Wright ready to roll in Sugar Bowl

NEW ORLEANS – Jeremy Wright has becomes the featured guy in the backfield for the University of Louisville since Senorise Perry suffered his injury against Syracuse. Wright has over 1,000 all-purpose yards heading into the Allstate Sugar Bowl game on Wednesday when the Cardinals face Florida.

University of Louisville junior running back Jeremy Wright went on a visit to the University of Florida'S Friday Night Lights recruiting event as a junior at Clermont, Fla., East Ridge High School.

Wright rushed for 4,133 yards and 43 touchdowns in three seasons on the varsity level in the Sunshine State.

"I remember going to Florida and they wanted me to play cornerback," Wright said. "I guess they overlooked me.

The Gators will get a chance to see what they – and a bunch of other schools – passed up on Wednesday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Wright is the featured back and has over 1,000 all-purpose yards for the Cardinals this season.

"This is a big stage and a big chance for all of us, not just me," Wright said. "And this is a big opportunity for me to show them what I could have been."

Wright, who was recruited to U of L by former coach Steve Kragthorpe's staff, was a first-team All-State Class 6-A player as a senior. He ran for 2,707 yards as a senior, which ranked second all-time in state history only behind Emmitt Smith's single-season rushing record in Florida.

"I don't know why more guys weren't on him (recruiting him)," U of L offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. "He's a really, really good football player."

Wright said he had over 16 scholarship offers, picking the Cardinals over Florida International, Iowa State, Middle Tennessee, Troy and Colorado State others.

"I had about 10 or 11 schools that kept me close to signing day," Wright recalled. "I told the schools whoever wanted to keep me up until signing day and that would be the school I would go to. It worked out for me."

Wright even at one point said he "wasn't planning on going to college. It had never happened in my family. I was from a small school."

But he went to college and it's been a huge success.

Wright, who graduated earlier this month with a major in health and human performance, was a redshirt in 2009 and then was second on the team in 2010 with 327 yards and four touchowns.

He was injured prior to his sophomore season and said he never felt healthy, finishing third on the team with 334 yards on 73 carries. He was in a battle for the starting spot this season and has started every game.

But before Senorise Perry was injured, Wright split carries and the two became a dynamic duo. Perry had 136 carries for 705 yards and 11 TDs before his injury, while Wright has 186 carries for 740 yards and nine TDs.

Wright also has 38 catches for 306 yards and one TD and has 84 yards on kickoff returns for the Cardinals.

"A year ago, he was transitioning out of an injury," Watson said. "He didn't have the year that his talents said he could have from his previous year.

"But he's been a really good back for us. He just gets better and better and I don't think he's finished I think he can be a great back, he just needs more time to develop it. He's on his way to doing that."

Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said on Saturday that his unit has taken note on how many runs Wright "gets out and gets on the edge."

"They have a lot of 15, 20-yard gains," Quinn said. "And a majority of those came as bounce out or cutback type of runs."

Wright said he's "really focused," on this game and knows how much the success the Cardinals will have likely depends on how the running game can do.

"It's a great opportunity," he said. "I can't wait to get going, get out there and show people who I am."

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