UNLV's Wright has glimpsed UH before
He was a USC redshirt in '03 when the Warriors visited
Eric Wright saw the Hawaii run-and-shoot offense at close range. Not as close as he will Saturday, but enough to get a good idea of what he and his UNLV teammates will be up against at Aloha Stadium.
"It's a complex offense that relies a lot on quarterback and receiver communication," Wright said in a phone interview yesterday. "It's difficult and challenging. Me playing cornerback, I'll be going up against a group of talented receivers."
Wright's first-person view was from the sideline at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 2003, when he was a freshman at USC riding out his redshirt season. He watched as the Trojans crushed the Warriors 61-32. Although most of UH's points and 462 yards were against backups, Wright did see how quickly the run-and-shoot can eat up real estate.
"We need to swarm and play hard," Wright said.
That's what he did at USC in 2004, when Wright worked his way into the starting lineup of one of the best teams in college football history.
But Wright ran into off-field trouble. According to published reports, he was arrested March 26, 2005, on suspicion of rape and ecstasy pills were found in an apartment he shared with another USC player. But charges were never filed because of lack of evidence.
Wright said he transferred to UNLV to get a new start.
"When all was said and done, I had to do what was best for me, mainly transferring out of that school," Wright said. "I'm glad I'm here. Everything's working out fine."
Auburn, Michigan State and Utah were also interested in Wright, but they had established athletes at cornerback, according to Wright.
He said it is coincidental that he transferred to UNLV just a few weeks after USC quarterback Rocky Hinds did the same. (Hinds, who started the Rebels' first two games, sprained a knee last week and is questionable for Saturday.)
"Me and Rocky were really good teammates, but not the closest of friends," Wright said. "It just sort of happened. I was in the middle of possibly transferring to a number of different schools and UNLV was the best decision for me."
So far, Wright has made it look like a good one by Rebels coach Mike Sanford and athletic director Mike Hamrick to give him a second chance. Wright has stayed out of trouble and performed to his potential in his first two games after sitting out last fall as a transfer.
He broke up three passes and forced a fumble in UNLV's 54-10 victory against Idaho State to open the season, and intercepted one in last week's 16-10 loss at Iowa State.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Wright also averages 23.0 yards per kickoff return.
He's one of three transfers from BCS schools in the UNLV secondary two-deep. Mil'Von James (UCLA) and Tony Cade (Oklahoma) are the others.
"We have a lot of brilliant athletes on our defense," Wright said.