All the Wright Stuff

While the West Virginia defensive staff was largely comfortable with the play of its starting linemen during spring practice, the work has just begun in terms of establishing depth at the position.

Veteran position coach Bill Kirelawich spent much of the spring working with the players who will have to fill in for stalwarts like Scooter Berry and Chris Neild come the fall.

Neild's backup may be set in stone, as Kirelawich expressed satisfaction with the performance of Josh Taylor in the spring.

The recipient of the Tommy Nickolich Memorial Award as the Mountaineers' most outstanding walk-on has impressed the coaching staff enough to likely earn a scholarship.

But the battle to see who will earn the chance to play in Berry's stead remains undecided.

One of those vying for that job is freshman Jorge Wright.

The Miami, Fla., native took advantage of his redshirt year last fall and said the time off has helped him develop.

"I feel like (redshirting) made me a lot better," Wright said. "There's a lot of new techniques coming from high school. I got to sit in on all the meetings. I watched film and listened to what the coaches were telling the older players. That made me a lot better for this year."

While taking a cerebral approach to learning what Kirelawich was teaching the West Virginia defensive lineman a year ago, Wright also took advantage of the fact that he didn't have to physically recover from games and spent extra time in the weight room.

"I gained about 10 or 15 pounds," said the 6-foot-2, 270 pounder. "I definitely have gotten a lot stronger from where I was coming out of high school. I think I'm overall a better athlete now."

While work in the weight room helped Wright become a better athletic talent, Kirelawich said it is only through work on the field that a young player can develop into a contributor.

"(He's a) typical freshman," said Kirelawich of Wright. "He's a work in progress, but he improved an awful lot in spring practice. I thought he got better, but he has a lot further to go."

While the veteran assistant coach continues to search for Berry's backup, he said that Wright has not yet established himself as the front-runner for that position.

"When you're in the second unit, that means you go into games," Kirelawich said. "If you go into games, you had better be able to know what you're doing down cold. He doesn't yet."

It's the mental side of playing along the defensive line that continues to hold back the redshirt freshman at this point.

"I think physically, I can compete and I'm good," Wright said. "(My struggles) are just more mental, learning the plays and getting acclimated to the system. I think it's going to come with time and work -- more work than time. I've just got to put in more effort."

While he continues to push for his younger players to develop quickly, Kirelawich said it is a tall task for even a second-year prospect like Wright to be able to jump in to being a regular contributor.

"This is a hard position for an upperclassman to play." the defensive line coach said. "It's a real hard position for a freshman to play. For a guy to come in that early (and contribute) -- I'd love to see it. And he'll have the opportunity to do it."

To make the most of that opportunity, Wright knows it will take a lot of effort throughout the summer and a solid showing in fall camp for him to realize his goals for this season.

"I'm going to get stronger, get faster and work as hard as I can during camp," Wright said. "When the season starts, hopefully I can make the traveling squad."


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