Photo: Jaden Rashada; Credit: Sports Illustrated All-American
The U put the recruiting landscape on notice Sunday by earning a commitment from 2023 quarterback Jaden Rashada, beating out SEC powerhouses in Florida, Texas A&M, LSU and Ole Miss for, arguably, the best signal-caller available in the nation at the time.
The de-facto leader of Mario Cristobal's first full recruiting class as Miami's head coach, Rashada will be viewed as the quarterback of the Hurricanes' future upon his arrival in Coral Gables. Enticing offensive recruits are expected to follow his lead to UM as Cristobal builds an offense that will one day be Rashada's to operate.
But what kind of quarterback will Miami be getting when that time comes?
You can find All Hurricanes' in-depth scouting report reviewing Rashada's skill-set below.
High school: Pittsburg (Calif.)
Size: 6-foot-4, 185 pounds
Career stats: 179-of-312 (57.4%), 2,632 yards, 35 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Rashada creates some of the most natural velocity among passers in his class, without much effort required.
Rashada's throwing motion, which we'll discuss more thoroughly later, is more compact than it is elongated, leading to a quick release. He doesn't have to put his entire body into making powerful throws — instead, he relies upon technique and natural arm strength to get the ball out of his hand quickly and into the hands of his receiver even faster.
As such, Rashada is adept with "pro throws" — passes from one side of the field to the other with enough velocity and precise accuracy to avoid being undercut. He has no issue passing outside of the numbers, even from the opposite hash, whether he's targeting the flats, a nine-route or pretty much any throw in between.
Speaking of his nine-route tosses and similar throws such as posts and corners, Rashada throws an immaculate deep ball, and the best thing about it is how he controls the throw. He can zip a pass to his pass-catcher down the sideline to take advantage of a vertical window, squeeze a pass to a receiver at the boundary, and lead his target to the ball in-stride by putting great touch on the ball.
Rashada's film is littered with deep shots that often result in touchdowns, whether the passes are placed in the back corner of the endzone, outside of the numbers or down the seam in a spot where receivers can create yards after the catch. This ability will allow Miami to open its playbook substantially to threaten defenses with explosive plays.
We'll want to see Rashada continue to develop passing into the middle of the field as his high school offense is vertically-based, which will be more of a mental than a physical challenge. His ability to sling passes around the gridiron, seen occasionally in between the hashes on his film, suggests this won't be an issue.
As mentioned regarding his deep ball, Rashada throws with precision in addition to power. His placement on those passes, requiring touch as well as great anticipation, is often ideal, setting the receiver up with enough space to create yards after the catch or to win a contested-catch battle in the endzone or at the sideline.
That much can be seen in the two clips below, the first example displaying Rashada squeezing a pass into a tight window right before he takes a big hit and the second exemplifying Rashada's ability to place a pass in-stride.
Rashada's accuracy is similarly strong on short-to-intermediate passes, particularly to the outside and on the "pro throws" discussed above. He has no problem putting passes on the outside shoulder of his receiver from any distance to prevent a defender from having a chance at making a play on the ball.
An indicator of his ability to process, Rashada sees throwing windows before his target enters them and doesn't usually think twice before uncorking a pass into the window. More often than not, those passes split the zone defenders and end up in a perfect spot for the receiver and the receiver alone to make a play.
Again, more evidence is needed to assess Rashada's capabilities throwing into the short-to-intermediate middle of the field, but limited early returns showcase that he can make these passes with great accuracy as well. His ability to set receivers up for yards after the catch in this area can use some sharpening, but Rashada can at least tuck his passes into a spot where only his receiver can grab them.
Although his rushing stats don't jump off the page — 173 yards and two touchdowns on 30 attempts, with a longest rush of 40 yards — Rashada is an efficient rusher when he needs to be and, most importantly, he uses his mobility to his advantage as a passer.
Pittsburg's offense utilizes designed roll-outs from time to time thanks to Rashada's athleticism and ability to throw on the move, and Miami will be able to call similar plays.
Defenses must respect Rashada's rushing capabilities in these instances which prevents second-level defenders from dropping back into coverage. At the same time, the linebackers and defensive backs can't be drawn too far downhill, otherwise Rashada will pin-point a target and either reset his base to deliver a strike or make a quality throw off-platform.
This skill-set should make Rashada a capable and dangerous quarterback on play-action and run-pass option concepts specifically at the next level.
Rashada's overall mobility also benefits him when he's facing pressure, which we dive into more thoroughly below.
Rashada is a poised passer under pressure, not often flustered by pass rushers and able to extend plays when necessary. Rashada will stand in the paint and take a big hit if he sees a target entering a throwing window that he can squeeze a ball into, and he'll also step up with confidence to make a pass when edge rushers collapse the top of the pocket.
Although Rashada will take occasional chances on big plays while under pressure (which do seem to pay off often), he's a smart enough quarterback to simply take what the defense gives him when he's forced off of his read.
If an underneath receiver opens up while Rashada is on the run or stuck in a collapsing pocket, he'll opt for the check-down to keep the offense in rhythm rather than take unnecessary risks for the chance at an explosive gain. This is a great example of poise and awareness that not too many high-school signal-callers put on display regularly.
While Rashada is a plus athlete for the quarterback position, he isn't one to bail on a passing play to tuck the ball and run at the first sign of pressure. Rather, Rashada will extend plays with his feet by moving the pocket or rolling out while continuing to scan the field and only take off when there are no better options.
Pittsburg's offense primarily works Rashada out of this shotgun, which has limited his footwork to one and three-step drops most of the time on standard passing plays. He'll need to develop his five and seven-stop drops at the next level and also learn to eliminate hitching from his shorter drops, which showed up on occasion in his high school tape.
Rashada can use different types of throwing motions based on his situation. From a clean pocket and when he's not on the run, his motion is quick and compact — he rarely drops the ball below his chest as he winds up and also rarely lets the ball go over his head when he releases it. As a result, the ball glides off of his hand with a consistent spiral as well as elite and controllable velocity.
His quick and compact release allows Rashada to make passes in a timely fashion, pairing nicely with his ability to see throwing windows before they're open which allows him to execute passing concepts to perfection.
When he's on the move, Rashada has displayed a quick three-quarters release to control his accuracy despite not having a base to make his throws from. He can utilize the three-quarters release moving right or left and effectively place passes in an accurate spot away from defenders with this windup similar to his base throwing motion.
Rashada's lower-body mechanics are also in-tune. He keeps his feet underneath him and active throughout the throwing process and aligns both feet with his target as he sets up to throw. Rashada cleanly transfers his weight from his back foot to his front foot as he follows through, allowing him to generate power in addition to the natural strength of his arm.
Rashada is the type of talent who can step into a program and push to start at quarterback early on in his career due to his skill-set and charisma. That being said, he may have to wait a little while before he can start taking snaps for the Hurricanes.
For one, Rashada will need to add weight to his frame once he gets into Miami's strength and conditioning program. That shouldn't be much of an issue due to his lengthy frame, and it would not be surprising to see him closer to the 200-pound range before the start of his second season.
Another factor that will prevent Rashada from playing immediately is the nature of the Canes' QB depth chart.
Upon his arrival at Miami, Rashada will be seated behind Jake Garcia, Jacurri Brown and Peyton Matocha, perhaps even Tyler Van Dyke although he is expected to become a hot 2023 NFL Draft prospect following the upcoming season.
Garcia, a class of 2021 enrollee, was one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in his cycle and is the favorite to take over as Miami's starter once Van Dyke heads to the pros.
Assuming that the passing of the torch occurs in 2023, Rashada will serve as a backup at least for his freshman season and could very well hold onto the role for two years if Garcia were to stick around that long.
But, barring transfers or injuries forcing him to play earlier than expected, that would mean Rashada should receive the keys to Miami's offense entering 2024, which would be his redshirt sophomore campaign. He'll likely compete with Brown at that time, but Cristobal and Co, aren't likely to want to keep the jewel of their first recruiting class on the bench much longer than they're already projected to.
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