Waiting His Turn

Sitting out for a season of a sport that you've been playing your whole life is difficult for anyone. Redshirted players always hope for action on the field, and it can be hard for them to accept the fact that they just aren't ready to play.

Last year, freshman Jorge Wright fell squarely in that group, as he had a hard time understanding why he was redshirted in his first year at WVU.

"At first, [redshirting] kind of felt like a put down," admitted Wright. "After the weeks went by, I started to see myself getting better. I was getting stronger and getting smarter about the things that I needed to do on the field. It ended up being better for me." Sitting out for a season not only allows players to improve their strength and conditioning, but it allows them time to study plays and schemes. There's a big difference in the body type and strength of an 18-year-old as opposed to seniors that are 21 or 22, and the maturity gained in that year of game inaction is also invaluable. While sitting on the sidelines, many redshirted players can learn from others' mistakes as well.

"I felt like I learned a lot [last season]," said Wright. "By the time spring came, I was ready. Every game, we had to watch on the sidelines so I knew what my mistakes were."

This season, Wright, who showed steady improvement on the practice field in 2008, is vigorously competing to see playing time behind veteran defensive lineman Scooter Berry.

"I think my camp has gone good," said Wright. "I've been working hard and trying to get better. I feel like I have improved on a lot of things. I'm just trying to get better every day."

Wright realizes that the fight to get on the field will be a difficult one. Even though WVU is searching for another lineman or two in order to bolster depth on the defensive line, he knows that a spot won't be handed to him just because he's listed as a second teamer. Coaches emphasize that backups must be able to come in and play at the same intensity level as the starter, and hopefully equal the productivity of the player in front of him as well. With Berry being one of the biggest parts of the Mountaineer defense, Wright has a lot to live up to.

"Scooter is a great athlete ,so it makes me work like ten times harder than I probably would have because he's that much better than me," said Wright. "I'm trying to get to where he is. He helps me with a lot. He knows the game. He knows how quick everything is. He knows exactly what I have to do because I'm his backup. He's a mentor."

Another one of Wright's mentors is defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich. The veteran coach has proven to be very helpful to the young lineman, although the veteran coach's blunt style took a bit of adjusting to.

"Coach [Kirelawich] is tough," said Wright. "He helps you a lot. He knows what he wants and he knows exactly what you need to do to get better. His method is always a way to improvement. My high school coaches were tough too but his methods are different. It took awhile to get used to but I think I'm good."

It's clear that Wright has learned a lot and made a great deal of progress during his time at West Virginia. He realized the benefits of his redshirt year, and is working to become a player that can be counted on in the rotation. While he hasn't locked that role down yet, the potential is there.

"Jorge shows flashes and he is a talented kid," said defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. "He is still very young and he is still adjusting to having to play with your hands and do some things technique-wise that you have to do at this level."


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