The new Miami starting quarterback has been chosen, for now at least.
Sophomore Kyle Wright got the official nod from Head Coach Larry Coker at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Wright beat out red shirt freshman Kirby Freeman in a close battle that lasted all spring.
Wright seemed to be the favorite ever since Brock Berlin finished his senior season. He would have even had a bigger advantage if he hadn’t gotten hurt last season and gotten the reps at quarterback like the team planned. Last season he went 5-for-9 and threw for 30 yards in the two games he played. But Freeman has never played a down because he was a red shirt last season, which makes Coker believe that Wright is his guy at this point.
“From our standpoint, Kyle is further ahead. He’s been here an additional year and he has more knowledge of the offense,” Coker said. “But Kyle knows he can’t relax and Kirby knows he can pour the heat on.”
Wright stood out in the annual spring game as he completed 10 of 13 passes and threw two long touchdown passes. The 6’4″, 220-pound native of Danville, Calif., and 2002 Gatorade National Player of the Year knows about the long line of great quarterbacks that have played in the Orange Bowl.
“I have some big shoes to fill. There’s been a long line of tradition here with a lot of great quarterbacks who have been successful and won national championships,” Wright said. “It’ll be great to try to live up to that. Hopefully one day they’ll add my name to that list of great UM quarterbacks.”
Freeman completed seven of 18 passes for 108 yards with two interceptions in the Spring Game as fans got to see the Brownwood, Texas, native for the very first time in action. Freeman was disappointed about the decision, but will be making the best of it.
“I’m disappointed, but I knew this needed to be done,” Freeman said. “We needed to name a leader for this team, and I feel good about it. Kyle knows that I have his back 100 percent. My role now is to push Kyle and make him a better quarterback.”
Even though Freeman didn’t win the job in the spring, it doesn’t mean Wright has the job locked up, and Coker has repeated time and time again that both of these quarterbacks will win many games at the University of Miami. For Freeman, it’s just a matter of when that first opportunity will come.
Wright will have no easy task as his first two collegiate starts come on the road in hostile environments. The opener is at Florida State on Labor Day in front of a national TV audience on ABC, followed by a trip to Clemson, who the ‘Canes lost to last year at the Orange Bowl. Like many Miami fans, Wright can’t wait for Sept. 5 to arrive.
“I get goose bumps thinking about going to play in Tallahassee for my first start,” Wright said. “It’ll be exciting.”
Douglas C. Kroll can be contacted at email@example.com.