Jackson and Wright Take Different Paths to Land at UW

Aug. 22, 2002

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -

Roderrick Jackson was an all-district wide receiver at CopperasCove High in Copperas Cove, Texas. Teammate Gary Wright was an all-districtand an honorable mention all-state safety.

The two went in opposite directions to play college football. Jackson signedwith the University of Wyoming, while Wright headed to Vanderbilt.

But the former high school teammates have been reunited at UW, and areplaying a different position than they did during high school -- cornerback.

Jackson, a junior, is penciled in as the Cowboys staring boundarycornerback. Wright, a sophomore, is UW's starter at field cornerback.

Wright started UW's final five games last season at cornerback, and isregarded as the Cowboys' best cover man. Jackson recorded nine total tacklesas a reserve cornerback last season. He was also UW's second-leading kickoffreturner with 11 returns for 201 yards.

Injuries and a lack of talent forced UW to play more zone defense the pasttwo seasons. This season, Jackson and Wright will be the main cover men on adefense that will look to play more man-to-man coverage and blitz a lotmore.

"I love playing man-to-man and I love being out there on that island,"Wright said. "I feel like if I can take someone out of the game, that's oneless person for the rest of the defense to worry about.

"It's a challenge every day. You have to learn how to forget stuff prettyfast because as a corner, you're going to get beat sometimes. It's achallenge, but I love it."

The two are almost carbon copies of each other physically. Jackson is5-foot-11, 164 pounds. Wright is 5-9, 168.

But their paths to UW were anything but similar.

After the two graduated from high school in 1999. Even though he playedreceiver most of his prep career, UW recruited Jackson as a cornerback.Jackson has played sparingly in his first two years at UW, and has recorded18 tackles in 20 games.

After signing with Vanderbilt, Wright soon discovered he didn't like it. Hereturned home and spent the fall of 2000 in Copperas Cove. He then signedwith UW and enrolled in school in January of 2001. In his freshman seasonwith the Pokes, Wright played in all 11 games, recorded 22 tackles and hadone interception.

Wright recorded one of three interceptions in the teams' first scrimmage offall camp last Saturday.

Both never imagined they would both end up in Laramie, but both are happy tobe here.

"It wasn't planned, but it's a big plus," Jackson said. "It helps a lot withus knowing each other and being close. We know what each other likes, whateach other doesn't like. Communication is very good between me and Gary."

The communication will hopefully be good on the field between Jackson,Wright and the entire UW secondary this season. So far, UW coach VicKoenning, who is also coaching the Cowboys' safeties, has liked what he'sseen.

"I think our corners are playing very well, especially Wright and Jackson,"he said after UW's first major scrimmage of fall camp last Saturday.

Jackson and Wright agree they have learned a lot about football from eachother dating back to their high school days when Wright would sometimesguard Jackson in practice. The two were part of a strong tradition offootball at Copperas Cove, and they hope to help bring the tradition of"Wyoming Tough" defense back to UW beginning this season.

"We can't to it by ourselves, but we think we can be a big part of ourdefense," Jackson said.