The Washington Huskies’ quarterback competition took an unexpected turn on Friday as the school announced that starting quarterback Cyler Miles is taking a “voluntary leave of absence” and will not participate in spring practices.
According to the University of Washington, Miles decided to take leave due to personal reasons. His absence is not a disciplinary measure, the school said.
“Cyler is dealing with some things in his life that are more important than football, and he felt it was important to take some time away from the game,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said in a statement released by the school.
“We are working to support him in any way we can and hope he returns back to the football field soon.”
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UW’s official statement noted that the school will have no further comment on Miles’ absence. A Seattle Times report indicated that while the fourth-year junior is still considering his options, he does not currently expect to play in 2015.
The Huskies will have three scholarship quarterbacks available for spring practices: fourth-year junior Jeff Lindquist, redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels and freshman Jake Browning, who graduated early from Folsom (Calif.) High School and enrolled at the UW in January.
Lindquist is the only quarterback on the roster with game experience. The 6-foot-3, 246-pound product of Mercer Island High started the 2014 season opener at Hawaii, a game Miles missed while serving a suspension for his role in an off-campus assault investigation last February.
Miles was also suspended throughout last spring pending that investigation, which yielded misdemeanor assault charges against ex-teammate Damore’ea Stringfellow. Miles was not charged.
He started 12 of UW’s 14 games in 2014, completing 66.6 percent of his passes for 2,397 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. He rushed for 307 yards and four touchdowns, but he displayed questionable arm strength and often looked frazzled in the pocket.
Asked about the upcoming quarterback competition following the UW’s Jan. 2 loss to Oklahoma State in the Cactus Bowl, Miles replied: “Just keep grinding. God’s going to take care of all the rest. All you can control is what you control, yourself, and how you are with your teammates, and your effort day in and day out. So that’s all I can focus on right now.”
Miles’ up-and-down season, as well as the perceived potential of both Carta-Samuels and Browning — a record-setting, four-star recruit — led many to wonder who would start at quarterback when the 2015 season begins.
Petersen said during an interview with Sports Radio KJR 950-AM in January that he had “no idea” who will start at quarterback for the Huskies this season. In subsequent interviews, Petersen said he anticipated a wide-open competition.
“The best quarterback’s going to win, there’s no question about it,” Petersen told 1090-AM on Feb. 12. “I’m really excited to see this competition. I think we’ve got some talent there. Some of it’s very young talent. I’m really anxious to see how that’s going to go.”
Browning might be the most intriguing candidate. As a three-year starter at Folsom High, he threw a national-record 229 touchdown passes, and tied the national single-season record of 91 touchdown passes as a senior in 2014.
Washington begins spring practices March 30. The spring preview is scheduled to begin at noon April 25 and will be broadcast by Pac-12 Networks.