Scooby Wright loved having fellow linebacker Jake Fischer around.
As a senior, Fischer helped the freshman break down film, learn his assignments faster and adjust to the speed of the college game.
Fischer also made it easier to fit in — but maybe not the way you’d think.
Listed at 6 feet 1 inch and 230 pounds on last year’s roster, Wright liked not being the runt of the litter. Fischer, at 6-0 and 221 pounds, held that title.
“I was looking at that today; I was looking around and was thinking, ‘Man, I’m kinda short now,’ ” a smiling Wright said last week.
Of course for Fischer, his lack of height never hurt his production. The Ironwood Ridge High School grad finished his UA career with 283 tackles and led the team in stops each of the past two years.
So Wright will take over the role as the short man of the linebacker group, but also hopes he can have the same type of production as Fischer.
The sophomore-to-be from Windsor, Calif., is obviously off to a good start.
Wright tied for third on the team in tackles last season with 83 and was second in tackles-for-loss with 9½.
This spring, Wright is wearing Fischer’s No. 33 and playing middle linebacker like his mentor did last season. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel said Wright isn’t at middle linebacker to stay, but wants him to get comfortable at all three spots, so he has the flexibility to move him around in the fall.
“I think he does have some of the same traits as Jake,” Casteel said. “He’s a tough kid. He has leadership qualities. He’s probably not as vocal because he’s still the young guy. But football is really important to him. He studies his tail off, watches a lot of film and asks a lot of questions. ...
“We just have to try to continue to develop him fundamentally and with his footwork, where he’s not wasting steps and those types of things.”
The Star chatted with Wright about trying out new positions, Fischer, his leadership qualities and the linebackers as a group.
On opening the spring at middle linebacker: “I’m just trying to learn as much as I can. Playing the middle backer, you have to know the outside spots, too. I’ve experienced those both last season, so it’s helped. I like playing the middle spot more because you can play more sideline-to-sideline and that’s what I’m used to. You can fly around more and play more downhill and physical.”
On Fischer: “I learned a lot from Jake. He always broke it down for me. I was one of the freshmen that played, so every time we got something new, he’d say, ‘Hey, you got this?’ I’d have a couple of questions and he was always trying to break it down for me. He’d always watch film with me. The one time that really sticks out for me is the Cal game, when we switched up the nickel defense. I usually didn’t play the nickel defense, and I had to play middle backer that game. Everyday after practice, we’d go in and watch film for an hour or two and that would really help me out a lot.”
On being a leader: “I try to be more vocal and lead by example and just play how we want Arizona football played. I try to be hard edge, physical, play fast, no loafs and always running to the ball. That’s the way I want to try lead guys.”
On having a bond with fellow linebackers DeAndre Miller, Derrick Turituri and Jake Matthews, all of whom played as a true freshman, like Wright: “We definitely have a bond. We all experienced everything together. I’ll never forget running out for the NAU game with DeAndre. He looked at me and was like, ‘Dude, you’re starting.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, God, I really am, we’re about to do this.’ Ever since then, me DeAndre, Turituri and Jake Matthews, we’re all close to each other, we have a special bond. All the linebackers do. They’re all super nice guys. We’re trying to help each out.”