AUBURN, Ala. — Since Auburn's Pro Day ended last month, Gabe Wright has settled into a daily routine.
Wake up. Head to the local Max Fitness to work out. Stop by Kage Fit later in the day to do some mixed martial arts. In between, there have been "six or seven" meetings with different NFL teams. Otherwise, Wright is focused on continuing to eat right to maintain his weight; at 300 pounds, the former Carver star said he's exactly where he wants to be.
But there's one other thing he's had time to take up in the past month: golf. He had never played before, but Wright said he was invited to take part in a round by one of friends at Auburn.
Now he's hooked.
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"I ended up falling in love with it," he said, before launching into a short breakdown of his game. "I can hit the ball now. I used to miss. So at least I'm hitting the ball long and strong, I've just a huge slice. So I wouldn't say I'm 'good' or anything — especially not good enough to compete."
Which is fine. His future isn't tied to the links, anyway. It's to the gridiron. And come this time next week, Wright will likely be one of the members of the NFL's 2015 draft class. According to the feedback he's received, Wright is expected to go between second and fourth rounds.
But the only thing he really cares about is getting selected at all.
"The plan is just to get a shot. If I can just get a crease, then I know enough about myself that I know I can do the rest, that I can get the job done. Of course, everyone wants to get drafted high and if you've got a high regard for money. But the league minimum being what it is, I don't think that should be your main goal," he said in a phone interview last week. "Mine is just to be the most impactful player possible. ... Then I'm sure the money and the fame and all those other things will come, things (other) people try to rush to happen. So if it's the second round, so be it. If it's fourth, fifth, sixth, so be it. I'm just blessed enough to be living out my dream."
When he receives the call, he'll be surrounded by his family. After contemplating a few options, Wright decided to keep it a tight-knit affair, renting a house near Lake Martin for the occasion. Wright said he hasn't really given much thought to the moment itself just yet.
"People ask me, 'Are you excited?' Typically I wear my feelings on my sleeve," he said. "You can see whether I'm in a good mood or a bad mood. But I've been pretty low-key."
That being said ...
"I'm pretty sure there will be some tears. There will be some jumping around," he said. "I can't wait. But at the same time, I'm patient."
That second-to-fourth round projection is consistent across the board. In a mock draft on NFL.com last week, Wright was slotted to go in the fourth round to the Denver Broncos with the 110th overall pick.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has had Wright listed among the top 10 defensive tackles available this year.
"I think Gabe Wright is going to play in this league," Kiper said in a teleconference last month. "There's always a place for a guy that can do the things that has shown he's capable of doing. You're probably going to get him in the third or fourth round."
NFL.com analyst Charles Davis was also sold on Wright's ability.
"The latest one (I) have had a man crush on is Gabe Wright from Auburn," Davis said in a teleconference last week. "I saw him use his hands with strength on plays that made me say, 'Hold on a second. I've got to take a look at this guy.'"
Ask Wright if he'd prefer to go to a playoff contender or an up-and-comer, and his response is the same: it doesn't matter.
"My complete focus is just Gabe Wright and that's how I think most people should be," he said. "You can't be caught up with what people are saying about the team. A team can win the Super Bowl and the next year go 3-13. You really don't know. So I don't think I'll give any thought as to how good the team is before or after I'm drafted."
There is one team he grew up following closely, though: the Carolina Panthers. He idolized former Panther defensive lineman Julius Peppers, his favorite player. But he quickly rattled off the names of other members of the 2003 NFC champions.
Quarterback Jake Delhomme. Running back (and former Auburn great) Stephen Davis. Receivers Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith.
If Wright actually was taken by Carolina, it means he would get a chance to be Cam Newton's teammate.
"I think that would be pretty cool. I never got a chance to play with him (in college), but we talk every now and then. I think that would be a great opportunity," Wright says, before pausing for dramatic effect. "I wouldn't mind sacking him either, though."
For Wright, this coming week is the culmination of years of hard work. He readily admitted he wouldn't be in this position without the many people who mentored him while he was going through the Muscogee County School System, from Eastway Elementary to Rothschild Middle to Carver High.
To all those who have helped him along the way, Wright had a message.
"I want everybody back home to know this ain't the end," he said. "This is only the beginning."