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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wright the next Mike Thomas?

    Michael Ignatov/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Football Practice
    Michael Ignatov
    Michael Ignatov/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Football Practice

    In addition to replacing its quarterback, the Wildcat coaching staff is forced to find a replacement for Mike Thomas, one of the most productive players in the history of Arizona football.

    While replacing Thomas is no small task – given he was the most prolific receiver in Pacific 10 Conference history – wide receiver William “”Bug”” Wright is emerging as the leading candidate.

    The slot receiver pulled in 5 catches for 52 yards and also chipped in on the ground with four carries in Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage. Wright showed his superior quickness and agility, shaking would-be tacklers on several occasions during the 85-play scrimmage.

    “”(Wright) has done a nice job playing inside and really is comfortable in there, runs the ball very effectively, is very effective in the things that we like to do at that position,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”He gives us the speed and quickness of a Mike Thomas.””

    Whispers of the similarities between Thomas and Wright can be heard across the practice field, and the reasons stretch much farther than their relatively diminutive heights, as both are listed as shorter than 5-foot-9.

    Both players line up primarily as the slot receiver when the offense is on the field, but their talents aren’t limited to catching the ball. Wright will be used on the ground this year on reverses and slot options as well as a returner on special teams, much to his delight.

    “”That’s my bread and butter right there,”” a confident, cheery Wright said after practice on Wednesday. “”That’s where I make my money.””

    Wright, a high school quarterback, redshirted his freshman year in order to learn the in’s and out’s of a slot receiver in the Arizona offense. Given all of its responsibilities, the position demands a lot from its players, and fortunately for Wright he was able to learn from a soon-to-be pro.

    “”Everything I’ve learned, (Thomas) taught to me, and I’m just trying to do that now,”” Wright said. “”He is a great player, and it’s an honor to be compared to him.””

    Considering that Wright never played receiver until he got to Arizona, his progress has been remarkable, and the coaches are overwhelmed with what he has shown.

    “”The thing with Bug is that he hasn’t played in many games, so we are making a conscious effort of getting him the ball (in practice),”” said offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”Bug has really done a lot of good things, and I really like what he’s done up to this point.””

    Through hard work and a drive to be as good as he can, Wright has firmly placed himself as the No. 3 receiver in the lineup, giving Arizona one of the most potent receiving corps in the Pacific 10 Conference.

    “”I’ve been doing pretty well,”” Wright said. “”I’m trying to make an emphasis on playing with speed and quickness, and the coaches see that when I get the ball, I make plays. Any way I can help out the team, I want to do it.””

    If Wright continues to grow into his potential, he’s bound to give opposing defensive coordinators headaches.

    But until then, he’ll settle for giving his own defensive coaches headaches.

    “”That’s why he’s the Bug, because he’s very hard to get ahold of, he’s just squirmin’,”” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoop. “”You think you get him tackled and the next thing you know he gets five yards.””

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