Senior wide receiver brings versatility to Temple football

Isaiah Wright hopes his versatility can help him excel on offense and special teams.

Senior wide receiver Isaiah Wright carries the ball during the Owls’ practice on Saturday at Chodoff Field. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

It would be “irresponsible” for Temple University football coach Rod Carey not to use Isaiah Wright to his full capabilities, he said.

Last season, the senior wide receiver totaled seven touchdowns as a wide receiver, rusher, kick returner and punt returner. When he wasn’t scoring, he was making big plays. Wright posted 368 receiving yards, 84 rushing yards, and finished second in Division I with 1,122 return yards. 

This season, the Owls will move Wright around the field, while also using him out of the backfield more.

“I am gonna play in the backfield,” Wright said. “I probably won’t be the primary back, but you are gonna see me back there and me doing a lot of other things too.”

Wright lined up on the outside, in the slot, as a running back, as a returner and ran some trick plays at wildcat quarterback under former coach Geoff Collins. 

Wright wants to play more in the backfield this year than he did last season, he said. Wright only received 19 rushing attempts in 2018, down from 25 in 2017. 

“Coach Carey made sure he let me know what his plan was, and I appreciate that he tries to get me in the loop with everything,” Wright said. “It is fun to finally be able to do the things that I thought I was gonna do.” 

Wright said his expanded role to the backfield this season will allow him to have the ball more, he added. With an increase in touches, Wright’s goal is to record both 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards en route to receiving all-conference honors. 

Wright’s biggest impact on the Owls throughout his career has been in the return game. He has racked up 1,850 combined kick and punt return yards and scored five touchdowns, including three last year. 

“All the different things [Wright] brings to the team on special teams, he is just lightning ” senior cornerback Linwood Crump said. “ I love blocking for him. It is the best thing to see your man go score a touchdown and get all those accolades.” 

Wright won American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year last season and finished seventh in the Football Bowl Subdivision with an average of 13.1 yards per return. 

“[Wright] was the second best in the country, so it’s his job,” special teams coordinator Ed Foley said. “I’m excited to have him back and he’s excited to be back. We’ve been watching some different return styles. He’s gonna be really good this year for us.”

Wright’s return prowess excites his teammates to block harder for him, and his teammates feel a part of any awards he wins, Crump said.

Wright has some ambitious goals for this coming season with his new role. 

“Truthfully, I set my goals high, I have high standards,” Wright said. “I would like to have 1,000 receiving yards, 1,000 rushing yards, and be an [all-conference player] again.” 

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