By Mark Janssen
Few Kansas State football players are savoring this trip to New York City and Thursday's New Era Pinstripe Bowl more so than Jarett Wright.
The 22-year-old talks like an awe-struck 12-year old as he says, "I catch myself just looking at that Powercat on my helmet. I'm just in awe of it. To know that I get to put that helmet on and represent Kansas State one more time is just an unbelievable feeling."
Wright, however, never gave up on his dream that started in tiny Burton, Kan., where he started his prep career before transferring to nearby Newton High School in his sophomore season where he describes himself as "... a slow kid playing linebacker."
It was at NHS that Wright showed his true colors of purple and white ... and it had to do with another postseason Wildcat game.
"The winter dance was the night of the 2003 Big 12 Championship game and several of us guys skipped out and went to the teacher's lounge to watch K-State beat Oklahoma," Wright reflected, adding a soft chuckle.
Ahhh, did you have a date, Jarett?
Accented with a bigger laugh, Wright said, "Yes, but she was understanding."
Wright, whose father was a bareback rider on the K-State rodeo team during his Wildcat years, continued his playing career at Butler County Community College in El Dorado for the next two years where he says he developed a "... toughness and mental focus for playing the game hard" for a team that won two national junior college championships.
"I'm a story of a guy who just kept plugging away, working hard, and developing my skills," said Wright.
At the end of the season, he says, "I was working out one day in the weight room and a K-State assistant asked me if I would be open to coming up for a visit," said Wright. "I couldn't say yes fast enough. I was being recruited by Old Dominion and South Dakota, so the decision was real easy."
This past year Wright earned his way onto the field through special teams play, and even as a middle linebacker when an injury shelved Alex Hrebec.
"The number of snaps was never important, but being ready for those snaps was," said the 5-foot-11, 224-pounder of his career. "The bullets really seemed to fly on those special teams, but for whatever reason, the game seemed to slow down and the game was clear when I was playing linebacker."
At those home K-State games Wright quips that he was cheered wildly by ... at least his five family members: "There were only five people in the stadium wearing No. 48 jerseys. My family has provided great support throughout my career."
Now, the door is about to close on Wright's career at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York City's Yankee Stadium against the Syracuse Orangemen.
"What a great way to cap off my career," Wright said. "It's been a dream come true."