Miami University coach Chuck Martin made a rare decision last month.
Martin picked Brett Gabbert as his team’s starting quarterback, marking the first time that the RedHawks began a season with a true freshman under center.
“He made the most plays and made the fewest egregious errors in camp,” Martin said. “He just took care of the football, didn't throw the ball to the other team and made a bunch of plays. It was a close call, but based on play in camp, we felt like he deserved the first opportunity.”
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There wasn’t going to be much time to acclimate to college, though.
The RedHawks opened their season at Iowa and also traveled to Cincinnati before the stiffest test Saturday at Ohio State — three trips in the first four weeks for the freshman.
“But so far, he's played pretty good football for us,” Martin added.
Gabbert arrived with a football pedigree: He is the younger brother of former Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who is in his ninth NFL season as a backup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The younger Gabbert emerged as a less-heralded high school recruit from St. Louis, considered a three-star prospect according to 247Sports' composite rankings. Blaine Gabbert had been a four-star recruit when he signed with Missouri, among other scholarship offers he received from schools in the Power Five conferences.
Through his first three games with Miami, Brett Gabbert has thrown for 481 yards, two touchdowns and one interception with a 59.7 completion percentage.
Martin, a former quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame, praised Gabbert's accuracy and noted he had a quick throwing motion. Gabbert is shorter than his older brother, standing 4 inches shorter at 6 feet.
The quarterback's decision-making needs to improve. Gabbert fumbled in the red zone against Cincinnati after holding onto the ball too long, Martin said, but the coach liked his approach as a young passer.
“He'll have another great test of poise and confidence this week,” Martin said. “So far, he's handled all the big moments and it hasn't seemed too big for him.”