Day 1: Crudup starts at QB

University of Miami football coach Larry Coker guaranteed during the off-season that come the spring all four quarterbacks on the team's roster would be given an equal opportunity to earn the starting job and replace the departed Ken Dorsey. Tuesday, apparently was Derrick Crudup's turn.

In a mild surprise, Crudup, who served as Dorsey's backup the last two seasons, opened the Hurricanes inaugural spring practice Tuesday afternoon at Greentree Field in Coral Gables behind center with the first-team offense and scored a passing grade in the eyes of Coker, among others.

Junior transfer Brock Berlin, participating in his first official practice after sitting out last season as mandated by NCAA rules, was expected to be the Hurricanes leading candidate for the position but worked with the second-team for much of the 90-minute session. Redshirt freshman Marc Guillon opened with the third-team followed by 2002 National Gatorade Player of the Year Kyle Wright.

But when asked if Crudup was currently the Hurricanes No. 1 quarterback Coker was non-committal. The third-year coach added that all four players vying for the position would be mixed in with the different groups on the depth chart and that it was still to early to come to any conclusions. Berlin was scheduled to meet with the gathered media at the conclusion of practice. But it was Crudup who stole the spotlight - at least for now.

"Derrick had a good day and threw the ball exceptionally well," said Coker. "He took the first snaps we had today but I wouldn't call him that (the starter). Today it was Derrick, tomorrow it might be Brock and next week it might be Marc. Everybody is going to get a fair shot."

"I'm interested in it (the quarterback situation) because it's sort of a new situation for me as well. We know the importance of getting one of these guys ready to start the season but there is a lot of work yet to de done."

And despite speculation building up the last several months that Berlin would begin the spring with an early lead on all three of his competitors, it was Crudup that was sounding pretty confident at the conclusion of the first day.

"Oh, definitely I feel it's my job," said Crudup who was 15-of-26 for 226 passing yards and two touchdowns in eight games last season. "I've been around this system three years now and feel like I have the knowledge and ability to lead this team. I've always known I can do it. Now I have to show I can do it. This is my chance."

The soft-spoken 6-1, 201-pounder was last seen entering the national championship Fiesta Bowl game in place of Dorsey, for one play, completing a seven-yard pass that allowed the Hurricanes to keep an offensive drive going. He feels confident he can do that and more if named the starter. And Crudup credits Dorsey for that - and a lot more.

"Kenny taught me how to be calm and never lose my focus," said Crudup. "I would be thrilled if I could accomplish just half of the stuff he did."

HIGH MARKS: Coker opening his press conference by praising the effort shown by the defensive unit. But he added that with a new quarterback and center on the offensive side of the ball he didn't expect that to be a shock to anyone.

"The defense showed a lot of energy but that's the way it should have been. But we didn't have a lot of miscommunication and the snaps were handled cleanly for the most part. All in all I was pleased."

ON THE SIDELINES: Jason Geathers and Roscoe Parrish took most of the reps with the first-team offense. Wide Receiver Kevin Beard, recovering from a season-ending knee injury suffered last November, took part in some light drills. Wide Receiver Akieem Jolla (quad) was limited. Orien Harris, John Square and Thomas Carroll joined Vince Wilfork with the first-team defensive line. Carlos Joseph (LT), Joe McGrath (LG), Joel Rodriguez (C), Chris Myers (RG) and Vernon Carey (RT) started on the offensive line.

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