Dave Hyde
Wednesday October 7th, 2009

Jacory Harris does not know the history of it all the way the other quarterbacks do at Quarterback U. He does not know that George Mira helped Steve Walsh with footwork or Jim Kelly returned after his first USFL season to help Bernie Kosar study defenses.

He does not know Walsh broke down game tape each week with Ken Dorsey or how Kosar approached Dorsey on the sideline in the final, frantic minutes of the Florida State game in 2002. In 20 seconds, Kosar condensed 20 years of watching Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.

"He'll give you the middle of the field,'' Kosar told Dorsey, who then threw down the middle of that field for a comeback win, 28-27.

All Harris knows is while walking to class last week a text message popped up on his phone. It was from Dorsey. This was after Miami lost to Virginia Tech and before the Hurricanes beat Oklahoma on Saturday night.

Dorsey wrote Harris about a similar loss to Washington in 2000, about how it motivated him and sparked a 34-game winning streak. The key, Dorsey said, was how you react.

"Don't let Virginia Tech beat you twice,'' Dorsey ended the message.

"That was pretty cool,'' Harris said.

Here's added cool: It was the same message Walsh phoned Dorsey with after that Washington loss nine years earlier.

"I told him, 'Everyone's looking at you to see how you react?''' Walsh said. "Are you going to go in the tank? Or are you going to say, 'OK, it's over, and go out and work your butt off and lead that way?'''

And Walsh heard that same message from Kosar.

And Kosar heard it from Kelly.

Do you see how the years link up? Do you understand why hollow-sounding clichés such as "tradition" sometimes aren't so hollow in college football?

"That's what makes Miami, Miami,'' Kosar said.

That Harris is in The Club now?

"He's in The Family,'' Kosar said.

They were all so different, too. Kelly was tough. Kosar was smart. Vinny Testaverde was athletic. Walsh was clutch, Craig Erickson resilient, Gino Torretta unruffled and Dorsey such the complete leader.

And Harris? What's the early word on him?

"Goofy," senior safety Randy Phillips said.

"Definitely goofy," tackle Orlando Franklin said.

"The goofiest," tackle Matt Pipho said.

Even coach Randy Shannon has a story: Harris showed up one day wearing one red shoe, one blue shoe, socks to his knees, shorts pulled up high and a Gucci book bag.

"He went to his classes that way," Shannon said.

"Like Urkel," Franklin says.

For the team's first trip to Tallahassee this year, Harris wore the requisite suit and tie -- and a fluffy scarf around his neck. And big shades. And big earrings. And the "U" shaved into one side of his head.

"Kid, do you know what you're doing?" Phillips said to him that day. "Do you know where you're going? Florida State! You better be good or you'll be laughed out of Tallahassee."

Phillips recalled the image. "Tim Tebow doesn't dress like that," he said.

But on the field, Harris matches up. He fits with the other big names, the ones at Miami who have won a couple of Heismans and five national titles. Take his latest game: Harris threw two interceptions in his first four passes last Saturday against Oklahoma and fell behind 10-0.

"You see what you're made of then,'' Kosar said.

Harris came on to throw three touchdown passes. He lifted Miami to the lead, then ran out the clock in a 21-20 win with two first-down passes.

"It's been a while since we've had one like Jacory here," Torretta said. "You probably have to go back to Ken."

"He even looks like Dorsey, doesn't he?" Walsh said.

Tall. Rangy. Poised.

"That's what I love about him,'' Kosar said. "He doesn't react to bad plays or great plays. He looks the same."

In a program where the past connects to the present more than in other places, where Michael Irvin calls his former dorm room to see who's living there, where Ed Reed and Jeremy Shockey work out in the offseason, the former quarterbacks talk about what's in store for Harris.

They talk of the stage he's taking this program. They talk of the fun he'll have doing so. And they talk of big and small ways those days never left them.

"Ask guys about The Fist,'' Kosar says.

That's a quarterback-to-receiver hand signal for a pattern at Miami. Erickson used it with the Dolphins to Randal Hill. Kosar used it in the 1993 NFC Championship Game to Irvin when he couldn't remember the Cowboys signals. Kosar even used it with the Dolphins in a preseason game with Lamar Thomas when the receiver was in danger of not making the team.

"Big completion,'' Kosar said. "And Lamar made the team."

The newest quarterback does not know these stories. He has run a four-game gauntlet this season against ranked teams and come out with a 3-1 record. He's in the Heisman chase.

He's got something more than just all that, though. He's got the attention of the select members of Quarterback U. He's given them a message with his opening games. They've given him a message back, often by text, like the simple one Dorsey sent after the Oklahoma game:

"That's how it's done."

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