Wright Off To Fast Start

FAYETTEVILLE — Jarius Wright was the surprise of Arkansas' preseason camp in 2008, catching passes throughout practice and showing the potential to become the Razorbacks' most productive receiver as a freshman.

When the season started, though, Wright was mysteriously missing. Joe Adams, London Crawford, Carlton Salters and Greg Childs all played early roles, while Wright couldn't make a dent in the opening night stat sheet.

"It was real hard watching everybody go out there and making plays," Wright said. "Knowing that I'm capable of going out there and doing the same thing. It was just hard."

Wright's sophomore season got off to a completely different start in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

The Warren native turned in the best performance of his career in Arkansas' 48-10 win against Missouri State. He caught six passes for 139 yards, displaying plenty of big-play potential in the Razorbacks' passing attack.

Wright wasn't the only Arkansas receiver to make plays — he was one of 13 players to catch a pass in the Razorbacks' deep offense — but his night was plenty impressive. In fact, he leads the Southeastern Conference in receiving after the first week of the season.

"It was a real big confidence booster," Wright said. "I think it's really going to help me when I go into Georgia and it's really going to help me for the rest of the season.

"No matter who it's against, it's showing me I can get out there and I can be the player to make the plays."

It was a big contrast from last season's opener, when Wright thought he going to make an impact but didn't catch a pass. He had six for 59 yards after seven games.

But Wright got more involved later, catching 13 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns in the final five games.

He said the final stretch helped him gain confidence, something that has carried over this fall. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said a year in the offense — as well as a year in the weight room — has helped Wright, too.

"He understands what it takes as far as practice and preparing for the game and then going out and executing in the game," Petrino said. "That was part of the growing up last year as a true freshman. He's much stronger and more physical this year, which helps him stay on balance when he's running routes and someone bumps him or on cuts."

Wright said he knew a big performance was coming Saturday because of his work in practice. He caught quarterback Ryan Mallett's first pass, then hauled in a game-best, 58-yard completion on the next drive.

Wright had five catches for 123 yards at halftime.

"It is a lot of fun playing in this offense when you have got guys that can catch the ball and go score at any time in the game," Mallett said about the entire group.

Wright knows there's no guarantee he'll continue to lead the Razorbacks in receiving throughout the season. Even though injuries have affected the group lately, Arkansas still has plenty of options like Adams, Childs and Cobi Hamilton.

But Wright enjoyed his career night against the Bears and wouldn't mind another big outing against Georgia.

"I hope so," Wright said. "I may not lead in receiving every game, but I'm going to try my best. Our receiving corps is way better this year and if I don't do it somebody else will."


Jarius Wright

Class: Sophomore

Position: Wide receiver

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 180 pounds

Hometown: Warren

Notable: Caught a game-high, six passes for 139 yards in season opener. ... Turned in longest play of the game with a 58-yard reception. ... Leads Southeastern Conference in receiving after one week. ... Caught 19 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 2008.

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