Rod Wright: 'I've got to go back to L.A.'

Photo: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas

Texas junior defensive tackle Rod Wright is planning on going. No, not to the NFL, but back to Los Angeles in about a year with his Longhorn teammates for a spot in the Rose Bowl, the home of the 2006 National Championship Game.

Wright announced Friday afternoon that he will return to the Forty Acres for his senior season rather than take the millions that might be waiting in professional football.

"First off, it really dawned on me, coming back for my senior year was going to be priceless," the all-Big 12 pick said. "Going to the NFL, I feel I could have trained and competed to be the No. 1 defensive tackle taken but it really dawned on me that I would never see some of the faces that I'm going to see my senior season and I also thought about being somewhere in some cold city by myself watching this team win the national championship and I didn't want to feel that feeling, so I really felt like I needed to come back and help the team do that.

Wright totaled 36 tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, seven QB pressures and a caused fumble during the Horns' 11-1 run for the Roses. In his three-year Longhorn career, Wright has posted 181 tackles, 27 TFLs, 13 sacks, 52 pressures and five forced fumbles in 37 career games (32 starts). And while there are personal goals that the big DT would like to achieve, one team goal stands above all others.

"Obviously, get that one more win, or two more with the Big 12 Championship," he said. "We obviously want to return to L.A. next year to play in the Rose Bowl. Personally I want to get all the accolades like D.J. and Ced did. I know it was a dream for them to get all those things but first and foremost, I've got to go back to L.A."

Wright said he talked recently to former teammate and current Seattle Seahawk Marcus Tubbs, who told him to "go with my heart. No matter what people say, it's really on me. It's my decision. And it came down to that."

Early in the decision-making process, Wright felt the tug of the almighty dollar.

"At the beginning it was kinda back and forth," he said. "I was getting a lot of calls people saying this and that. When you're a 20-year old kid hearing all that, it's kinda like, 'Hey, there are millions of dollars out there I can go get,' but I felt that coming back here and leaving my mark on Texas was bigger than anything. If something bad was to happen and I slipped to the second or third round or something, I could always bounce back, but if I leave here and don't leave my mark, I can never come back and do that, so that played a big part."

Junior safety Michael Huff, who also flirted with the idea of jumping to the League, confirmed Friday that he too will stay in the Orange and White for his senior season and expressed his excitement that one of his big men up front would be around as well.

"I'm very happy (to have Rod back)," Huff said. "Pressure up front makes it a lot easier on me on the back end."

Junior DT Larry Dibbles has yet to officially announce his intentions (the deadline to declare is tomorrow), although news reports indicate he plans to return for his senior season. LT Jonathan Scott is also expected back in Burnt Orange this spring and fall.

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