CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Kirby Freeman is set to be the starting quarterback for Miami’s season opener, beating former first-stringer Kyle Wright in the Hurricanes’ most-scrutinized training camp competition.
Freeman went 2-2 as the starter after Wright broke his right thumb last season, and threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns to take MVP honors in Miami’s 21-20 win over Nevada in the MPC Computers Bowl. He spent 21 games as Wright’s backup over the previous 1 1/2 seasons.
“Kirby Freeman will be our starting quarterback for the Marshall game,” Miami coach Randy Shannon said. “We still consider Kyle a starter … but for this week, Kirby’s going to be the starter.”
Miami was unranked in the preseason poll for the first time since 1998. It opens Saturday at home against Marshall.
Freeman and Wright opened camp tied atop the depth chart, and Shannon said months ago that he wouldn’t announce the starter at quarterback — or any other position — until the final week of the offseason. There was speculation during camp that Freeman was winning the race, especially after it became known that Wright had a sore knee for much of the summer.
“We just felt like Kirby was the best choice that we have,” Shannon said.
But Shannon never tipped his hand until Tuesday, when he made the most-awaited choice of his first eight months leading the Hurricanes.
Wright was the nation’s top recruit when he signed with Miami, yet simply has never lived up to the expectation that he’d be the next great one at the school known as “Quarterback U.” He threw for eight touchdowns in nine games last year and five of those scoring passes were against Florida International and Duke, the only winless teams in Division I-A during 2006.
And in 2005, Wright threw for 18 touchdowns, with 12 against Duke, Temple and Wake Forest — teams going a combined 5-28 that year.
Meanwhile, Freeman waited for his chance, albeit impatiently at times. He considered transferring after the 2005 season before announcing that he’d finish his college career at Miami, even getting the Hurricanes’ distinctive “U” logo tattooed on his back to prove his devotion to the program.
In his starts last season, Freeman completed only 54.4 percent of his throws for 745 yards, with five TDs and six interceptions. But he threw at least one TD pass in all four games, matching the best streak of Wright’s career.