This is the eighth in a series of Q&A's with Bi-City recruits in the Class of 2016. Coming Friday: Columbus’ Essang Bassey.
Players on teams that aren’t perennial playoff contenders often find themselves overlooked by major colleges when it’s time to move on to the next level.
For a long time, that was the case for Jordan linebacker Markus Wright, who had solid Division-I offers for a long time but still lacked one from a so-called Power Five conference until California extended one on May 20. A month later, the three-star linebacker committed to the Golden Bears.
An impressive athlete and, perhaps, an even more impressive personality off the field, Wright worked hard staying in touch with college coaches to ensure he wouldn’t slip through the cracks.
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He didn’t, and now he’s hoping to help put Jordan back on the map in his senior season and beyond.
Wright spoke with the Ledger-Enquirer about recruiting and his goals this week.
The process isn’t different for everyone. For you, it didn’t happen right away. When did things start to heat up for you?
At the beginning of my junior year, it was slow. But then it started to progress as I produced on the field and started to get a couple offers. Right at the end of the season when the highlight tape got developed, people started to show a lot of love, and I got a lot more attention. In December and January, I started to get a feeling I was going to get the right offer.
What was the toughest part for you — the waiting for the right offer or the actual decision?
There’s so many tough aspects to it, but it’s kind of between waiting for someone to give you the opportunity and choosing the final school. You build a lot of relationships with coaches, and the hardest thing is to tell them no.
Was there are a school that you really had a tough time turning down?
Definitely Army. Being so close to Fort Benning, we got a lot of military support when I got the offer from West Point. So when I chose Cal, there was some disappointment. It was tough to let them know I was going a different direction.
Have they talked to you about your skillset, what they like, that kind of stuff?
When they talk to you, it’s mostly about what they can offer you, but being a football player and seeing what they do at the next level, you know what you need to do to improve. I was told to maintain my weight so I could play outside linebacker or strong safety, but I know I need to improve on my speed and strength to take that next step.
I’m sure you set goals, but do you set any specific numbers or anything that you’d like to reach?
Of course. I had 95 tackles last year, so this year I’m aiming for 110. Last year, I had seven sacks, so I’m aiming for seven more. And I had five touchdowns, so I’m aiming for 10. I’m always all about improvement.
It’s your final season — what’s it like knowing you’ve made your decision and you can just focus on football now?
It’s an incredible relief. But the goal of playing football is to win and be the best you can be anyway, so my playing style isn’t going to change. This just makes me work harder.
What are your team goals? What would you like to see Jordan do in your final season there?
We want a winning season and a playoff appearance. If we can do that — it’s been such a long time for either one — so that would be a huge deal for Jordan. That’s our goal.
David Mitchell, Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.