LINCOLN — At 4, Buddha already was playing football in his living room, which was perfect since his dad was a college football star and six-year NFL veteran.
By then, Buddha probably shed the baby fat responsible for his nickname, given to him by his grandma. His teammates call him Buddha now. So did Nebraska fans when he made his official visit.
“It’s actually weird to hear Javin,” said Nebraska’s newest addition to the 2019 recruiting class.
Wright, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound cornerback from Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton High, announced his pick of Nebraska over UCLA on Wednesday, though Nebraska coaches had known for a week that the son of ex-Husker Toby Wright was headed their way.
It’s a choice Javin Wright long wanted to make.
He’d heard his dad’s stories about the 1992 and 1993 teams that won Big Eight titles. He’d known former Husker Lawrence Phillips, one of his dad’s close friends. And he knew about the black practice jerseys guys toiled for years to attain, and the tears they shed when one was hung in their locker.
Buddha’s coming to Nebraska for one of his own.
“I need to earn a Blackshirt,” Wright said.
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Nebraska needed more defensive backs. Wright — as long and lean as current Husker freshman Braxton Clark — will get a crack at corner, he said, because coaches think his footwork and technique — taught and honed by Toby Wright — is good enough for the position.
But Wright added that he could be more versatile. Maybe he puts on 15 pounds and becomes a safety. He didn’t rule out playing outside linebacker, if that’s what his best position becomes.
“I’m fine with playing in the box, but my real strength is my coverage ability,” Wright said. “I’m more of a cover corner who will still come up and smack you. I still have some Toby Wright in me.”
The elder Wright was a rover at Nebraska. As a senior in 1993, he had 73 tackles and three interceptions for a team that fell just short of the national title. The Rams picked him in the second round of the 1994 NFL draft. He played six years in the NFL and is now a personal trainer, Javin said.
Toby coached and developed Javin for years, but the tutelage became more serious once Javin reached high school and transferred to Hamilton. Along with Anthony Parker — an Arizona State graduate and a former NFL teammate of Toby’s — Javin learned how to play cornerback. He became a three-star college prospect who attracted offers from Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and UCLA. Nebraska wasn’t interested, Javin Wright said, when Mike Riley was coach.
That changed when new defensive coordinator Erik Chinander came to a spring practice at Hamilton. Chinander watched Wright work out and chose to offer a scholarship before he knew Javin was Toby’s son.
“I didn’t get an offer because I’m a legacy recruit,” Javin said.
But Javin’s ties to Nebraska didn’t hurt the Huskers’ chances, and his visit to NU for the Sept. 8 Colorado game had a better “vibe” than his trip to UCLA. Because his season was cut short by a sprained MCL — Wright said he was about “80 percent” recovered — he had plenty of time to think about his decision.
Nebraska, he said, was the right spot. He becomes the 20th commit in the class and the second defensive back. He also becomes a legacy.
Though he let his son make the decision and has stayed out of the spotlight, Dad is excited, Javin said. That was obvious to the young man they call Buddha when he saw his dad on the official visit to Nebraska.
It was Dad’s first trip to Memorial Stadium, Javin said, in 15 years. When Toby Wright saw his former coach Tom Osborne, he began to weep.
“He’s all about Nebraska,” Javin said of his dad. Toby might even rent an apartment in Lincoln so he can watch every game.
Photos: Nebraska football's 2019 recruiting class
Check out photos of each member of Nebraska football's 2019 recruiting class.