Former Olive Branch football standout K.J. Wright was waiting to walk across the stage at the Mississippi State Graduation last Saturday when he got one of the most important phone calls of his life.
“I was just sitting down with my phone in my hand,” Wright said. “I just ducked my head and talked to them.”
No one took Wright’s phone because on the other end was Pete Carroll, the Seattle Seahawks General Manger, and he was telling Wright the Seahawks wanted him to be their fourth round pick in the NFL draft.
“I was just happy that I was able to graduate and get drafted at the same time,” Wright said. “The four years I put in, in school and football, I was able to celebrate on the same day. I was walking around all day with a smile on my face.”
Wright said he had a knot in his stomach all day and couldn’t wait to hear all of his hard work paid off.
Wright played 47 games at Mississippi State, starting in 35. He racked up 258 tacks, 31 of those for a total loss of 101 yards.
He made 10 sacks for 57 yards, knocked down 14 passes, forced three fumbles and hurried the quarterback 11 times.
“This means a lot, we’re excited for him,” said Kenneth Wright, K.J.’s father. “We’re proud of K.J., now if the NFL will hurry up and start playing some football.”
The elder Wright said he has been watching his son play football since he played peewee in fifth grade and never thought early on that he would go this far.
“We wouldn’t let him carry the groceries when he was a kid because he was so clumsy, he had big feed,” the elder Wright recalled. “But he outgrew it.”
Wright is spending his time in Olive Branch currently, working out and waiting for the NFL lockout to end.
As the lockout approaches an end, Kenneth Wright said they will go to Seattle and help K.J. Wright settle in.
“I’m going to work out and stay in shape and as soon as the lockout is over, I’m going to go to Seattle, make the team and contribute as much as I can,” Wright said
Before being picked by the Seahawks, Wright played in the Senior Bowl and participated in the NFL Combine where he first talked to Seahawks representatives.
He was invited to private workouts as well as team visits with the New Orleans saints and Atlanta Falcons.
“It’s a privilege to have those people interested in you,” Wright said. “When you go there, you’re just trying to do your best and sell yourself.”
Wright said competing against top tier teams and players in the SEC prepared him for the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.
He said the tough competition began at Olive Branch, playing teams like Tupelo, Starkville and South Panola.
“I had good competition and playing for those coaches helped me at state,” Wright said. “They taught me hard work.”
Both Wrights, father and son, played linebacker at Olive Branch and wore the number 34.
“He always said when he grows up he was going to make everyone in Olive Branch forget about me because I got some awards playing football,” said the elder Wright.