A Wednesday six-pack of Miami Hurricanes observations, as the Canes keep looking for a seasoned quarterback: ▪ What precisely does Zach Carpenter, an Indiana transfer center, bring to UM? If nothing else, a respectable stand-in for Matt Lee, who is headed for the NFL, but one who hasn’t quite reached Lee’s level of performance. This past season, Lee and Carpenter’s snap numbers as pass protectors were extremely similar. Lee gave up only four pressures and no sacks in 434 pass-blocking snaps. Carpenter gave up three sacks in 444 pass-blocking snaps, but just eight pressures. Against Michigan, Carpenter gave up a sack, but against Ohio State, he didn’t. He will be the clear favorite to start at center in 2024, with Ryan Rodriguez challenging him, barring the addition of another portal. Carpenter’s background is advantageous. Before moving to Indiana in 2021, he spent 154 offensive snaps at Michigan. His total offensive snap count is 1,895. Even though the offseason is still very early, the following worries me: You want your top departing players—Lee, Javion Cohen, Kamren Kinchens,
, and Leonard Taylor III—to be replaced by players who are just as excellent, if not better. Whether that will be the case is still unknown. ▪ The Canes have sought and acquired a Vanderbilt defensive back for the second straight season with the acquisition of Savion Riley via the transfer portal. Jadais Richard, who was added in the offseason, didn’t contribute much in his debut season. However, Riley, who redshirted as a freshman at Vanderbilt in 2022 and then played 343 defensive snaps in seven games (including two starts) last season, offers UM upside and versatility, as was the case with Richard. Riley’s coverage statistics were unremarkable: he caught 14 of 19 targets for 150 yards and two touchdowns, which translated into an inflated 131 passer rating in his coverage area. However, in just seven games—12 of which came in a crushing defeat to Florida—he racked up 48 tackles. He can play safety or cornerback at 6-2. Alonzo Highsmith, a seasoned NFL executive, leads UM’s larger front office of personnel evaluators, which puts them in a stronger position to spot potential gems. UM is hoping that Richard and Riley go from being effective backups at Vanderbilt to starting players in Coral Gables. If you missed it, Canesport reports that Miami is considering UNLV’s Jayden Maiava as one of the potential quarterback portal choices. However, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reports that Malachi Nelson of Southern Cal, another quarterback that On3.com had linked to Miami, is currently visiting Boise State and that university is the front-runner for Nelson. Taulia Tagovailoa of Maryland, who has been said to be interested in Miami, would have to reapply for college eligibility if he wanted to play football at another university. Will Howard, the quarterback for Kansas State, has visited UM in the past. However, he is scheduled to visit Ohio State and is anticipated to sign with the Buckeyes. Miami has expressed interest in Maiava, who passed for 3,085 yards this past season (his first playing season at UNLV) with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, according to a number of recruiting websites, including On3.com. Kaidon Salter of Liberty is arguably the best quarterback in the country; he completed 61 percent of his passes this season and finished with 2,876 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Together with that, he rushed for 1,089 yards and 12 touchdowns. Which universities are on his short list is still unknown. One acquaintance explained that, particularly after being benched prior to the FSU game, Tyler Van Dyke was also seeking a fresh start, which may have been the reason why UM chose not to simply keep him. He touched down in Wisconsin. I’m not sure who should enter as the clear-cut starter remaining in the portal unless UM signs Howard (which would be surprising), Tagovailoa, Salter, or maybe Maiava. It seems reasonable to start the race with Jacurri Brown and Emory Williams if UM has settle with a mediocre veteran starter. In the spring transfer window, another group of quarterbacks could become eligible for portal play. In the absence of a replacement, Brown and rookie Judd Anderson might be the only fit quarterbacks for UM in spring football. Williams is anticipated to recover from his injuries within the upcoming months. All signs point to Cam Ward, who is headed to the NFL, never making a commitment to UM, but according to someone with knowledge of the negotiations, UM was extremely confident he would, particularly after the parties settled on a NIL deal two weeks prior. Although he eventually prevented UM from playing for almost a month, he did not necessarily cost the Canes another portal quarterback. A source claims that UM did not actively pursue KJ Jefferson of Arkansas, who committed to UCF. ▪ Retaining linebacker Francisco Mauigoa and receiver Xavier Restrepo has been one of UM’s biggest offseason wins thus far. Restrepo has matured into a respectable professional prospect, according to ESPN’s Matt Miller. Midway in December, Miller commented on X, “I caught myself really liking Miami wide receiver Xavier Restrepo watching tape today.” Extremely strong focus, burst, and body control. Makes difficult catches on option routes and underneath. Believe he could play as a WR3 in the pros. ▪ Jordan Reid, the draft analyst for ESPN, ranks safety Kinchens, who is leaving UM, as the 38th overall prospect in the 2024 draft. Reid stated that Kinchens is “one of the few true centerfield safeties in this class.” “He had 11 career interceptions, which goes well with his excellent range on the back end and knack for finding the ball.” ▪ Brief updates: linebacker Corey Flagg Jr. committed to SMU, defensive end Jahfari Harvey joined the school, and running back Don Chaney Jr. from UM transferred to Louisville. In case you missed it, Warren Sapp, a former Canes All-American, has joined Deion Sanders’ Colorado team. Quarterback Jake Garcia, who did not play a snap for the Tigers in the previous season, is back in the portal a year after moving from Miami to Missouri.