How Arizona’s Scooby Wright is training to crush even more skeptics

Doubting Scooby Wright does not seem to go out of style.

Casey Sapio/Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Two-Star Scooby has heard another wave of skepticism, which means he has more people to prove wrong … which seems to be the way he likes it. 

This time, it’s doubters who question if Scooby Wright is athletic enough to be an impact player in the NFL. Wright, training in Miami for next month’s NFL Scouting Combine, was asked if he’s heard the mock-draft speculation that he’ll end up a middle-round pick.

“Yeah, it’s kinda hard not to hear that,” he told FOX Sports Wednesday, adding that he’s heard people talk about how he won’t run better than a 4.8 40.

“I know what I can do. I’m not stressing out about it [the skepticism], but I am working my tail off."

In 2014, Wright produced one of the most dominant seasons any college defender has had in decades. As a sophomore, the Arizona linebacker won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award, all given annually to the nation’s top defender. Two-Star Scooby — an homage to his middling recruiting ranking — produced staggering numbers: 163 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and 14 sacks. More importantly, he led Arizona to the Pac-12 South title.

However, Wright injured his meniscus in Arizona’s 2015 opener (requiring surgery that caused him to miss a few games), and he suffered a sprained foot that sidelined him for the rest of the regular season. Wright returned for the New Mexico Bowl and led Arizona to a win over New Mexico by making 15 tackles, three TFLs and two sacks. Wright’s production is even more impressive when you consider just how much attention he got from rival offenses. After all, it wasn’t like he was surrounded by many other NFL prospects on the Arizona defense. In fact, in the bowl game, he was actually bigger than the Wildcats’ starting nose tackle.

In Miami, Wright has been working hard with trainer Pete Bommarito to get a bit smaller. By the end of this season, Wright was 254 pounds. “I couldn’t really run this year because I was in a boot for eight weeks,” Wright said. “All I was able to do [while injured] was lift, and I got as much cardio as I could on the bike.”

In a little over three weeks of training in South Florida, Wright told FOX Sports, he’s shed 18 pounds and is down to 238. Bommarito also changed the way Wright eats, putting him on a low-carb diet, which means lots of fish and chicken and no bread. Wright said he played at 245 in 2014 and plans on testing at the combine at 238.

He didn’t want to speculate on any combine testing numbers. He clocked a 4.73 and ran a 4.13 shuttle at 254 pounds last spring when he was timed at U of A. Wright, a former high school shot-putter and long jumper, is optimistic he can time under 4 seconds in the shuttle in Indy since this is the first time he’s ever trained for it. The fastest time in recent years for a linebacker in the shuttle at the combine was 3.96 by Ohio State’s A.J. Hawk and Montana’s Jordan Tripp. The fastest shuttle time by a linebacker last season was Kansas’ Ben Heeney at 4.00. 

“I’m just excited about all of this,” he said.

Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FS1. He is also a New York Times best-selling author. His latest book, “The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks,” came out in October 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB and Facebook.