|After 5 up-and-down years, Wright's time at Miami running out|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 21 November 2007 06:30|
It was Aug. 28, when Wright was summoned to coach Randy Shannon's office and learned he'd open his senior season as the Hurricanes' backup quarterback. As word spread, some teammates wondered if Wright would get in his 1996 GMC pickup and drive home to California.
That afternoon, he had perhaps the best practice of his career.
``Of course Kyle was upset, but he never quit,'' offensive lineman Derrick Morse said. ``He came out at practice, did a great job and all the players and all the coaches noticed it. Everybody was kind of watching to see how he would react, and he was just a stand-up guy.''
Two weeks later, Wright was back as the starter.
His Miami era was filled with some great moments, some horrible experiences and more disappointments than he ever imagined. Wright won't win a national championship, a Heisman Trophy or even an Atlantic Coast Conference title.
All he has left is Saturday, when he'll try to lead the Hurricanes past No. 15 Boston College, knowing a win gets Miami into a bowl game and a loss ends his college career.
It's one final game - and it's likely for his legacy.
``I wish there was a lot of things that went different, a lot of things I can't control,'' Wright said this week in an interview with The Associated Press. ``But at the end of the day, whether it's this Saturday or a month from now in a bowl game, I'm still going to go out and play as hard as I can. That's all I've ever tried to do.''
No one within the Hurricanes' program will argue that assertion.
Yet to the Miami fan base - which booed almost as often as it cheered him - that probably isn't enough.
``He didn't get a fair shake here,'' Miami safety Kenny Phillips said. ``You make one mistake here and fans are ready to hang you. He didn't get a fair shot. Teammates, we all supported him. But on the outside, no one ever gave him a fair shot.''
It was that way from the very beginning.
When Wright came to Miami, the expectations surrounding him were ridiculously high. He was the nation's top-rated high school signal-caller, and was tabbed as the next great one for ``Quarterback U.'' He had that classic quarterback makeup: 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, blessed with a right arm that could throw the football 70 yards in a perfect spiral.
He moved to campus in 2003 and became the starter in 2005 - opening the year at Florida State in a game would essentially become a harbinger of his tenure at Miami.
With the game on the line, Wright led Miami 94 yards down the field, from the 'Canes 3 to the Florida State 3 in the final minutes. But he was sacked for the ninth time, Miami botched a field goal try and wound up losing 10-7 - the first of many tough losses he'd endure.
Every year, there were offseason moves to handle, be it new offensive coordinators or head coaches or schemes or philosophies. Every year, it was almost like Wright was starting over.
And that endless cycle of change was one of many things that held him back.
``I get on him hard because I expect a lot out of him,'' Shannon said. ``But I really respect him because he took a beating in some games and you know what? He kept coming back, kept trying to produce and kept trying to work at it. It's a shame he hasn't had a chance to really have a coordinator or a quarterbacks coach work with him for more than six months. ... People need to know that.''
Here's something Wright's teammates think people should know: He's considered one of the toughest players on the team.
Two years ago, he broke his wrist and refused to have surgery that doctors recommended. So when he broke the wrist again last season, three plays into Miami's game against Virginia Tech, Wright knew the severity right away. But he never came out, even gripping a ball between his fingers at halftime just to maintain some range of motion.
``He's real tough,'' Morse said. ``Real tough.''
This year, a badly cut mouth knocked him from a game - for about 10 minutes.
``You're not going to knock me out,'' said Wright, who enters the final regular-season game of his career with 5,637 passing yards and 36 touchdowns.
Sure enough, five stitches later he was back on the field.
``It's just little things like that that a lot of people don't realize,'' Morse said. ``But a lot of guys on this team notice stuff like that and really appreciate him for it.''
By most accounts, the 23-year-old is perfectly normal.
He doesn't go out during the season and rarely leaves home during the offseason. He loves those rare opportunities to see his parents. He's been dating the same girl for four years. Even after being the face of this program, Wright acknowledges he still has bouts of shyness.
He came to Miami as a boy, will leave as a man, one that'll almost certainly be in the NFL.
And for now, as he prepares for what might be goodbye to 'The U,' Wright can't help but wonder what might have been.
``Miami has always talked about winning championships, while other teams kind of hope they win enough games to get to a bowl game,'' Wright said. ``Being now on that other side of it, hoping to get another win to get to a bowl game, nobody should feel satisfied here. I wanted more.''
His teammates say he deserved more, too.
``He was our leader,'' Phillips said. ``That's what we needed him to be.''