Miami coach Manny Diaz reestablished himself as the king of the NCAA’s transfer portal Monday when he landed grad transfer commitments from former Houston quarterback D’Eriq King and defensive end Quincy Roche from Temple.
Although Roche was the AAC’s defensive player of the year, King is the bigger name and the bigger get. Miami desperately needs a quality quarterback, and King wanted a fresh start after a bizarre final year with the Cougars in which he left the team after four games to focus on next season … which will now be in the ACC, not the AAC.
The move was also an unquestioned win for Diaz. King set an AAC record in 2018 by being responsible for 50 touchdowns, despite missing more than two games with an injury. The former Manvel (Texas) High teammate of Gators quarterback Kyle Trask is a dynamic athlete and fills an obvious need on Diaz’s roster.
Then again, Diaz made plenty of splashes like this last offseason, too. Former blue-chip quarterback Tate Martell transferred from Ohio State. Not only did he fail to win the starting job, but he became an option at receiver. Tommy Kennedy was one of the top offensive line transfers on last year’s market but made little impact in 2019.
The transfer portal wasn’t a waste for Diaz, of course. K.J. Osborn was one of Miami’s best offensive players after coming over from Buffalo. Former No. 1 overall recruit Jaelan Phillips sat out all of last season due to NCAA rules; maybe he will live up to the five-star hype this year in a way he never did at UCLA.
And the portal was probably necessary for Diaz to inject talent into the roster last offseason because of a lackluster early signing period in December 2018.
But Diaz’s first season was an obvious dud, and the offseason hasn’t been drastically better. That makes King’s addition so vital.
A transfer like King provides the kind of buzz Miami needs as the traditional signing day approaches. And as talented as some of last year’s transfers were, none entered Coral Gables with the history of production King has.
Most importantly, King is eligible immediately as a grad transfer, so he’ll be able to help on Day 1. Miami ranked 59th nationally in passing efficiency —which actually seems high, if you watched any of the team’s struggles. The ’Canes left spring ball last season thinking they had three viable options at quarterback. Now they know they have at least one proven possibility: King.
In some ways, King’s addition isn’t much different from the army of transfers Diaz added last year. They filled immediate voids in a way traditional recruits couldn’t and added experience in positions that needed it. King does both.
The difference is that last year’s transfer mediocrity has set up higher stakes for King’s new coach and the program. He can’t afford to fail.