Kirby Freeman’s climb up the depth chart at the University of Miami is complete as the former Brownwood Lion was named the Hurricanes’ starting quarterback by first-year head coach Randy Shannon on Tuesday.

Freeman posted a 2-2 record in four starts last year and earned MVP honors at the MPC Computers Bowl. Freeman threw for 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 21-20 win over Nevada in the season finale.

Freeman, the son of Lions head football coach Steve and Jani Freeman, is taking over the starting job from senior Kyle Wright, who missed the last four games of the 2006 campaign with a broken thumb.

“I’m really overwhelmed and excited to get the opportunity,” said Freeman in a Wednesday morning phone interview. “Everything I’ve done, the hard work has finally paid off. This has been enjoyable, but the hard work has really just begun. Now is the time I have to go back to the basics and remember all the things that got me here.”

Freeman, who is entering his junior season, and the rest of the Hurricanes will make their season debut Saturday as they host Marshall at 11 a.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

In his collegiate career, Freeman has completed 74-of-139 passes for 1,055 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. As a starter last year, he connected on 48-of-89 passes for 745 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions. He also threw at least one touchdown pass in each of his starts.

“We just felt like Kirby was the best choice that we have,” Shannon said in an Associated Press story that appeared in Wednesday’s Brownwood Bulletin.

Freeman stated the on-field experience he gained at the end of last season increased his confidence heading into fall camp. That confidence showed in preseason practices as Freeman racked up 16 touchdown passes with just four interceptions.

“From the first snap of fall camp I felt like I was picking up from where I left off last year in the bowl game,” Freeman said. “I wasn’t trying to beat Kyle out, I was just trying to have the best fall camp I could.

“I had a really good camp and my completion percentage was pretty high. I was just trying to make good decisions and not have any turnovers. I feel like I have grown as a player in terms of what it takes to be successful from game to game.”

Though the Hurricanes enter the season unranked for the first time since 1998, Freeman stated he has enjoyed his time at Miami and looks forward to the challenge of leading the program back to its status as one of the nation’s elite.

“It’s been a great ride, and the best part is I still have 50 percent of my career left,” he said.

Freeman also wanted to thank all those who have supported not only him, but the Brownwood Lions, since he moved to Florida.

“One of the things my dad always reminds me is to never forget where you came from and I have definitely haven’t,” Freeman said. “I just want to say thank you to everyone that has supported me and the Brownwood Lions, because that’s also supporting me in a way.”