Shannon Tips Hand, Taps Cook For No. 2

UM Coach says competition isn't over but gives Taylor Cook the nod to backup Jacory Harris

Head Coach Randy Shannon told reporters today that he expects redshirt freshman Taylor Cook to handle backup quarterback duties for the University of Miami this fall.

"Taylor Cook would be the (No. 2) quarterback if the season started today," he said during the ACC teleconference.

The fact that the normally media-averse Shannon said anything at all is far more shocking than Cook besting fellow redshirt Cannon Smith for the job.

Ever since former starter Robert Marve took off to be close to his father by probably living five states away from him, the Hurricanes have been about as thin at quarterback as the gangly body of rising sophomore starter Jacory Harris (picture an asparagus in a helmet).

No, Harris has actually put a bit of muscle on that lean frame -- but he remains the only quarterback at Miami with any game experience.

Fortunately for the 'Canes, he's not too bad. Harris is also not indestructible.

Should Miami's offense fail to protect Harris on the field, it will have to turn to someone much, much less experienced.

The NCAA has yet to permit schools with one proven quarterback to encase their little golden-armed darlings in human hamster balls, so the battle of the back ups was showcased throughout the spring over at Greentree Practice Field. 

Smith enrolled a semester earlier than Cook, and got a couple snaps in the 2008 season opener against Charleston Southern when Marve was suspended and Harris got the start. But it wasn't enough.

Cook is the better choice to support Harris. He looked stronger and better in spring play -- and is tall enough at 6' 7" to make reads over the line. The much-shorter Smith seemed to struggle at that.

Cook has decidedly more upside and room to grow into Harris' successor at Quarterback U.

But even though his arm is as strong as advertised, that doesn't mean he's as ready as the staff would like if he were thrust into duty.

"Taylor knows he has to get better," Shannon said.

But until students at UM's fancy med school figure out how to clone Harris before the opener, Taylor will have to do.

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