UF safety Wright stuffs em
Published: Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.
That's the best way to describe Major Wright during his high school days at St. Thomas Aquinas.
The safety became an instant celebrity among Internet message boards with videos of him laying out helpless receivers and running backs who dared enter his side of the field.
While pummeling smaller and slower high school athletes was a weekly chore for Wright, delivering big hits at the college level requires a different thought process. Wright was physical enough to inflict bone-jarring hits, but his technique was off, causing him to miss relatively easy tackles last season.
“Major Wright is a guy that would try to take your helmet off every time he hits you,” UF coach Urban Meyer said. “And that's good if you do it, but you have a tendency to drop your head and he missed some tackles last year and he started off spring missing some tackles.”
The spring has been a bit up and down for Wright. He missed a couple practices and the first full scrimmage with a fever that began as a sore throat. When he's been on the field, he's been solid at times, but Wright admits there's still improvement needed in his game.
“It's a bunch that has changed for me,” Wright said. “It's just me going through a time period where I'm still learning, but I'm helping others out.”
Wright was recruited as a strong safety, but took over the free safety spot from Kyle Jackson the week of the Auburn game. Wright finished with 67 total tackles and one interception. He also led the team with four forced fumbles.
Wright's stats look good, but he said he's got more things to do this spring then just improve his numbers in the fall. With seniors Jackson and Tony Joiner both gone, it's Wright's job to step up and help lead a secondary that gave up almost 260 passing yards a game last fall.
“When I came in (Jackson and Joiner) helped me out with the plays because I was kind of slow-pacing it, but those guys kept me on my feet and kept me level and just worked me in between things,” he said. “It really just taught me to just go and help out other guys. Knowing that I was helped, I could just go out and help other guys too.”
Safeties coach Chuck Heater said that he's not expecting to see Wright take on the accosting role of Joiner. That's not Wright's style. Wright's style is leading by example and only speaking up when he has to. Heater said it is Wright's play that will make him a leader, not his mouth.
“He's the type of kid that can be that kind of (leader),” Heater said. “He's a real mature kid and does all the right things. (He's) certainly the type of guy that can earn respect by saying something. He's still a young player, so it takes a while. For the most part, players should lead by great practice example, great performance, and then guys start following them. I don't worry much in what they say. I'm much more interested in what they do.”
Leadership aside, Wright could be the complete package this season at safety. If this unit wants to improve from its dismal fall, Wright will be a key figure.
“I have a lot of confidence, being as I have a couple of games under my belt, knowing what the receivers are doing, studying film, and I'm just getting better as a person and as a (player),” he said.
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