Published 2:42 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2006
By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
It may not be at the level he would like, but former T.R. Miller Tigers quarterback Patrick Byrne is back in action with the University of Memphis.
Byrne, a 2002 T.R. Miller graduate, is participating in Memphis' spring training although he is being held out of non-contact drills.
It is the first football action for Byrne since he broke his right fibula and right tibia on Memphis' first offensive series of the season last fall against Mississippi.
After the injury, Byrne had a rod placed inside his tibia that will be there permanently.
One of the biggest items Byrne has tried to do in his rehabilitation program is regain mobility in his ankle.
The injury plus the current numbness in Byrne's foot may have ended his kicking career. Prior to landing the starting quarterback position last fall, Byrne handled kickoff duties the previous two seasons at Memphis.
Despite the injury and his limited spring work, Byrne, a redshirt senior, is still listed as the starter on Memphis' depth chart. Byrne
had won a tight battle with Will Hudgens for the starting job. Hudgens took over for Byrne after he went down, but two games later he too went down with a broken leg. Like Byrne, Hudgens is also being held out of non-contact drills this spring.
No. 3 quarterback Billy Barefield, who followed Byrne and Hudgens into the lineup, is also back along with Martin Hankins, who sat out last season after transferring from Southeastern Louisiana.
While glad to be back on the field, Byrne is disappointed he will not get a chance to Memphis' spring game. Byrne has won that game's Most Valuable Player Award two of the past three seasons.
Byrne is scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in sports administration. He will enter graduate school this fall.