Football coaches at any level will be the first to tell you that the summer workouts are critical for a team’s success, particularly for quarterbacks and wide receivers as they work on their timing and develop a chemistry that will help carry their teams on Friday nights.
Belle Chasse (La.) wideout James Wright finds himself in a predicament, though, where working out with his team isn’t an option.
Every summer, Wright heads to Dallas to spend some time with his father and brother. Belle Chasse must break in a new quarterback for the 2009 season since Blake Matherne – 2008 Mr. Football in Louisiana recipient – has graduated.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Wright, who hauled in 47 passes for 1,056 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior, may not be working out in Belle Chasse but that doesn’t mean he isn’t busy preparing for his final season on the prep level.
“I’ve been here in Dallas since June and I’ll return home on Aug. 6,” Wright said. “I’ve been working out with personal trainers and we live close to a YMCA so I go over there and get my weightlifting in when I’m not working out with my trainer.”
Wright’s personal trainer is former NFL receiver Kelvin Martin, who spent 10 years in the league with Dallas, Seattle and Philadelphia from 1987-1996.
Under the tutelage of Martin, Wright has tried to focus his time and energy into honing his skills on the gridiron while he’s been in Dallas but he has still given a little time to the recruiting process.
“I stay in touch the most with coach [Larry] Porter and coach [Les] Miles from LSU, coach [Burton] Burns from Alabama, and coach [Lincoln] Riley from Texas Tech,” Wright said. “I still talk to Stanford a little bit too through email.”
“My dad actually called coach Porter today [Monday] to check in with him and I’m going to be calling him up too just to check in with him,” he added.
Porter coaches the running backs for LSU but also serves as the area recruiter for New Orleans and the surrounding area. The two have kept in close contact since Wright attended LSU’s Junior Day the last weekend in January and they continue to foster that bond.
“We have a good relationship that keeps building,” said Wright, who also mentioned receivers coach D.J. McCarthy as someone he is close with at LSU. “We’re getting to know each other more in regards to football and also personal stuff.”
Wright reports 19 scholarship offers from the likes of LSU, Texas Tech, Alabama, Stanford, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Tulsa. He says that he hasn’t received any mail while he’s in Dallas so he isn’t sure if more offers are waiting on him when he returns home.
Out of the 19 overtures, Wright said that he hasn’t zeroed in on any certain schools and is keeping his options open but it would appear that the schools he stays in contact with the most are leading the pack.
“I haven’t narrowed it down to five yet but I’m getting close,” he said. “When I do narrow it down I feel comfortable about LSU, Texas Tech and Alabama being in there. After that there’s a bunch of other schools that are pretty equal.”
Wright said that he hasn’t learned any new information on the schools he’s looking at and he isn’t leaning in a particular direction at this point. He did say, though, that the offer he received from LSU on June 6 has made him look at the Tigers in a different light.
“That offer made things a lot different because before I didn’t know how much they really wanted me,” explained Wright. “Now, I have a good idea and LSU is real high on my list.”
There are several factors that have the Tigers high on the three-star wideout’s list and he expanded on those, along with his thoughts on the other two schools that have a good chance of making his final five.
LSU – “LSU always produces a lot of great receivers and they’ve sent plenty to the league the last few years. I’ve also seen how good the academic support is and as a student you have everything to succeed.”
Texas Tech – “I visited Texas Tech a couple of weeks back and got to see more of their academic side of things. They throw the ball a lot which is a big plus and their offense is similar to ours.”
Alabama – “I’m impressed with the way Nick Saban has built the program up and they have a great program like the other two [LSU and Texas Tech]. I’m anxious to get over there and see things.”
Wright said that he hasn’t decided on his official visits but he plans to take some in the fall. For now, he’s concentrating on his senior season with fall camp only a couple of weeks away.
“I’m extremely excited about this year,” said Wright. “My main goal is to be better than I was last season with all of the little stuff like my route running, my blocking, cuts, everything. I just want to be better because if I’m better then I feel like I can help make my team better.”
With all of the hours spent on the practice fields this summer, Wright feels that he has accomplished part of that goal with the help of Kelvin Martin.
“I think my feet are getting a little bit quicker,” said Wright. “Working out with the wide receivers coach, he has taught me some little tricks that will help me in the long run. He’s teaching me how to get some better separation and how to get in and out of my breaks better. He’s helped me a lot.”