Chicago Bears safety Major Wright became the first Florida Gators player selected in the 2010 NFL Draft to be signed by his team after agreeing to a four-year contract on Friday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“With this being my dream, signing a contract is a blessing for me,” Wright told the team’s website. “It shows that hard work pays off. I’m very excited and my family is very excited.”
Though terms of the deal were not available at press time, Wright’s signing is significant for the Bears because the team is now the first in league history to have all of its draft picks under contract before the end of May – an achievement the front office takes prides in. It is the fifth-straight year the team has been the first in the NFL to sign all of its draftees.
UPDATE: Wright’s contract is believed to have a maximum value of $3.368 million, $845,000 in guaranteed payments and a fourth-year escalator clause, according to information obtained by Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.
Chicago and Wright’s agent, Mitch Frankel, had to overcome a “one-timer” contract clause that was a necessity because of the team’s underfunded rookie salary pool.
Essentially, Wright will earn less of a signing bonus and instead be provided an additional non-guaranteed incentive in the final year of his rookie contract (2013) as long as he actually steps on the field as a safety (rather than just a special teams player) at some point during his first three seasons. One-timers are generally used for the contracts of second-round picks, but the Bears found a need to use it for Wright – the team’s top selection (No. 75 overall) in April.
He is expected to immediately compete for Chicago’s starting free safety job, and the coaching staff is hopefully he will win the job during training camp.
1 » Former Florida Gators safety Major Wright remains unsigned with the Chicago Bears, but that is not too uncommon considering training camp is still a ways away. However, what is interesting is that, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears will be including a “one-timer” (something generally used for second-round picks) in Wright’s contract. Essentially, Wright will earn an additional guaranteed incentive in the final year of his rookie contract (2013) as long as he actually steps on the field as a safety (rather than just a special teams player) at some point during his first three seasons.
2 » Competing in the 2010 NCAA Championship Round of 16 on Thursday against the Ole Miss Rebels (17-6), No. 3 Gators women’s tennis (27-2) captured a 4-1 victory and advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. The No. 5 doubles pairing of senior Marrit Boonstra and freshman Allie Will took an 8-6 victory while No. 8 Will and No. 9 Lauren Embree (also a freshman) each won their singles contests. Florida will square-off against No. 11-seed Miami (FL) in the next round on Saturday at 1 p.m.
3 » No. 4/5 Gators baseball is competing for the Southeastern Conference regular season crown this weekend, but for freshman shortstop Nick Fontana, it is also a great opportunity to pay tribute to his grandfather, Lew Burdette. Inscribing “FROG” and “No. 33” on the infield dirt before the game begins, Fontana is sure to keep Burdette’s memory alive. “He was my inspiration,” Fontana told Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. “I feel like he’s with me every day on that field.”
4 » It is a busy week for Florida’s athletic department as the No. 4/6 men’s golf team is also currently competing nationally, playing in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Central Regional on Thursday. In second place after posting a team score of 279 (-1), the Gators are only behind the leader, Stanford, by two strokes. The event continues Friday.
Former Florida Gators safety Major Wright is on the cusp of beginning his rookie campaign with the Chicago Bears. Selected by Chicago in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Wright has been preparing each day since being picked to take the field for training camp and show both his coaches and Bears fans that he is capable of making an impact right away. OGGOA caught up with Wright before a scheduled appearance he had signing autographs in West Palm Beach, FL. He spoke with us about a variety of topics including his time at Florida, the future of the Gators program and what he hopes to accomplish right away as a professional in the NFL.
ADAM SILVERSTEIN:What kind of advice would you give to a high school recruit about to make a college decision, perhaps one considering Florida? MAJOR WRIGHT: “At Florida, you know, they recruit the best athletes. So, if they recruit you, you’re obviously one of the best athletes out there. Stay focused, maintain what you are doing and always work hard and things are going to happen for you. Especially at the University of Florida – the best talent, the best coaching, the best facilities. That’s where kids want to be at these days.”
AS:How hard was it for you to make the adjustment from high school to college? MW: “It was pretty hard. Being that you’re coming from high school to college. With me, I went to St. Thomas Aquinas – a well-known program that has great coaching. With my coaching and the speed of the game, it’s a lot different from high school to college. It’s a hard [transition], but I made it and went on with it.”
AS:Ahmad Black and Will Hill are still left, trying to hold down the back end of the secondary. How do you think they are going to play next year? MW: “They’re going to be great. Me playing with them, those are definitely some focused guys. They know what they’re doing. Ahmad Black and Will Hill [are] definitely [going to] be like one of the two best tandems in college football.”
1 » No. 5/5 Florida Gators softball (43-7, 20-7 SEC) defeated the Auburn Tigers (31-5, 11-18 SEC) 9-1 in the first round of the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday. Junior Stephanie Brombacher (29-5) took home the win, allowing two hits in five innings while striking out six. Junior shortstop Megan Bush and freshman Kelsey Horton each hit home runs in the game, and the Gators put together an eight-run fifth inning to put the game away. No. 2-seed Florida advanced with the win and will face No. 3-seed LSU on Friday at 3 p.m. in tournament semifinal action.
2 » Speaking with podcaster Matt Minkus, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said that had former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow been available in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, his team likely would have had a high level of interest in selecting him. “Yeah, we definitely would have considered Tim,” Schneider said Wednesday. “I think he’s the type of player that – the quarterback position begin the most important position on the field – he’s the type of player that just has a natural way about him with his leadership skills and his charisma. I think that we definitely would have considered him. People have made a big deal about his release, and he really has improved that over the last month of two. He was making a lot of progress, so sure, he definitely would have been a guy we would have considered.”
3 » Former Florida cornerback Jacques Rickerson, who was kicked off the team in November 2008 after an arrest for domestic battery, was arrested yet again Thursday afternoon and charged with cyberstalking and domestic battery by strangulation., according to The Gainesville Sun. Rickerson, a former four-star recruit, is currently being held in Alachua County jail on $45,000 bond.
4 » Taking a (really) early look ahead at the 2011 NFL Draft, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper went ahead and ranked his top five players available by position. Only two Gators made the list – senior center Mike Pouncey and junior safety Will Hill. Pouncey is ranked as the No. 3 center available even though he has yet to play the position for Florida; Hill is listed as the No. 2 safety and is expected to have an “official coming-out party” next year.
Extra Bit » OGGOA sponsor Palm Beach Autographs will be holding a signing on Saturday, May 15 with two more former Gators. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin and Chicago Bears safety Major Wright will be on hand signing autographs, taking pictures and talking to fans throughout the event. For more information, click their banner on the right or visit http://www.palmbeachautographs.com
1 » No. 4/6 Florida Gators baseball (32-11, 16-6 SEC) handled the Alabama Crimson Tide (28-18, 9-13 SEC) on Friday on the road at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, coming away with a 9-3 victory on the heels of freshman starter Hudson Randall’s seven shutout innings. Randall (6-3), cleared way for the Gators’ bats to get to work, and the lineup responded with every single player getting a hit. Freshman catcher Mike Zunino (2-4) led the way with three RBI; freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (2-5) attempted to match him with two RBI and two runs of his own. Florida faces Alabama the next two days before returning to Gainesville, FL, for a five-game home stand.
2 » A day before Mother’s Day, it is good to hear a nice mother-son story prominently featuring a former Florida football player. For new Chicago Bears safety Major Wright, his mother Andrea Eluett has stood as a major part of his life, which is the reason why he gave her his 2009 BCS National Championship ring last year as a present. “She’s been a big inspiration in my life,” Wright said. “Growing up, we didn’t have it all. Everything wasn’t going right for us. But she’d always be there for us no matter what it took. Her [returning to school for a pharmacy degree] showed our family that we could go to college and be productive and get great jobs. It let us know that we could do all things and not to let anything hold us back.” Read the rest: ChicagoBears.com
UPDATE » Four former Gators started competing in The PLAYERS Championship on Thursday, but only one remains after two rounds of action. Camilo Villegas (143), Brian Gay (144) and Mark Calcavecchia (147) all missed the cut while Chris Couch will continue competing with a two-day 142 (-3).
1 » Florida Gators lacrosse’s freshman attacker Ashley Bruns was named the 2010 American Lacrosse Conference Rookie of the Year on Tuesday. Bruns, one of the top recruits in the country, led Florida’s inaugural lacrosse team in goals (44) and assists (30) while taking home numerous honors over the course of the season. She also earned a spot on the All-ALC Second Team along with teammates freshman midfielders Brittany Dashiell and Jamie Reeg.
2 » Former Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap is already finding a level of comfort with the Cincinnati Bengals. He knows exactly what the team expects of him and hopes to exceed their projections. “They drafted me to be a pass rusher. That’s definitely something I want to be the best at on the team, so I can be that guy,” said Dunlap according to CNATI.com. “I’m just working on that and working on becoming an NFL player. […] It’s a passing league. If you can be a dominant pass rusher, you can be one of the dominant players in the league.”
3 » By all appearances, former Florida kick returner Brandon James had a rough year in 2010, culminating with a season-ending injury that kept him out of the postseason. Unable to compete at most pre-draft workouts, James was counting on his college production and workout at the Gators’ second Pro Day to fuel interest. The Indianapolis Colts recognized his talent, signing him to an undrafted free agent contract after the 2010 NFL Draft completed. Now, James believes he can greatly impact the former Super Bowl champions (at least) on special teams. “That’s an area I can help in,” he told the Indianapolis Star. “If not making big plays, then putting [the offense] in good field position. If you put the offense at the 40- or 50-yard line, the chances [of scoring] are a lot greater than if it starts at the 18 or 20. That’s what I feel like I’m here for.” In order to remain “here,” James will have to beat out Indiana’s Ray Fisher, a seventh-round pick who is also attempting to make the team as the primary returner.
4 » Though he spent a good amount of time at Florida as a strong safety, Major Wright is already competing for the starting free safety job with the Chicago Bears, according to the Daily Herald. Wright, the Bears’ third-round selection, is ready and raring to go. “I was like, ‘Wow my dream’s come true,’” he said. “I dreamed about this when I was younger and it’s here. Now I just have to go out and hustle and just stay focused.”
The Chicago Bears waited patiently for almost two full days before making their first selection of the 2010 NFL Draft, using the No. 75 overall pick in the third round to select former Florida Gators safety Major Wright.
He was the first Florida player at his position to be drafted since Reggie Nelson (No. 21, Jacksonville Jaguars – 2007) and goes to a team which hopes he can step in and play right away.
“You hate to talk about rookies being one of the starters right away,” Chicago head coach Lovie Smith said when discussing Wright, “but […] he’s our first pick. We’re expecting big things from him.”
Wright was explosive for the Gators in 2008 but experienced reduced playing time in 2009 when the team decided to utilize three safeties. His decision to declare for the draft was seen as a mistake by many in Gator Nation, but his stock rose with each passing event as he was impressive at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine and Florida’s Pro Day.
He is the first Gators player to be selected by the Bears since the team took three former University of Florida student-athletes in 2003: quarterback Rex Grossman (first round), defensive tackle Ian Scott and safety Todd Johnson (both fourth round).
For the first time since 1989, three former University of Florida student-athletes were picked in the first round of a NFL Draft. Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow completed the trifecta for the 2010 NFL Draft, being chosen by the Denver Broncos with the No. 25 overall selection.
Tebow becomes the fourth Florida quarterback drafted in the first round and the first since Rex Grossman was picked by the Chicago Bears in 2003. Denver made four trades in the draft before eventually winding up with the opportunity to select the Heisman Trophy winning signal caller.
Months of debate about whether or not he was worthy of a first round selection were only fueled Thursday by the Broncos’ decision. Now the story changes to whether or not Tebow will be able to live up to the slot in which he was picked.
Things got rolling between the two parties early in the process but intensified this Monday when general manager Brian Xanders and head coach Josh McDaniels visited Tebow for a private meeting in Gainesville, FL.
He will join former Florida wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and defensive linemen Jarvis Moss and Marcus Thomas who are already on Denver’s roster. The team, which happens to use orange and blue as its two primary colors, recently made the No. 15 jersey available after trading wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins for two second round picks.
Should Tebow get a chance to play in week one of the 2010 NFL season, he will take the field at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in his hometown of Jacksonville, FL, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
WHAT TEBOW SAID Press Conference Transcript
“A lot of people said it was going to be a hard process or a long process and that it was going to be very frustrating for me but I loved it and I enjoyed the working process. All the critics and negativity only pushed me that much more and made me work that much harder and made me better. I think that was a positive thing for me, to be honest with you. I believed in myself and the people that were around me and supporting me. I thank my quarterback coaches for the work that they put in and trying to constantly get better. Not only get better but show that I was coachable, to be humble and learn to do what someone says and I think that is something that I tried to show and I think I showed that to Coach McDaniels and the staff there.”
WHAT THEY SAID Press Conference Transcript Press Conference Video Head coach Josh McDaniels: “The player obviously has all the traits that you’re looking for in terms of toughness and competitiveness. He’s intelligent and he’s won a lot of games. He’s a leader, he works hard and he’s got all the intangibles that you look for in a player at that position. He’s produced a lot of numbers and statistically – I’m not even going to talk about that because he’s one of the best in a long, long time. We need that player in that position to be a good player, a real good player. If we can make him a special player, that’s what we’re looking for. Now we have a deep group of quarterbacks and we expect the competition to be incredible. It hasn’t changed anything in terms of our depth chart right now. We’re looking for that position to be the best player on our team if we can make it that way. Competition is only going to make each one of those players better and that’s what we expect him to come in and provide us with.”
Head coach Urban Meyer: “I’m sure Tim and his family are glad the process is over. The Denver Broncos are getting a winner. Tim will show on the field what he is capable of doing and more than anything Tim has a competitive fire that will constantly push him to get better and do whatever he can to help his team win.”