Wright with a unique opportunity

CLEMSON - After this season, there will only be a handful of players in Clemson history who are in the club Corico Wright will occupy.

Wright, along with Jonathan Meeks and Malliciah Goodman, will be the first three players at Clemson to go through their entire career with only Dabo Swinney as their head coach.

For the senior linebacker from Milledgeville, Ga., it's been an awfully fun ride.

"Like coach Swinney says. I've been to the outhouse and I've been to the penthouse since I've been here," Wright said. "I've learned a lot. I've met a lot of great guys. I've met my best friend here. It's just been an unbelievable experience.

"I encourage anybody to come. As long as coach Swinney is the head coach here, I would encourage them to come to Clemson, any recruit."

As a freshman, Wright played 119 snaps over nine games. He logged 19 tackles and a pair of sacks. Forty of his snaps and seven of those tackles were recorded in the Music City Bowl.

He was inserted into the starting middle linebacker spot when Brandon Maye went down with an injury in the week leading up to the bowl game.

"At first, I was scared. I was like, ‘Oh, crap,'" Wright said. "As a freshman, you get a rep here and there. When it's your turn to be that guy, you're nervous.

"I knew what to do. I knew the system real well by then, but it was just that everybody depended on me. And you had so many older guys on that team that really were intense and demanded [a lot]."

Guys like Marcus Gilchrist, Da'Quan Bowers and Jarvis Jenkins -- all strong leaders now playing in the NFL.

"They wanted the right call so I got a lot of pressure for them," Wright said. "I just prayed about it, went out there made the right calls and the right checks. We won the game and I was so happy to win. It didn't make any sense."

The solid play in the Music City Bowl vaulted Wright into the full-time starting job at middle linebacker.

Wright picks himself up after tackling Josh Nesbitt in 2010.
During his sophomore and junior seasons, Wright played 1,455 snaps. He was in on 151 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and recorded three sacks.

"It's been fun. We won a lot of been games. I played with a lot of guys that are playing in the NFL now and having a good career so far," Wright said. "I learned a lot from a defensive standpoint, what offenses like to do.

"Coach [Kevin] Steele, he taught me a lot. How to study and be a leader, more so than I was then, that whole transformation on how to be a leader for those other guys, I could go all day on how that experience went and how those guys laid their leadership skills on me. It's just been an unbelievable experience."

With the change in defensive coordinators came a change in position for Wright. When Brent Venables arrived to Clemson, he moved Wright from the middle to weak-side.

Wright doesn't seem to be bothered by the move. He said the jobs are essentially the same.

"We both cover the running back. We both cover receivers. We both have the a-gap, b-gap, depending on the call and offensive formation," Wright said. "That's what makes this defense so simple and so great, to just go out and play, just fast, fast, fast."

Always a team-first guy, Wright is enjoying the competition he's going through for the starting weak-side spot with Jonathan Willard and Tony Steward.

"Tig's a great guy. He comes out every day with high energy. He's working on his fundamentals and technique every day, getting better," Wright said. "He's a competitor. He's been taking notes. He went over and beyond what he's had to do to improve himself…we both have the same purpose, to come out here and make this our best year ever, and to win a national championship."

There are no hard feelings directed toward Willard. It's the same way with Steward.

"Tony's got a bright future. Unfortunately, he's in a position where he's got two seniors in front of him," Wright said. "But Tony's competing. Tony can play, despite the knee injuries. But Tony is going to play. He's going to contribute this year. Believe what I say, you'll see 7 on the field a lot this year."

According to Wright, there's a nice three-man rotation developing at the WILL position.

"We're loaded at WILL linebacker. The whole linebacker crew has unbelievable talent and those guys are young," he said.

Sounds like that young group of young linebackers has the right kind of leader to learn from this fall.

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