Scooby Wright III may be best UA linebacker – ever

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                </div>  When you love what you’re doing in life, you have a much better chance of being really good at what you do. Scooby Wright III loves playing football.  And […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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When you love what you’re doing in life, you have a much better chance of being really good at what you do.

Scooby Wright III loves playing football.  And he’s really, really good at what he does.  With two more years of college eligibility left, the 6’1″, 246 pound linebacker could go down as the best at his position in the history of the University of Arizona program.  Of course, that career may very well be cut short by the NFL draft,

But maybe he’s there already.

His distinctive name may conjure up visions of the main character in a Hanna-Barbera animated TV series, but this Scooby is no joke.  Through 13 games this season, the young man from Windsor, Calif., piled up 153 tackles, 14 sacks, and six forced fumbles to play a major role in the Wildcats’ climb to the No. 7 team in the country before losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game.  He has been a quarterback’s worse nightmare all season long.

And his accomplishments didn’t go unnoticed.  His latest recognition came yesterday when the Maxwell Football Club announced Wright had been selected as this year’s winner of the Chuck Bednarik Award, presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding defensive player.

But that’s just the most recent of the high-profile awards he collected this week.  On Wednesday, he was named the 2014 recipient of the Rotary Lombardi Award, which honors the college player considered the nation’s most outstanding defensive lineman or linebacker.

And on Monday, the Charlotte Touchdown Club presented him with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, as that organization also considered him to be the nation’s most outstanding defensive player.

In addition, Wright was one of five finalists for the Walter Camp Award, which is given to college football’s Player of the Year.

All that attention made for a busy travel week for the young man who began life as Phillip and gradually evolved into “Scooby.”  After picking up the Nagurski trophy in Charlotte, NC, to had to be in Houston, Tex., for activities Tuesday and Wednesday surrounding the Lombardi presentation, and then jumped over to Orlando, Fla., for yesterday’s ESPN College Football Awards Show to be honored as the Bednarik winner.

Still ahead is a trip in the post-season when he will fly to Atlantic City for a March 13 ceremony at which he will be presented with the official Bednarik award.

Not bad for a kid that almost nobody wanted after he finished high school.  Arizona was the only Division I program to offer him a scholarship, a slight that he says continues to motivate him during every practice and every game.

He rewarded the faith the Arizona coaches put in him by becoming the first UofA player to win the Lombardi, by earning the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, and by being selected to this year’s All-Conference First Team.  He also ranks in the top five nationally among FBS players for total tackles, tackles for loss (28), sacks, and forced fumbles.

Wright admits to enjoying all this attention, but hasn’t lost sight of what got him all those awards.  “I’m having fun with it,” he says about traveling the country to pick up him trophies.  “(But) I want to get back to working out and back to practice.”

That practice time is in preparation for the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium.  The Wildcats will meet Boise State in the game played on New Year’s Eve.

Arizona’s head coach Rich Rodriguez is happy to point out the way his star linebacker approaches everything, from practice to the game: “One of the reasons his numbers (stats) are so high,” says Rodriguez, “is because of his effort.  You want everybody to do that, but it comes to Scooby naturally.

“He plays with a sense of urgency on every snap.”

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)