NFL Draft Q&A with Dwayne Wright

Fresno State running back Dwayne Wright had a stellar season in 2006, the type of comeback campaign that has teams quite interested in his services. We caught up with him for an exclusive Q&A where he details his season, his off-season to date, teams that have shown interest, what NFL backs he resembles, and much more...

Talk about the Hula Bowl experience. What was that like for you?

Dwayne Wright: It was a great experience. It was my fourth time being in Hawaii but this trip was more business. I met a lot of guys. One of my roommates was Paul Thompson, the quarterback from Oklahoma.

The experience was great. I had a great week of practice. The scouts wanted to see a lot of burst out of me and speed when I hit the secondary. I showed a lot of that. They didn't really have a good chance to see me in the season. I got a chance to show my hands a little bit too since I was catching a lot of passes out of the backfield. We had a lot of West Coast passers and it was just a great experience.

But, catching passes out of the backfield is nothing new to you. Did you feel like you had to show these skills because maybe they hadn't seen you play?

Dwayne Wright: I think I had to. I had to show all my skills. It is different from film and them getting to see you full speed in Hawaii. Nobody clocked me at a 4.71 – that was an estimated time. Whoever got that forty time – I was hurt and 75 percent at the time. I was pressured to run the forty. The year before that I clocked a 4.55 and that is my normal speed. I have been running that all my life or faster. I got a chance to show scouts my speed and my burst. I wanted to show them that I just don't have game speed but I can burst through the line and keep my speed through that.

Obviously, it is tough to get a feel for how they really like you but what were the conversations like – more about you as a person?

Dwayne Wright: At first they start out asking questions about your personality and then family and it starts to progress into more serious questions with your school and major and then real serious about what offensive schemes do I fit in, would I be a great asset to their organization.

What teams did you end up talking to out there?

Dwayne Wright: I talked to the Atlanta Falcons, the Cleveland Browns, the Seattle Seahawks and I also talked to the Raiders.

It was a busy time. Whenever they had a chance to talk to you as a person they did that.

Let's go back to 2004 and the left patella tendon injury you had.

Dwayne Wright: When I had surgery, before I went in the surgeon had told me it was like I got hit with a razor and someone had slit it straight down because there was no damage – it came off my bone. All they did in the surgery is repair it and put it back on the bone.

When did you feel healthy and then when did you feel comfortable without hesitation in games – perhaps two different things.

Dwayne Wright: The spring – my first spring practice. I took the ball on a dive play. I hit the hole and one of the D-tackles came free and hit me in my bad leg and I flipped and landed on my head. I knew right then I was ready because he hit me in that bad knee. Ever since that time I was doing great. We had some scrimmages in the spring and I ran hard, showed some speed, ran outside and after that I felt good.

You had a great season personally. Obviously, you want your own team to do well too but at this stage it becomes a little personal. Was it everything you hoped for?

Dwayne Wright: I am a team player to start off. It was hard because we had a lot of young players and some influence from outside sources. Personally, it was the biggest accomplishment of my life coming off the injury. I worked hard to get to where I had to get. The first game – that is a game I will remember for the rest of my life. My first carry I had a 23-yard run with four or five people on my back. I figured, ‘I am ready and it is going to be a great season.' After that, I knew I was going to have the season I had.

Being voted MVP of your team had to be special for you. It is one thing to be named MVP of the conference but this was your teammates voting – your peers.

Dwayne Wright: That meant a lot to me. Those guys know I worked hard and respect everyone. I am not an arrogant guy – they were voting for a guy who has the talent to go to the next level, a guy who is a leader, not vocally, but more lead by example, and I thank my teammates for voting for me.

I thought it was well-deserved. I took the team out of situations where we needed a first down or a touchdown. That is what the MVP is – a game changer that can make game changing performances.

What is the one area of your game that you feel you need to improve on before the NFL Draft.

Dwayne Wright: I am working more on my acceleration. Like I said, whoever started the rumor of my 4.7 deal with my forty, I think I changed that already making some noise in the Hula Bowl.

Does it seem like these three months are more important than your three years of collegiate ball?

Dwayne Wright: You know it is hard to say. I think they are equal but these three months are the most important of my life. This is the biggest job interview. You have to perfect everything in your game. Sometimes you get no sleep because you think about what you did wrong the day before or what you can change. It is the most important time and I couldn't want anything more. I could have a changed life.

Exactly. At the same time, you have a wife and two children. The dream is to play in the NFL but how difficult is it to separate yourself from the family man – taking time away now because you have to prepare yourself for this ongoing audition?

Dwayne Wright: It is hard. My wife respects that and my whole family and kids. Every time I have a chance I get I come home. During the week I am in Carson, California at the Home Depot Center and API training. Saturdays we have our free time. I come back at four in the morning on Monday so I have a chance to spend time with my family.

When six o'clock hits it is all about football and all about training. Once I am done with that I enjoy my family. My family understands that it is a business and I have to take it seriously.

How has API helped you. Having been out there I know how unconventional it is putting rubber bands around your legs and the one-legged training.

Dwayne Wright: One thing I did learn from being there two weeks is they do a lot of hip movement, a lot of base movement. When I went to the Hula Bowl it was weird because I was using my hips more – I had more movement. And that was just two weeks and I still have five more weeks to go. There is no telling where my training will take me.

The nutritionist is cool – I had never been on a diet before in my life. When I got on the scales for NFL scouts – I was weighing 230 during the season – and I got down to 223 when I hopped on the scale. That is a big change – they are predicting me to be 215-217 when the combines come around and that is going to add more quickness and more speed.

Dwayne Wright: That is not even a concern. Fresno prepared me for both worlds. Being a San Diego boy – we get the best weather in the whole country. Once I went to Fresno, though, it was more of a four season. It was always cold and hard for me to get used to it. It was always cold! I am used to a lot of climates. Wherever I play I will be productive.

What current NFL player or players do you compare favorably too?

Dwayne Wright: The people I respect the most are Frank Gore and Willis McGahee because of the knee injuries. Look at how well they are doing now. I pattern my game around them. They have had to face adversity and that is one of the biggest things I had to do. You see them run and you can't even tell they had an injury. A lot of people who watch me can't tell.

I am just a hard worker and making sure everyone is forgetting about it.

What is an NFL team getting when they select Dwayne Wright?

Dwayne Wright: I think an NFL team is getting a complete running back that has good speed when he gets the ball, great hands, great vision, can block, and can understand any offensive scheme. I have been in the west coast, the split back, the one-back, the I-formation, and I think they are going to have a great guy off the field that will respect his family and his fans.

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