A look into the new-look Miami QB room

Sophomore quarterback Jacurri Brown rushes to the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter of Miami’s Pinstripe Bowl Matchup versus Rutgers at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 28, 2023.

It may have taken some time, but the Miami Hurricanes landed one of the top quarterbacks in the transfer portal: Washington State’s Cam Ward. Along with the Albany transfer Reese Poffenbarger, the Miami quarterback room looks much better than it did just a few weeks ago.

In total, the ‘Canes will carry five scholarship quarterbacks heading into next season: Ward, Poffenbarger, redshirt sophomore Jacurri Brown, sophomore Emory Williams and freshman Judd Anderson.

Both Williams and Brown played in games this past season.

Williams led the ‘Canes to a big victory over the Clemson Tigers in his first collegiate start on Oct. 21, 2023. While that victory was not a result of the excellent play of Williams, he was able to manage the game responsibly. That’s a good sign for a quarterback in his first primetime action.

Williams struggled against the Florida State Seminoles a few weeks later, where he started over Van Dyke. Williams eventually left that game with a season-ending injury after completing only 34.8% of his passes.

The Florida native showed maturity in big moments. He was not perfect by any means, but he flashed potential for the future. Williams may miss spring ball because of the arm injury sustained against the Seminoles but is expected to be ready to go by the fall.

The other returning signal-caller to make a start was Brown. The Georgia native started in Miami’s bowl game loss to Rutgers. Brown was one of the only bright spots on a gutted Miami team that day. Brown came out of the gate slow but eventually eased into the offense and was able to use his arm and running ability to keep drives alive for the ‘Canes.

The former four-star recruit is known for what he can do with his legs, as he rushed 15 times for 57 yards and two scores. What was less known was how good he could be with his arm. Brown completed 65% of his passes with a touchdown and an interception. Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson has a lot to work with in Brown. The talent and skills are there for Brown; now it’s about refining it.

Anderson, a 6-foot-6-inch Georgia native, is ranked as a top 50 quarterback in the class by 247Sports. The incoming freshman has a big arm that will need some development. Luckily for the ‘Canes, he’ll have plenty of time to develop it.

The first of the two incoming transfers to commit was Poffenbarger, who led the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in passing yards with 3,603 and passing touchdowns with 36. The Maryland native led the Great Danes to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs this past season. The redshirt junior got it done on the ground and in the air, as he accounted for 42 total touchdowns last year.

Poffenbarger did throw 13 interceptions last season and will have to adjust to the speed of the ACC. Poffenberger’s size may limit him at this level, but it did not stop him from putting up gaudy numbers for Albany. Look for Poffenbarger to be the first off the bench in case something happens to Ward, who is the presumed starter for Miami in 2024.

Ward comes to Miami after a long road that saw him play two seasons at the University of Incarnate Word and two more after transferring to Washington State. Ward has improved every year, with this past season being his best. Ward completed 67% of his passes for 3,735 yards, and 25 touchdowns.

It was not just his arm that was dangerous, as Ward rushed for eight more touchdowns. The Texas native stepped up in the biggest games Washington State played. Some of his biggest passing days were against teams ranked in the top 15 like Washington, Oregon and Oregon State. Dawson and Miami’s offense should be much more dynamic with Ward under center next fall.

The ‘Canes have a good mix of experience and potential in this group and are well set up for the future in the wake of Van Dyke’s departure to Wisconsin. There’s no real elite starter outside of Ward at the moment, but all of these quarterbacks have the potential to grow into that role.

Despite an initial announcement that indicated he’d be declaring for the NFL Draft, Ward decided on Miami. The presumptive starter for the ‘Canes this year found his way to Coral Gables for his final college season. The dual-threat quarterback will bring a different element to the ‘Canes offense, and is a true reflection of the room as a whole. While Brown may excel with his legs and Williams with his arm, Ward is the whole package at the QB position.

This is a group that shaped up very nicely for head coach Mario Cristobal. With Ward in the fold, the ‘Canes can get another year of development for Brown and Williams before having to decide on a starter between those two and Poffenbarger for 2025.