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UM's Dorsey exploring whole new world

The QB's move from unproven starter to seasoned veteran makes him the leader of the No. 2 Hurricanes.

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 30, 2001


CORAL GABLES -- Ken Dorsey is the big man on campus, and that will be the place to find him. South Beach sightings are unlikely. Same for Coconut Grove. The spotlight shines, and it won't travel far to locate him.

The Miami quarterback chuckles when he considers his plight, a 20-year-old from Northern California, toiling in South Florida, considered among the best at his position in the country.

"My best trait is I want to win. I'm going to do anything it takes to win," he said. "My worst trait is I want to win so bad, it pretty much makes me a loser in my social life. I don't go out. If I do, it's a big issue. My close friends are guys on the team. Some people see that as bad, but that's how I am."

Miami fans certainly don't mind as the 'Canes are poised for a return to glory. After finishing second in the polls to national champion Oklahoma last season, the Hurricanes begin this season ranked No. 2. They play Saturday night at Penn State.

Dorsey is a big reason for the lofty status.

A third-year junior who had an excellent first season as the full-time starter, Dorsey led the Hurricanes to an 11-1 record, including victories over Florida State, Virginia Tech and Florida. He passed for 2,737 yards and threw 25 touchdowns.

Dorsey started three times as a freshman, winning all three, making his record 14-1.

He is considered a seasoned veteran, a Heisman Trophy candidate, a leader.

And that's quite a difference from a year ago, when he was the unproven starter.

"It's a whole different world for me right now," Dorsey said. "I'm the experienced guy now. It's fun for me, not having that doubt, not having that question in my mind: Can I do the job? Having the confidence of being able to go out and perform the way I can perform. Now, I have to be more of a leader on this team. I have to be a lot more vocal. I have to be the guy on the team who has to play the role of chewing somebody out or getting on somebody. If that's what it takes to win football games, I'm all for it."

Dorsey also knows he will be without a big reason for his success last year: experienced receivers. Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne are gone. So is top reserve Andre King. They had the ability to make a few errant throws appear to be perfect passes. Now Dorsey must mesh with new players. Only senior Daryl Jones returns, and he is joined by sophomore Andre Johnson.

"Ken makes our job a lot easier," Johnson said. "You're not going to beat a (defensive back) every time, but sometimes Ken can put the ball in spots where a DB can't get it."

No doubt. "For any quarterback, I don't care how much talent you have, how fast you are, the velocity on the ball, it all boils down to decisionmaking," said coach Larry Coker, who was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two seasons. "That is a strong suit Ken has. He threw only six interceptions in 12 games last year. That's something we want Ken to build on. He doesn't have to make the great plays all the time, but he has to make consistent plays. Because we do have talented players, if we throw completions, we'll have a chance to win."

Dorsey leaves very little to chance. In addition to spending nearly all of his waking moments away from the field in school or studying film, he has made sure to keep up with Miami's past.

A legendary line of quarterbacks has prospered at Miami, and Dorsey sought out the stars.

In particular, Dorsey has conversed and met with former UM quarterbacks Steve Walsh, Gino Torretta and Bernie Kosar. "Those three have really helped in my development and are guys I hope I can be close to for a long time," Dorsey said.

"I'm a stickler for tradition. I'm a firm believer with the tradition we have here, you can't help but draw strength from that. If I keep that mentality, I feel I can really be successful over the next two years."

And you'll know where to find him.

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