By now, most college football fans have heard of Scooby Wright. Even though they might not have seen him as much as some other hyped defensive players while he's participating in #Pac12AfterDark, they know the name.
If there is a legendary football player that has his name attached to an award, then chances are that Wright won it. He won the Lombardi award, Bronko Nagurski award, Jack Lambert award, and Chuck Bednarik award last year for his dominant play on the field. All of this and he was only a sophomore!
And, yeah, he won all of this and has been this good as a linebacker for Arizona, after only being ranked a 2 star recruit with no other Pac-12 offers. It wasn't just other Pac-12 schools that snubbed him though. He didn't receiver any offers from Mountain West schools either.
Wright isn't shy when talking about how being snubbed by other schools and being seen as an afterthought by recruiting sites has motivated him. Heck, his twitter handle is @TwoStarScoob. We know that motivation has helped him become the player who racked up 139 tackles, including 27 of them for loss, last season. But it's more than hard work that got him to where he is now as a player. There had to have been talent there combined with that work ethic that everyone missed out on.
It's been documented that Wright tested out well athletically in high school. He made the Oakland SPARQ Nike football all-combine team in May of 2012, the spring heading into his senior season. (He's listed with his given name of Phil Wright) It got me wondering about how that athleticism translated to the field at that time. With the obvious benefit of hindsight and knowing how he has turned out as a player for the Wildcats, I went back and took a look at his high school tape to try and find answers as to why so many people missed on him.
After watching it, I'm really unsure of how no one but the Arizona coaching staff recognized what kind of player Scooby Wright could become because he certainly showed a ton of potential from what I could see.
I saw a player who is a violent tackler that hits through people. I saw a player with great instincts that did a nice job scraping to find the football. He recognized plays quickly and attacked downhill by taking good angles and not taking a lot of false steps.
It's apparent he was not facing the greatest competition, but he dominated that competition. He was great at taking on the iso and shedding to make the play. He brought that same level of intensity when taking on an offensive lineman that tried to block him as well. He blew up guards repeatedly when blitzing, yet also showed the ability to get skinny get through creases when rushing the quarterback as well. There may have been questions about him in coverage as he looked to have been spying the quarterback more than dropping the majority of the time, but he also showed that he could recognize screen and beat blocks to shut down the play.
That's just him as a linebacker too. I don't even need to mention the athleticism he displayed running and catching the football on offense or the awesome effort and tackling he showed on special teams. There was really not a lot that I didn't like that I saw from him on the field.
Now, he did look undersized and perhaps there was a question as to how big he was and was going to become. Considering he is now up to just under 250 pounds and just finished his sophomore season in the Pac-12, anyone who questioned how he big he was going to get seems to be have been way off the mark.
So what's the explanation for Steve Sarkisian's staff at Washington for seeing him in camp and not offering? The only thing I can think of is that a camp setting is not where Wright would shine the most. Playing 11 on 11 with pads on is a much better chance to show what he can do than running around in shorts doing drills. Why did Cal think he should look at Big Sky schools instead of be a Golden Bear? I'm not really sure. Why in the world wouldn't teams like San Jose State or Fresno State think a northern California kid who had looked that good on film wasn't worth an offer? It's a bit mind boggling.
Wright getting snubbed could all be a product of the evolution of the recruiting process. With recruiting being sped up more quickly than ever, the recruit who doesn't receive early attention may be getting passed over by schools and the recruiting services. Three of the major recruiting services already have begun ranking the 2017 recruiting class these prospects aren't even in their junior year yet. Instead of finding sleepers in the current recruiting class, perhaps they are missing out because of the focus on younger players?
It's tough to say why he was a 2 star recruit or why Arizona was his only offer because it doesn't make sense why he wouldn't have been at least a 3 star player and receive more interest as a recruit based on his film. It's an obvious mistake that I'm sure recruiting sites and other schools in the Pac-12 could take back. They would all gladly jump in the DeLorean and gun it to 88mph to get a chance at being right about Scooby.