Gimino: Scooby Wright already attacking rehab

Gimino: Scooby Wright already attacking rehab
Anthony Gimino
Anthony Gimino

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -- A day after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean up torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright was itching to start his rehab.

"He's like, 'Dad, it's time to get back to the football facility,'" Phil Wright told on Monday afternoon after he returned home to northern California. "I drove him to campus, he got out of the car, put the crutches over his shoulder and off he went.

"I dropped him off this morning before I flew out and he was talking about doing the water treadmill today."

OK. It's safe to exhale now.

Any injury to Wright -- a returning unanimous All-American and multiple award winner as the nation's top defender in 2014 -- is no small deal. But when the junior came limping off the field in the first quarter of Thursday night's opener against UTSA, it seemed as if this could have been Arizona's nightmare scenario, that Scooby's junior season could be over after just one tackle.

Coach Rich Rodriguez on Monday, basically confirming various media reports over the weekend, said Wright is expected to miss three to four weeks. The very optimistic edge of that projection would put him back for the Pac-12 opener against visiting UCLA on Sept. 26, but a more realistic target is Oct. 3 at Stanford or Oct. 10 vs. Oregon State.

Phil Wright said the relatively minor nature of the injury was "absolutely" a relief.

"He was pretty mad at first," Phil said. "He was really upset when he thought it was a longer injury. But the more time went on, the better the picture got, and then came relief."

The worry was somewhat alleviated at halftime, when it was evident that Scooby wasn't showing signs of a torn ligament. The family was able to take Scooby for an MRI exam in Friday's early morning hours, and they were back at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility later that morning, meeting with doctors, trainers and coaches.

It was at this point that the family was cautious, eager to seek out multiple professional opinions.

"I tell you this, the school was first class," Phil said.

"They were on him immediately with two or three doctors, and then helping me and my wife get a second opinion for ourselves and for our knowledge to make sure. ... I know of five people who chimed in who we got a professional opinion out of, which was awesome. They were very, very helpful in everything they did. No egos. You couldn't ask for anything better.

"And their facility is state of the art."

Once armed with all the necessary information about the injury, the family and the school moved quickly to have surgery done Saturday. While doctors cleaned out the meniscus, they confirmed that the knee ligaments were sound.

"Once they got in there, the injury was less than they even could have thought," Phil said.

Scooby was able to return home that night, walking around the house without crutches.

"I think he's going to come back even stronger than he was before," Rodriguez said. "Knowing Scooby, he will be chomping at the bit, but we will make sure, and the trainers will make sure, that when he is coming back, he's coming back 100 percent ready to go."

This is the only the second significant setback of Scooby's career. The first came when he suffered a leg injury in what turned out to be his final high school game at Cardinal Newman. In a North Coast Section Division 3 semifinal playoff game in 2012, Cardinal Newman went up 17-0 on Marin Catholic in the first half, but Scooby left the game late in the second quarter.

Marin Catholic, led by a quarterback Jared Goff -- now a prime NFL prospect at Cal -- rallied against the Scooby-free defense, winning 42-37.

While this won't be a complete season for Scooby, at least Arizona fans aren't looking at another Rob Gronkowski, who missed his junior season with the Wildcats because of a back injury before leaving for the NFL.

Phil said the family does have a "good-sized" injury insurance policy on Scooby, who likely will have a decision to make after this season about whether to enter the NFL Draft.

That discussion can wait. It's full-speed ahead toward getting back on the field as soon as possible.

"No one will rehab better than Scoob," Phil Wright said. "I'm sure these few weeks will be longer than what he is going to want."

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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.