they both could have had similar careers in good situations, but mistakes and disappointment will be what they are remembered for.
Tier 2: Supposed-to-be Game Managers
The range of the three quarterbacks in this group is pretty wide, but they were pretty all over the place in each of their careers. A lot of highs and even more lows. If Marve finishes his career at Miami instead of Harris, he could have definitely been in this category, maybe even in the top one. But each of these guys played their career with the defense being the strength of the team and just needing solid play to help the team. Some did it better than others.
6. Malik Rosier
Stats at Miami: 30 games, 53.3 percent passing, 4,543 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, 25 interceptions; 204 carries, 831 yards, and 12 touchdowns
I’ll start this by saying that the only reason I have Rosier ahead of Marve is because he actually made plays and did win some games. Is he ahead of Marve if Darrell Langham has butter fingers and doesn’t make two catches? Absolutely not. But he made those catches and was the quarterback who ended a huge drought against Florida State. When it comes down to it, I don’t remember much of Marve from 2008, but in 10 years, I will remember some of Rosier’s plays. I probably won’t remember him as being much better than Freeman, but there will be some solid plays mixed in at least.
5. Kyle Wright
Stats at Miami: 33 games, 59.2 percent passing, 5,835 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, 31 interceptions
It was at this moment that I really realized how rough the last 15 years have been for the quarterback position at Miami. I actually remembered Wright pretty fondly, despite him being a huge disappointment from what was expected when he was coming out of high school. Wright’s career was a roller coaster with injuries, coaching changes, and high expectations. He was the top pro-style quarterback out of high school, but never consistently played that way. If Wright could have played under a more stable coaching staff, he may have really shined. But three seasons under Larry Coker and his fourth under Randy Shannon never allowed him to become the player scouts thought he was.
For many schools, Wright would be a sore spot with how he played, but in the Canes’ last two decades, he is pretty middle of the road. Was he ever really good? No. Was he bad at times? Yes, but not to the level of the others below him.
4. Brock Berlin
Stats at Miami: 25 games, 58 percent passing, 5,099 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 23 interceptions
Every memory I have of Brock Berlin is him making huge plays in the fourth quarter. If he was a Hurricane a few years ago, he would probably be remembered much more fondly, but he was the starting quarterback for two seasons right after Dorsey. The comeback against Florida in 2003 is one of the best memories I have. The fourth-down conversion to Kellen Winslow Jr. against West Virginia (all credit to Winslow) is still one of the most exciting moments in sports for me, but he also made a ton of frustrating plays in the first three quarters of games. In his first season for Miami, he threw 17 interceptions compared to just 12 touchdowns. On a team where the defense wasn’t even allowing 260 yards a game, that is awful. But at the same time, he was a playmaker. I remember watching NFL Europe just to see him play after his career as a Cane ended.
Tier 3: Mount Rushmore of Mediocrity
There were times when these three quarterbacks were amazing and they seemed to have bright futures in the NFL. Two of them were definitely seen as first-round picks at points throughout their college careers. However, injuries, bad coaching, terrible defense, and a ton of other factors led to just decent teams with them taking snaps. I could see these three being in any order for different reasons. I would accept any argument that could be made for each, too. I just think it is obvious which ones could deliver the ball the best.
3. Jacory Harris
Stats at Miami: 47 games, 60.1 percent passing, 8,826 passing yards, 70 touchdowns, 48 interceptions
There was a time when Jacory Harris was my favorite Hurricane since Sean Taylor. It began when he threw a touchdown against Florida State and mocked the tomahawk chop. If he could have played his entire career under Jedd Fisch, he would be first on this list. But he played in a bad system and the only talent around him for the first few years were young guys like him. However, in his four years at Miami, he finished second in career passing yards and touchdowns behind Dorsey. The one thing that holds Harris back from having an awesome career other than his record is the fact he threw 32 interceptions during his sophomore and junior seasons in just 23 games. But he did have a change at offensive coordinator pretty consistently and finally shook his interception problem his senior season when he only had nine in 11 games with four coming in the last game of the season against Boston College.
2. Brad Kaaya
Stats at Miami: 38 games, 60.6 percent passing, 9,968 passing yards, 69 touchdowns, 24 interceptions
Although he left his career at Miami with many knocks against him, Brad Kaaya did have a pretty good college career. He is currently the school’s all-time leader in career passing yards, second in passing yards in a season and career passing touchdowns, and third in passing touchdowns in a season. But the number most people care about the most: 0-3 against the Seminoles. It never seemed like Kaaya delivered in the big moments. He was a really good quarterback, but never had the career-defining play like Dorsey, Berlin, or even Rosier had. But if I can take any of the eight guys on this list to start in 2018, Kaaya would have been second on the list. In three full seasons as the starting quarterback, he threw 24 interceptions. He is the only starter since Dorsey to have a touchdown-to-interception ratio around two.
1. Stephen Morris
Stats at Miami: 36 games, 57.7 percent passing, 7,896 passing yards, 49 touchdowns, 30 interceptions
I will start this by saying this: If the starting quarterback of the Miami Hurricanes for the past two seasons was Stephen Morris, they would have been in the College Football Playoff in one, if not both years. In his two seasons as the full-time starter, Morris threw for 6,373 yards, 42 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. But his senior season, he was injured and forced to play hurt. That injury not only hurt his stats, but also his NFL Draft stock.
If, for some reason, you don’t remember Morris or don’t understand why I have him in the first spot, watch highlights of the 2012 game against NC State. He threw for 566 yards and five touchdowns. After throwing a game-winning bomb to Phillip Dorsett, he should have walked off the field doing the Sam Cassell “Big Balls Dance.”
That’s why Morris tops this list.