Miami quarterback D'Eriq King will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz told WQAM on Monday. King suffered the shoulder injury in Miami's 38-17 loss to Michigan State on Sept. 18, and after missing the team's past two games, has decided to move forward with the procedure. King's decision solidifies redshirt freshman Tyler Van Dyke as the Miami starter after he filled in for King in the past two games -- a 69-0 win over Connecticut State and a crushing 30-28 loss to Virginia.
"The day after the Michigan State game, we knew the odds were, with the injury he suffered in his shoulder, that he would probably need surgery to correct--and if he had the surgery it would end his season," Diaz told WQAM. "There was a narrow avenue that he could rehab it and potentially come back and play this season without needing the surgery. We were going down that road and D'Eriq wanted to go down that road. In D'Eriq's mind we have exhausted that opportunity and possibility, so he is going to get the surgery on his shoulder."
Barring a medical redshirt that would allow him to return for a seventh season of college football, King's college career will be over. The Houston transfer began the 2021 season -- his second with the Hurricanes -- regarded as a Heisman Trophy contender after rehabilitating from an ACL tear the he suffered during the Cheez-It Bowl at the end of the 2020 season.
King first burst onto the national scene at Houston in 2018 by throwing for 36 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards as a junior. After playing four games with the Cougars under then-first year coach Dana Holgorsen in 2019, King took a redshirt for what otherwise would have been his final year of eligibility. Instead of retuning to Houston for the 2020 season, however, he transferred to Miami and immediately helped lift the Hurricanes from a 6-7 record in 2019 to an 8-3 mark in 2020.
King passed for 2,686 yards, 23 touchdowns and just five interceptions last season while also rushing for 538 yards and four touchdowns in 11 games. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the season did not count against King's eligibility, which gave him the option to return for a sixth season. His decision to play another year with the Hurricanes was met with celebration, but Miami started just 1-2 with King at quarterback. He completed 66.4% of his passes for 767 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions through the season's first three games, but the Hurricanes failed to score more than 25 points in any of those contests.
Tyler Van Dyke's team now
Despite their 2-3 record, the Hurricanes are just 0-1 in league play and not out of the ACC Coastal race just yet. Saturday's game at North Carolina looms large for the team, however. Diaz will hope Tyler Van Dyke, a former four-star prospect, can take his play to the next level after completing 58.1% of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions in his first two starts.
"This is Tyler Van Dyke's team," Diaz told WQAM. "I think we saw Tyler grow up in the second half of that Virginia game and I think our players respected that toughness. We all have to get behind Tyler."
Van Dyke was a four-star prospect in the class of 2020 and regarded as the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the class by the 247Sports Composite. At 6-feet-4, he brings prototypical size to the position as opposed to King, who is just 5-11. While Van Dyke isn't known for his mobility, he did flash some athleticism late in Miami's loss to Virginia when he scrambled 24 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to bring the Hurricanes within two points. Miami scored 21 of its 28 points against Virginia in the second half as Van Dyke began to look more comfortable in his first extended playing time against an ACC opponent.
With freshman Jake Garcia also out for at least another few weeks following an ankle injury, Diaz has little choice but to put his faith in Van Dyke.
Bad news for Manny Diaz
The news that King will miss the rest of the 2021 season comes at a bad time for Diaz. The third-year coach is under scrutiny amid his team's poor start after the Hurricanes began the season ranked No. 14. Though they could still factor into the ACC title race, three early-season losses have diminished the Hurricanes' national relevance and frustrated a notoriously fickle fan base.
Diaz landed in the "pressure is mounting" category of Dennis Dodd's most-recent. There is still time for Miami to turn things around, but relying on a freshman quarterback to orchestrate that turnaround is not a position any embattled coach wishes to be in.
In 2019, Diaz's first season as coach and before the arrival of King from Houston, Miami struggled to find consistent quarterback play. That meant an excellent defense, which allowed just 309.4 yards per game, had to shoulder a heavy load. The 2021 Miami defense is allowing 385.6 yards per game and hasn't looked capable of carrying this team to a bowl game like the 2019 defense did.
D'Eriq King's draft stock
King does not appear among the top 100 NFL Draft prospects in CBS Sports' 2022 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings, and the shoulder injury won't help his stock. Though King is an electric and efficient quarterback when healthy, the shoulder injury is merely the latest hiccup in an injury-marred career for the college journeyman.
The torn ACL he suffered in last season's bowl game appeared to limit King's mobility early in the 2021 season, which will likely give NFL scouts pause. Additionally, the shoulder injury is to his throwing shoulder, which means King will have to prove after his operation that he can regain his arm strength and accuracy.
There is little question about King's intangibles and toughness. He's demonstrated his capability as a leader and playmaker at two schools. But when it comes to his draft stock, it appears there are more questions than answers.