University of Colorado football got a big boost today when Yuri Wright—one of the country’s best high school cornerbacks—committed to the Buffaloes. But Wright’s decision to sign with CU comes with a public-relations headache that could follow the teenager well into the football season.
Two weeks ago, Wright was expelled from New Jersey’s Don Bosco Preparatory High School after messages from his Twitter account went viral. Several of his tweets were sexually graphic—and some had racial overtones—which reportedly scared off the University of Michigan and seemed to leave Wright’s recruitment in limbo. But then came word last week that Wright had verbally committed to CU, followed up with his official signing. “We understand that our role is to be a father figure and help [players] grow and mature into men and become productive members of society,” Colorado football coach Jon Embree said this week.
While teenagers are apt to do things they regret later, you have to wonder if Wright’s signing will be considered an affront to Boulder’s traditionally progressive campus. So far, Wright has been contrite: “I made a huge mistake,” Wright told espn.com (Insider only) earlier. “I definitely learned a valuable lesson, and I promise nothing like that will ever happen again. Everyone that knows me knows that’s not my true character or who I really am. I’m not going to sit here and try and make excuses for what I did. I’m just going to be a man and say I was wrong and I learned from it.”
In addition to getting a look from Michigan, it was reported that Notre Dame and other schools had been interested in Wright. Perhaps as a sign of how limited his options were after his tweets were made public—or maybe how far away from home he wanted to get—consider Wright’s Facebook post after visiting CU last month: “Pretty boring night last night out here in colorado [sic] headed home in a couple of hours can’t wait to get back…” From an athletics perspective, the tweets aren’t even the Buffaloes’ biggest worry. Right now, Wright’s academic status is undetermined. The Record, from Bergen County, N.J., reported last week that even if Wright attends a public school in his home state of New York, “he might not acquire enough credits to graduate.” As of this week, his high school future isn’t any clearer.
“I think it’s a great decision” to commit to CU, Wright’s former coach told the Record last week. “The important thing is that he’s headed off to college and a great university and he has a chance to be successful and not look back.” For the Buffs’ sake—and for his own—you have to hope Wright keeps looking back and that he doesn’t make the same mistakes again.