Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Can a player coming off a historic season, in which he finished Top 10 in the previous year’s Heisman vote, really be considered a sleeper?
When that player is on defense, absolutely. Just this week, Sports Illustrated‘s Zac Ellis contended that the proliferation of high-scoring, uptempo offenses around college football have made winning the Heisman even more difficult for defensive players.
Considering just one has ever claimed the award, that’s a pretty weighty statement.
Ellis’ primary point is true: The eruption of offenses lend quarterbacks to putting up bigger numbers than at any other time in college football history.
The flip-side of that, however, is a special defender can rack up some awfully impressive statistics himself. That’s exactly what Scooby Wright did last season for Pac-12 South champion Arizona.
If he wasn’t leading a major category, he was right near the top.
One-hundred and sixty-three tackles. Twenty-nine tackles for loss. Fourteen sacks. Six forced fumbles. One of those forced fumbles, a strip of Marcus Mariota, sealed Arizona’s upset win in Autzen Stadium, which was something of a landmark win for the Wildcat program.
Wright interjecting himself into big plays in more marquee, Arizona wins should turn moderate Heisman chatter permeating this offseason into a full-fledged buzz throughout the fall.