Quarterback Robert Marve was just a skinny, rising sophomore at Plant High when then-Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon spotted him at a summer camp.
Even then, Marve possessed a powerful right arm that belied his size and age.
"He was down there throwing and he had a cannon," said Shannon, now in his second year as the Hurricanes' coach. "I said, 'How old are you?' When he told me, I was like, 'You need to go on that field where they've got some 12th graders.' "
"Me being a young athlete and him acknowledging how good he thought I was, it definitely did make an impression," added Marve.
Undaunted, he did join his elders that day and the 165-pound Marve more than held his own. Now, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound redshirt freshman who has had to overcome injuries from a harrowing car accident in the summer of 2007 and some off-the-field issues, hopes to show again that youth can impressively deliver.
In an unfamiliar script for a program renowned for its quarterback pedigree, Marve battled freshmen Jacory Harris and Cannon Smith for the starting job since spring, and was named the starter Sunday night.
Marve has been suspended by Shannon for tonight's opener because of an incident last year in Coconut Grove when he broke a car mirror and was initially charged with two misdemeanors — resisting arrest without violence and minor criminal mischief. Those charges were not pursued by prosecutors, and Shannon said Marve will start next week against Florida.
Although a neophyte at quarterback might suggest that the Hurricanes, coming off a 5-7 record, are in for more struggles, Marve has long proved that the future can be now.
"One thing I like about him is his work ethic," Shannon said. "He's a competitor and he really enjoys the game."
You can see that in his stats. He was the state's Mr. Football in 2006 after he broke Tim Tebow's single-season records for passing yards (4,380) and touchdowns (48) in leading Plant to the Class 4A title.
"There's no fiercer competitor to ever put on the shoulder pads in high school that I know of," Plant coach Robert Weiner said. "Coaches say all the time that you've got to have that guy who won't let you lose. But Robert Marve really is that guy."
The chance to show that at UM changed on July 16, 2007. He broke his left (non-throwing) wrist, dislocated a finger and suffered a deep cut on his left hand when teammate Jermaine McKenzie fell asleep at the wheel and their car struck a guardrail on Interstate 75 and rolled several times.
Suddenly, there was a question if Marve would play again.
"I was more worried about getting myself back together and getting myself back on my feet," he said. "You go through something like that and you're happy when you walk out of the car alive. It definitely made me think twice about everything."
Marve recovered from surgery and, a few weeks into the season, joined the scout team. That role was "humbling,'' he said, but with a padded glove on his left hand, something he still wears out of habit, he more than held his own. He was named offensive scout team player of the year.
Marve will tell you he's bigger, stronger and faster. He will tell you he's more comfortable with the offensive scheme and his teammates. But in one way, he's as unchanged as he was years ago.
"I'm just trying to go out there with that playground mentality and have fun," he said. "I'm going to fling the ball around and see what I can do with it."