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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

The Wright starting quarterback

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Edward Wright-Baker.

I was sitting in the student section with some friends at the beginning of the 2009 season. We arrived early to get the best seats and caught a good portion of the warm-ups.

I noticed former wide receiver Tandon Doss and former quarterback Ben Chappell. I watched running back Darius Willis and former wide receiver Terrance Turner.

But then, an athletic kid wearing No. 7 walked out and started to throw. He had a strong arm and looked a bit like his idol, Michael Vick.

My friend saw the same thing. He turned to me and said, “Who is this guy? Why is he not our quarterback?”

Wright-Baker wasn’t ready at the time. I later found out he was pretty inaccurate and even more inexperienced.

But the raw talent I saw that day was undeniable. That talent is a major reason why he opened this season as IU’s starter and why the job is and should be his.

There’s no reason it shouldn’t be. Wright-Baker’s ceiling is higher than that of both Dusty Kiel and Tre Roberson, and he’s shown a great deal of improvement since he arrived in Bloomington.

In the spring, I thought the job belonged to Kiel. Everybody did. He was the safe choice, and Wright-Baker didn’t look like a starting QB. He appeared to be a little out of shape, and he continually missed on relatively easy throws.

But Wright-Baker clearly did something during the summer. He’s quicker now than he was at any point last season, and he is much more accurate.

“When he first got here, he was maybe watching a few too many Michael Vick highlights,” said Duwyce Wilson, who was part of the same recruiting class as Wright-Baker and has become one of his favorite targets. “He wanted to run it a little bit. But he adjusted, and now he’s throwing when he needs to and running when he needs to. He’s improving every day out in practice and in the film room.”

IU Coach Kevin Wilson, for one, has not been entirely pleased with his QB. He still hasn’t officially named him the starter going forward.

Please.

Wright-Baker is still young, and he makes plenty of rookie mistakes.

He misses a lot of open receivers because he gives up on his progressions too early and starts to run. Call it the Vick complex.

Wright-Baker hasn’t been in the film room as much as Wilson would like. Wilson can’t force him to be in there, but it’s something most quarterbacks just do.

“I got school and stuff still,” Wright-Baker said. “I do need to get in there more — more than what I have been. It was different between me and Ben because I have more classes than what Ben was taking last year. Ben had more time on his hands to come and watch film.”

Wright-Baker has lost two fumbles in the last two weeks — both in key situations. He still doesn’t feel pass rushers very well at all.

“It’s a wake-up call,” he said. “I have to hold the ball with two hands when I’m in the pocket and hold it tight. I’ve been getting out of the pocket and holding it with one hand, and I’ve been hurting myself.”

And Wright-Baker hasn’t quite grown into the vocal leader the Hoosiers need him to be.

“I’m not as vocal as I should be right now because I believe I gotta show what I can do on the field first before I can start yelling at people,” he said.

He may have his faults, but Wright-Baker certainly has the right attitude. Combine that with his talent and desire to get better, and you’ve got your starting quarterback.

Just don’t tell Wilson I called him that.

Prediction

Just call this a confidence game before the Big Ten season.

North Texas has statistically the worst defense in the country and Wright-Baker is getting more and more comfortable in Kevin Wilson’s offense.

The Hoosiers will score early and often to even their record before the schedule gets more difficult.

IU 31, N. Texas 13

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