No pedigree, no problem for WVU's Wright
MIAMI SHORES, Fla. - Jorge Wright doesn't have quite the same pedigree as some of his other, more heralded, south Florida teammates in West Virginia's football program.
He's not from that Miramar High School pipeline that runs right next to Sun Life Stadium, site of Wednesday night's WVU-Clemson Orange Bowl. The Miramar spotlight glare doesn't bother Wright, however.
"No problem," he said. "Miami is Miami."
Wright, the Mountaineers' starting nose tackle, is a product of Dr. Michael Krop High, which is located east of Miramar, and in the north sector of Miami-Dade County, Ives Estates just off I-95.
Teammates Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey may have been able to sit on their porches as kids and watch NFL Dolphins' games on the stadium JumboTron, but the Orange Bowl still is a home game for Wright, a redshirt junior.
"It's a big accomplishment," Wright said of the Orange Bowl, "being from here, being able to play in a great game you grew up knowing about, where you saw players that you idolized playing. It's a really big deal for me."
What's left unspoken is that as recently as six months ago, Wright might not have been playing, period, for WVU as the nose successor to NFL rookie Chris Neild, much less in a bowl.
On the eve of WVU's spring game, Wright was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors, for carrying a deadly weapon without a license and possession of a controlled substance.
Then-WVU Coach Bill Stewart allowed Wright to play in the spring game, then suspended him indefinitely. When Dana Holgorsen replaced Stewart in June, the new coach continued the suspension, which kept Wright from working out in the Puskar Center facilities.
Just before preseason drills began, Wright was reinstated, and Holgorsen said he was satisfied with how the matter was being handled legally.
Wright eventually went to court this past fall, a WVU athletics source said, and charges were dropped. Wright had been driving a borrowed car and the gun and marijuana in the car belonged to the car's owner, as Wright explained in court.
Fast forward several months, and the 6-foot-2, 281-pounder is established in the middle of the 3-3-5 stack's front line.
"He's doing well and he's been solid all year," Holgorsen said of Wright. "That's obviously an important position in the defensive scheme that we run to be able to hold his own and let guys like (linebacker) Najee Goode make a whole bunch of tackles.
"He's doing well, but there's always room for improvement. (Defensive line coach Bill) Kirelawich cusses at him at a very, very, very high rate for a reason."
When Wright returned to the program and regained his starting role, the veteran line coach said the Miami native had "the power, he's got great hands, I think he's got somewhat of a natural feel of the position. He doesn't run great, but he runs well enough. He's a physical guy and I think he enjoys the ebb and flow of what goes on in there."
Wright's role in the Orange Bowl against the No. 14 Tigers figures to be significant. He often has to fight double-teams and part of that will include Dalton Freeman, Clemson's star center and Rimington Trophy finalist.
Other than that, Wright's worry this week back at home has been trying to add to the six tickets each player gets to a bowl game.
"Whoo," Wright said, smiling, when asked how many tickets he needed. "My six, plus about another 6 at least. I'm trying to secure some more. I could use 25-30, if I could get them.
"All of the guys from here are trying to get them. We trade among ourselves, and if a game comes up next season that's close to a guy's home, you trade back. That's how it works."
Wright said the late-season improvement in the Mountaineer defense "was mostly about a unit that had replaced seven 2010 starters "figuring out what was what."
"I think it was just a matter of jelling," Wright said, "learning how to play as one unit, not everybody running around trying to do their own thing. It was about learning how to play within the framework of the defense."
Wright, who has 37 tackles and 11/2 sacks, isn't in a position where those hits are crucial. A good play for him, he said, is "a tackle for loss, tackle at the line, or making sure (opposing linemen) stay off the mike (middle) linebacker."
A good game for Wright is the next one.
"I can't wait to get onto that field," he said. "I was there a couple times, going to games as a kid, Dolphins games, it's going to be great to be on that field finally.
"I've always wanted to play there, in that stadium. The only way to play in that stadium (as a Miami high schooler) is to go for a state championship or go to playoffs. I never had that opportunity, to get down there.
"It's going to be great."