CEDAR RAPIDS — His knee is not an issue. Repeat, Brayden Wright’s knee is not an issue.
Disregard the brace the Cedar Rapids Washington senior is wearing. It means nothing.
“I don’t think he really needs it,” said Washington Coach Maurice Blue. “I think it’s just more of a security blanket for him. He has looked pretty good.”
Wright suffered a full tear of the ACL in his left knee in Washington’s fourth game last season. That cut short an opportunity for the two-way starter to help his team and show off his potential to college recruiters.
Getting back onto the field has not been easy, but he’s there now and looking forward to a successful 2018 fall. Washington hosts Class 4A sixth-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie in a season opener Thursday night at Kingston Stadium.
It’ll be an approximate 7:30 kickoff.
“I feel good. Solid,” Wright said. “There is nothing holding me back. I feel the same as I did last year before I got hurt.”
Wright is a three-year starter for Washington, who has made most of his bones as a cornerback. He also has provided big plays as a wide receiver, catching six passes for about a 20-yard average last season before his injury, which came when he tried to go left as a receiver and got pulled right.
At first, it was believed it was his hamstring. It wasn’t.
“I just thought ‘OK, I’ve got to do what I need to do to get back,’” he said. “I just wanted to make sure I was with my team this year. Stay committed to the process and stay focused mentally. At times, it got kind of hard. At different times, I wanted to give up. But I stayed focused, my guys pushed me. I wasn’t able to compete with them, but they had my back. With them there, it helped me get through it. Helped me keep going and get better.”
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Wright will remain at corner for the Warriors, but he’s not a receiver anymore offensively, moving under center as their quarterback. It’s a position he played as a freshman, so this is not foreign.
Blue said the 6-foot, 175-pounder is a dual-threat guy, mentioning his scrambling ability leading to a long touchdown run in Washington’s scrimmage last week against Waterloo West.
“It has been fun to go back (there),” Wright said. “It’s always a better way to lead the team. Everyone is looking at you, so you’ve got that positive mindset that everyone is going to fall in behind you. Bascially, how I do is how the team is going to react. That always makes me think I’ve got to be on my game every single day.”
These were both playoff teams in 2017, though Prairie certainly is a favorite here. The Hawks have a pounding senior running back in Keegan Simmons among their many weapons.
Washington is trying to replace several key pieces, including a pair of offensive tackles that are playing now at Division I colleges.
“I think a lot of people are doubting us,” Wright said. “But I feel we’re going to come out and surprise a lot of people.”
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