Gabbert sees handful of reps in Miami football’s spring showcase

OXFORD — Brett Gabbert made his way out for a quick series of 7-on-7 reps during Miami’s annual spring showcase on Saturday inside the Dauch Indoor Sports Center.

He questioned months prior whether he’d even be throwing a football again.

But the RedHawks senior quarterback didn’t seem to skip a beat as he completed a handful of passes before heading back to the sideline.

“You’ve always got to shake the rust off,” Gabbert said. “You’ve just got to progress back into it.”

He has — at such a pace that he’s expected to retain his QB1 status before Miami travels to Northwestern to open the 2024 season.

“It’s actually doing really well,” said Gabbert, who described the mental and physical recovery process from the season-ending leg injury he sustained against Toledo at Yager Stadium midway through the 2023 campaign.

“Recovery has been going well since I had surgery in October,” Gabbert added. “Way ahead of schedule. Just got to keep it that way and try to get ready for the season.

“At the end of the day, you’ve just got to have belief and perseverance. There’s always going to be bumps in the road. I’m just kind of staying the course and progressing really well.”

Miami head coach Chuck Martin said Gabbert’s ambition to get back to full strength is noticeable. Gabbert is third all-time at Miami in passing yards, passing touchdowns and total offense.

“He’s been amazing,” Martin said. “I always say it started when he was on the field and his bone was sticking out of his leg. I thought I was in some horror movie. I was not equipped to really handle that moment. But our medical people were.

“He squeezed the heck out of my hand because he was obviously writhing in pain,” Martin recalled. “He tells me, ‘Coach, we can win this game.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, he’s probably hallucinating.’ He goes, ‘We can still win the league, Coach. You know we can still win the league without me.’

“Just from there, he’s been really good. Just how hard he works. He’s always a leader by example. So it was great to see him out here doing some 7-on. He’s close to getting back to full-go, but he’s up to 7-on. The next thing is him doing 11-on-11. We’re super excited about his progress. He brings a lot to the table from a player, but he also brings a lot to the team from a toughness standpoint.”

The defending Mid-American Conference champion RedHawks bring back nearly all of their offensive line from last season, and Gabbert said that’s where it starts.

“We have a very experienced O-line — a very good O-line,” Gabbert said. “So it all kind of starts up front. Whenever we’re able to run the ball well, that just opens up the pass game. We’re able to protect and throw the ball, that opens up the run game. So it kind of works hand in hand.

Martin said Gabbert has taken Thomas Gotkowski under his wing and helped develop the freshman quarterback throughout the spring. Miami’s quarterbacks listed on the spring roster got their fair share of snaps Saturday.

“We do have a bunch of new faces here, and I’m sure there will be new ones here in the summer,” Gabbert said. “But we’ve just got to keep working on timing, and everything else will take care of itself.

“A lot of guys in the offseason had surgery after the season. Some guys had surgery in spring ball. So a lot of young guys have been able to get in reps that probably would not have gotten as many reps as they have. I think all of our young guys, whether it’s been offense, defense, special teams, have gotten better all throughout spring.”

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