Scooby leads salute to Arizona's 2-star recruits

Scooby leads salute to Arizona's 2-star recruits

By Anthony Gimino / Special for Tucson News Now

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Antoine Cason. Trevin Wade. Juron Criner.

Former two-star recruits at Arizona.

David Douglas, D'Aundre Reed.

Two more two-star recruits at Arizona who played in the NFL.

Scooby Wright.

The Arizona Wildcats' football past is littered with out-of-nowhere success stories - Tedy Bruschi almost assuredly would have been a two-star recruit, out of five, had the rating system existed back when he signed in 1991 - and the team's present is made better by the presence of several players who were mostly afterthoughts on Signing Day.

Start with Scooby.

He's been a big topic of discussion since Arizona's 49-45 Hail Mary victory over Cal on Sept. 20, when Wright made a career-high 18 tackles, including four for loss, two sacks, and forced a fumble. He then triumphantly took to Twitter past midnight to post this:

"They wouldn't give me the time of day," Wright said of Cal, about an hour south of his hometown of Windsor, CA.

"It definitely motivates me. I'm not going to deny it. People don't think you're good enough. It definitely drives me and motivates me."

It's hard to miss his "TwoStarScoob" handle or the chip on his shoulder from being overlooked, not only by Cal, but the rest of the Pac-12 teams not named Arizona and the recruiting services, such as Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.

"Half the thing was that nobody saw me and hadn't heard of me," said Wright, a sophomore linebacker.

Funny how it all works out sometimes.

Consider the Wildcats' three biggest playmakers on defense:

Wright was a two-star recruit by Rivals and Scout. So, too, was senior Tra'Mayne Bondurant, a senior safety/linebacker. And senior safety Jared Tevis was a no-star walk-on.

Want more current and key Arizona players who were two-star guys according to at least one recruiting service? Safety Will Parks. Linebackers Cody Ippolito and Derrick Turituri. Wide receiver Trey Griffey. Offensive linemen Mickey Baucus, Fabbians Ebbele and Lene Maiava.

They didn't move the excitement needle on Signing Day, but they turned out OK, right?

This is not to argue that you don't want to see those four- and five-star recruits on Arizona's list on Signing Day. The macro-statistics of recruiting say that five-star prospects have a better chance of making it big than four-star kids, who contribute more than three-star recruits ... and so on.

That Alabama has won three of the past five national championships goes hand-in-hand with the fact that Coach Nick Saban has the highest-rated recruiting classes in that span.

But on a micro-level, you never know.

Sometimes you get a first-round draft pick like Cason or one of the most prolific receivers in school history like Criner. Both were rated two stars by Scout. Wade, even after 15 games in the NFL, wears his former recruiting rating as a badge of honor. His Twitter name remains @TwoStarWade.

Arizona was the first school to notice Wright and stuck with him while he stayed under the radar.

"I remember thinking, 'This guy is a really good player,'" Coach Rich Rodriguez said when asked his impressions of the first time he saw Wright. "I immediately asked, 'OK, so who else do we have to beat to recruit him?' and it wasn't really a whole lot."

It figures that Wright's favorite player growing up was another northern California kid - Bruschi. It might make you feel old that Wright, when he arrived at Arizona last season, didn't initially know Bruschi played for the Wildcats. He just knew Bruschi from his years with the New England Patriots.

They quickly shared one thing in common. They each started their first game as a true freshman.

Wright ended up starting 12 of 13 games last season at strong-side linebacker, making 83 tackles and earning Freshman All-America honors by 247Sports. Moved to middle linebacker, taking departed Jake Fischer's place (as well as his No. 33 jersey), Wright has 51 tackles, seven for loss and four sacks - all team highs in advance of the Wildcats' game at No. 2 Oregon on Thursday night.

"Scooby Wright has been our most consistent player on defense," Rodriguez said. "If Scooby wasn't making plays, we'd have been struggling even more at times."

Rodriguez likes to call all his recruits OKGs - Our Kinda Guys - but that's been the philosophy, without the catchy nickname or Twitter hashtag, at UA for years. Much of that was born out of necessity. The Wildcats didn't have the facilities to lure the elite recruits. When they tried, they often finished second.

Rodriguez, armed with the still shiny-and-new Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, has a more equal playing field when he finds the intersection of highly-rated recruit and OKG. But the emphasis remains on OKG - on finding, evaluating and signing a guy perhaps only Arizona believes is good enough.

"I knew I was better than some of the guys that other schools recruited," Wright said. "I'm just one of those people who like to prove people wrong."

Anthony Gimino has covered University of Arizona athletics for more than two decades, including as the football beat writer for the Arizona Daily Star and the columnist for the Tucson Citizen.

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