Time to rally ol' Uncle Luke -- the University of Miami is in need of a dedicated roving protection unit to watch Jacory Harris on curbs, stairwells, and slippery bathroom floors. Either that, or a human-sized hamster ball.
Why the concern? Oh, nothing, except that in roughly 12 hours exactly half of the Hurricanes' scholarship quarterbacks have requested and been granted transfers. Seems competition is a bit of a bitch: a source told the Miami Herald that both redshirt freshman Taylor Cook and sophomore Cannon Smith left "because they knew...they'd have to wait another three years to get their shots."
Their departures leave only true freshman A.J. "Son of Alonzo" Highsmith to back up two-start sophomore Jacory Harris.
On the plus side, the mass exodus isn't the result of any behind-the-scenes conspiracy that a 2-for-1 exit 13 days before the first game, coupled with Robert Marve's January departure, would seem to indicate: Smith, who could barely see over the offensive line, was not heavily recruited and was never going to see the field as a Hurricane. Cook just wasn't willing to bide his time on the depth chart even though coaches tried to talk him into staying on the roster.
"I'm just going back home to play some football,'' said Cook, a former Texas high school star and person unaccustomed to the bench. "If I go to a Division I-AA school, I can play right away. If I go to another Division I-A school, I have to sit out another two semesters...I had to make a career choice. I have all the respect in the world for coach Shannon and (OC Mark) Whipple but I had to make a decision about my future."
Cook's departure comes on the heels of Randy Shannon's announcement Monday that he was not automatically awarded the no. 2 slot and rumors that he might be usurped by Highsmith. Guess Cook's never heard of Vinnie Testaverde, who sat for 3 years before taking the 'Canes within a game of glory and finding his way to the NFL. Or Gino Torretta, who started 4 during his redshirt freshman season when Craig Erickson went down, and then went back to mop up duty while biding his time. Once a starter, he won a Heisman.
So where does Cook's fast-food football plan leave Miami? Twirling Harris into a roll of bubble wrap before every practice. Depth is vital, and no, we still haven't recovered from the horror of only having wide receiver Ethnic Sands on hand to back up twiggy Ken Dorsey, either. Cook showed a lot of promise and had great size coupled quick feet and a thrillingly strong arm; it's really too bad he wasn't willing to wait and let a competition with Highsmith make them both better.
Consolation prize? It would appear Shannon is getting back to the old Jimmy Johnson rule: compete hard, or go home. "I just told them being here at Miami is always going to be a very competitive place," Shannon said.
Hopefully it won't bite the 'Canes in the butt before they can get some fresh bodies in.