Last season for the University of Arizona, Scooby Wright surely did have the right stuff when he recorded 153 tackles, 14.0 sacks, six forced fumbles and 29.0 tackles for loss. Thanks to a massive 246-pound, 6-foot-1 frame and unbelievable quickness and agility, Wright dominated opposing offenses in 2014 and won both the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik awards for Defensive Player of the Year, something that hasn’t been accomplished by a U of A player since Rob Waldrop did so in 1993.
In 2015, I expect Wright to be back and better than ever as he is older, bigger, faster and stronger than he was in his junior season. Another reason why I am predicting bigger and better things from Scooby is that he is coming back smarter. Typically players are forced into starting positions with little to no starting experience at all during college. Wright has two years under his belt and can use that already expansive football intelligence in 2015 against offenses that he has already faced once or twice before.
Per ESPN’s Ted Miller, Scooby Wright, a disrespected recruit, is angry and hungry to make opponents pay for not giving him a chance. “It might defy logic or the conventional notions of water under the bridge and bygones and letting stuff go, but Scooby Wright, college football’s most decorated defensive player, is still mad, still cultivating the chip on his shoulder that endures because it fuels his play as much as the beating heart inside his broad chest.”
The last people to win back-to-back Bronko Nagurski or Chuck Bednarik awards have been Aaron Donald and Manti Te’o (the 2013 and 2012 winners). To win one award was already impressive enough for Wright. But to win both? Now that is something special.
This season, the Wildcats will be taking on some formidable opponents that could keep Wright at bay in terms of his production. Top-25 teams such as UCLA, USC and Arizona State will be playing Arizona this season and feature stacked offensive lines. Wright will have to have huge games against these Pac-12 rivals in order to be a front-runner for the Nagurski.
What is on Wright’s side is the fact that Oregon, a team in which he was held to minimal production in 2014 (seven tackles and one sack, a season-low for tackles), is left off of Arizona’s schedule.
Arizona’s schedule will be UTSA, Nevada, UCLA and intrastate rival Northern Arizona. Against UTSA (11 tackles, one sack), Nevada (14 tackles) and UCLA (18 tackles, three sacks) last season, Wright did exceptionally well and should see similar or better results this year.
After all, it was Scooby Wright who was named a First Team All-State as a senior and Second Team as a junior, MaxPreps Div. III First-Team All-State, Cal State All-Star Game selection, PrepStar All-West Region and All-Redwood Empire Defensive Player of the Year.
Scooby Wright is going to repeat as the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik winner. It’s only logical, after all.