Hotshots’ Scooby Wright ready to make mark on defense
By Jose Romero / The Alliance
Scooby Wright III has been able to practice three straight days for the first time in Arizona Hotshots training camp, and can now make his case for a spot on the team’s final roster.
Wright, a former seventh-round NFL draft pick who starred at Arizona and spent time in 2016 and 2017 with the Arizona Cardinals, was on the field with the Hotshots on the first day of camp workouts in San Antonio. But an undefined illness that made him cramp up forced him out for several days.
When Wright returned, the condition did as well, and Wright underwent tests and further examination while being monitored closely by the Hotshots staff.
He admitted to feeling fatigued with heavy legs. But by last Tuesday and Wednesday he was running timed sprints along the sideline while practice was going on, and on Thursday he returned to practice participation.
“The strength coach did a pretty good job with me, getting me back and getting my legs back,” Wright said. “It was frustrating because at first they didn’t really know what it was. Now I just have to keep sticking with my protocol and I should be good.”
Wright credited his head coach, Rick Neuheisel, with taking care of the players’ bodies by not overworking them in camp, which he feels has gone a long way in fostering a good attitude among the players. He was determined not to let his recent condition stop him.
“You can’t have a victim’s mentality,” Wright said. “I was more trying to figure what was going on.”
Signed a week before minicamp, Wright was among the faces of the Hotshots at the team’s Media Day in December, along with quarterback Trevor Knight and former Arizona State players Will Sutton, Carl Bradford and Robert Nelson Jr. He arrived with plenty of credentials, having won numerous awards as a Wildcat sophomore in 2014.
Wright won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s top defensive player, and that same year was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
He was the heart of a Wildcats defense that basically asked him to play everywhere and be a tackling machine.
“I don’t even know what position you call it,” he said. “Just kind of rove around and play football. Our defense, the concepts were around what I was doing.”
After declaring for the draft in 2015, he’s bounced around practice squads and active rosters in Cleveland and Arizona. As recently as last summer, Wright got a full training camp with the Cardinals before being somewhat surprisingly released in the cut to 53 players.
The Hotshots eventually came calling, and now Wright is working at middle linebacker and on special teams.
“I’m playing the personal protector on (the) punt (team),” Wright said. “I got some reps on that in practice when I was with the Cardinals but no game reps, so I’m excited to get live game reps and go make some plays.”
In the time he has been able to practice, Wright has already left an impression. The day the Hotshots put on pads for the first time, Wright lowered the boom on a running back during team drills.
“This is probably the most fun I’ve had in football in a very long time,” Wright said. “I’m very excited and happy about the opportunity to show my skills with my teammates on the field.”
With more than a week until the Hotshots have to make final roster decisions, Wright has time to give the staff a long look at what he can offer. For the time being, he’ll have to take a few plays off as he gets back to what the team feels like is 100 percent.
“Scooby brought a lot of energy, and he always does,” Hotshots head coach Rick Neuheisel said Friday when asked about Wright. “That’s why you like him on the field. We’ll nurse him back to health and limit his reps to help get him to the dance.”
Jose Romero covers the Arizona Hotshots for The Alliance of American Football. Follow him on Twitter @RomeroJoseM