Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright announced his intention to enter the 2016 NFL draft immediately following the Wildcats’ 45-37 New Mexico Bowl win, to the surprise of none.
His pro declaration was one of the few unsurprising facets of Wright’s Arizona career, which goes down as one of the best in program history.
In essentially just two seasons — knee and foot injuries limited him to fewer than three games in his junior campaign — Two-Star Scoob made a Hall of Fame impact.
Hyperbole? Perhaps, though probably not. Scooby Wright had a tenure at Arizona comparable to All-Americans and Wildcat legends Ricky Hunley, Rob Waldrop and Tedy Bruschi. All three are College Football Hall of Famers.
Unlike Wright, however, none finished in the top 10 of Heisman voting, as Scooby did in 2014. He may not have been a member of a defense as imposing as the Desert Swarm squads Waldrop and Bruschi captained, but that sophomore campaign is arguably the most impressive individual showing any Wildcat defender’s ever had.
The full gravity of just how impacting Wright was in 2014 probably won’t be realized until a few years after he’s away from the Old Pueblo and deep into his NFL career. In that vein, it’s a shame that it may have taken a lost junior season to truly appreciate his contributions.
Arizona’s defensive effort in 2015 with Scooby shelved made as significant of a statement about his value to the Wildcats as his ball-hawking presence throughout 2014.
Moreover, Wright’s lost time may well have made his decision to eschew his final year of eligibility easier. Injury’s an omnipresent risk for that scant percentage of college players with NFL futures, hence the inane suggestions sophomore studs like Myles Garrett and Leonard Fournette sit out their junior seasons to reduce the risk.
Scooby Wright’s recent struggles with injury might fuel that narrative for some. His performance in Saturday’s New Mexico Bowl, however, instantly discredits any attempts to prop him up as a straw-man argument.
Wright could have skipped a pre-Christmas bowl game and it’s unlikely anyone would have blamed him. Instead, he capped his Arizona career playing with the same tenacity that defined him from the day he arrived as a lowly-recruited freshman. His final stat-line was quintessential Scooby: 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He also forced a fumble that didn’t go in the final box score, as it caromed out.
With a bright future ahead of him, Wright added one last chapter to his legacy.
— GildanNewMexicoBowl (@GildanNMbowl) December 19, 2015
An emotional Scooby Wright saying farewell after the New Mexico Bowl is an image of his Arizona career that will endure, much like his interception of Marcus Mariota in 2013, or win-sealing strip of the Heisman winner a season later.
Few could have seen Scooby Wright’s impact coming three years ago. But now that it’s come to close, no one can deny he’s among Arizona’s — and the Pac-12’s — all-time best.