Lakewood High School's James Wright was originally going to wait until Saturday to announce where he plans to play college football, but he just couldn't wait any longer.
On Sunday night, Wright took to Twitter to announce that he's heading to …
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On Sunday night, Wright took to Twitter to announce that he's heading to the sea to be a Pirate at East Carolina.
"I guess it was just God's timing," said Wright on the decision to move up his commitment. "(ECU) did what they had to do. They picked me up. I love the program and I made my decision. It kind of just happened this weekend that I figured it all out."
Wright had previously whittled his list down to his top five schools, which were ECU, Georgia Southern, Temple, Western Kentucky and University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
East Carolina was one of the earlier schools to offer Wright and has been in constant contact with the Lakewood rising senior. That relationship is what helped Wright make this decision. ECU was also one of the schools Wright was able to actually visit in person before the coronavirus pandemic limited his ability to travel.
"They offered me real early, and they've been there ever since," said Wright. "They built a great relationship. I feel needed and wanted there."
East Carolina is a Football Bowl Subdivision school located in Greenville, North Carolina, that plays in the American Athletic Conference.
ECU has had an up-and-down history. The Pirates were well known to the general football audience in 2007, as running back Chris Johnson gained nearly 3,000 all-purpose yards. He then set what was then an NFL Combine record by running a 40-yard dash in 4.24 seconds.
ECU has been on the downslide the last few years, having posted five straight losing seasons. Wright is excited to have the chance to help build the program back up.
"It's just exciting knowing that you can help build a program," said Wright.
Making this decision now was a relief for Wright, as he now has a little pressure taken off of him entering his senior season. Because so much is still unknown about the upcoming football season, Wright was glad to get this decision off his plate, even though he won't officially sign until December.
"It feels good. It feels like a big weight off my shoulders," said Wright. "I committed somewhere, I know where I want to go and now I can focus on my senior season.
Lakewood head coach Larry Cornelius knows how stressful the recruiting process can be, so he was glad to see Wright make a decision.
"I know James is glad to make this decision and be done with it as far as the decision-making process, because a lot of people don't understand the pressure that's put on you as a student-athlete when you're getting multiple offers," said Cornelius. "You're going to have these colleges texting and calling you, putting stuff on social media, and I think James just wanted to sit down and say, 'This is what I want and I can focus on my senior year.' "
Wright may have an opportunity to earn some playing time early if he puts in the work. ECU has two senior defensive backs this season, so there will be some openings at the position.
"When I get there, they'll have two seniors that have left, so I'll have a chance to play early as a freshman," said Wright. "It's real exciting."
Cornelius is familiar with East Carolina from his years coaching in both North Carolina and South Carolina, and he's made sure to stress to Wright the importance of hard work at a school like ECU.
"Even though it's smaller, it's very competitive," said Cornelius. "There's always athletes there and he's going to have to compete daily to have an opportunity to get on the field. And he knows that. He knows he's going to have to earn that time and just work hard and everything else will take care of itself."
Wright is planning on majoring in engineering at ECU to become a civil engineer once his playing days are done. He may graduate from Lakewood in December so he can get an early start at Eastern Carolina, but he hasn't decided on that yet. Wright is glad to have a place like ECU where he can prepare for life after football and still grow on the field. His goals for the gridiron are pretty simple: work hard.
"I'm just going in and working hard. You've gotta earn your spot," said Wright. "I'm just ready to play football."
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