Days after his freshman season, Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright got all 13 game tapes together and checked himself out on camera.
He didn’t like what he saw.
“You don’t even want to know,” Wright said. “I made so many freshman mistakes.”
That’s pretty hard to believe with the statistics that Wright put up. But he’s adamant that’s the case.
In his first season at the UA last year, Wright, an under-recruited player out of Cardinal Newman High School in California, played in all 13 games and had 83 tackles and 9½ tackles-for-loss. He was stationed at the “SAM” linebacker spot and played outside, next to Jake Fischer.
He was named a freshman All-American by 247sports.com and second team freshman All-American by Athlon. He was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 pick, and his 83 tackles were the second most among Pac-12 freshmen.
All that, and Wright still didn’t think he was very good last year.
“I didn’t know anything last year because I hadn’t been through it,” Wright said.
So what did the linebacker do about it?
Wright added 16 pounds to his frame and now stands at 6 feet 1 inch and 246 pounds. The weight gain is noticeable, especially in the chest area. Wright said he’s now bench-pressing 405 pounds.
He made sure the added muscle didn’t impact his speed and quickness on the field.
Wright said the weight gain was necessary. On top of his freshman mistakes, the linebacker said too many times he couldn’t get by a lineman and was being blocked too easily.
To be the impact linebacker the Arizona coaches think he can be, some more weight had to be put on.
“I think it’ll help a lot,” Wright said. “Just to be able to extend your arms and control blocks and go downfield and feel comfortable to go stick a lineman. Between senior year (of high school) and freshman year, I was real lean and skinny and hadn’t been in a college weight room. Once you get into a college weight room, you put on a good mass and good weight.”
Wright will need the muscle even more this season. The linebacker moved to middle linebacker during spring drills and has been there for the first two days of fall practice as well.
Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel said in the spring the move might not be permanent, but Wright seems to have taken control of the spot.
“Because we have him in the middle a little bit more, it’s probably going to help,” coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He still looks like he’s just as fast, and Scooby has great instincts. I think the added weight and bulk will help him if he plays ‘MIKE’ ” linebacker.
His job now, despite learning a new position and trying to improve his game, is to be a mentor as a sophomore to the UA’s other linebackers.
Keoni Bush-Loo and Ironwood Ridge High School product Jake Matthews flanked Wright at the outside linebacker spots the first two days of practice. DeAndre’ Miller and Derrick Turituri could also occupy those spots.
The point is Wright has more experience than all four players, including Bush-Loo, a junior, who has just 10 tackles in two seasons. So it will be Wright’s job to make play calls and be sure the outside linebackers aren’t making the same mistakes he did.
“It’ll be good to be able to help them and see the things I went through and tell them this is that, this is this,” Wright said. “Now I’ll be able to help people that were in the same boat I was last year.”
He’s specifically excited about his roommate, Miller. The two watched film and worked out together all summer.
Wright is optimistic that his buddy, who had three tackles in 13 games last season, can make an impact this season.
“He’s got the perfect size,” Wright said of Miller, who is listed at 6-3, 230. “We’d just be sitting in the living room and one of us would be like ‘want to go watch film and work out?’”
Sixteen pounds later, it shows.