Photo: Westbrook Christian senior Grayson Wright signed a football scholarship with the University of North Alabama on May 20. Pictured, from left: Grayson’s mom Celeste, Grayson, Grayson’s dad Patrick. (Photo by Grant Campbell)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Grayson Wright’s decision to play football in his final year of high school eligibility reaped dividends on May 20, when the Westbrook Christian senior agreed be a preferred walk-on with the University of North Alabama in Florence.
A three-year starter for the Warriors’ basketball team, Wright came out for football his senior year at the request of head coach Drew Noles.
“I’ll be honest, this is a huge blessing,” said Wright, who plans on majoring in computer science at UNA. “Besides Coach Noles, one of the JSU [football] coaches who was [at Westbrook] looking at one of our other guys told me I should give football a try. I gave it a go, and this is where it got me.”
The Warriors were glad of Wright’s decision to hit the gridiron. Playing at nose guard, he finished the 2020 season with 39 tackles, including 13 for a loss, and four sacks. He also blocked a punt. Westbrook went 10-2 and made it to the second round of the Class 2A state playoff for the second year in a row.
“I felt that [nose guard] suited me a little bit better than defensive end, just because I was trying to learn so much stuff,” said Wright. “Our football program is really starting to pick up, and we went pretty far for the second year in a row. It was an awesome experience.”
Wright also discovered the difference between football shape and basketball shape.
“Basketball conditioning is crazy compared to football. I wasn’t quite used to being done for a while after only a couple of plays [in football]. But as far as weight training, I was used to doing only squats and bench presses for basketball. [The weight training] went for about 30 minutes for basketball to about an hour and a half for football.”
Noles was well aware of Wright’s prowess on the basketball court and believed that he would be an asset to the Warriors on the gridiron.
“With Grayson’s size and athletic ability, we definitely wanted him to play. He was always great in the weight room, but with the [COVID-19] pandemic, he didn’t get in any type of spring training had limited work in the summer, so it was tough for him to catch up. There was so much he had to learn in such a short amount of time. But he was so strong, and he was able to be effective at the nose guard position. Grayson was a huge plus for us last season. It was fun to get to know him more and see him grow in his ability.”
North Alabama went 0-4 last fall in a COVID-19-shortended season. UNA will compete in the ASUN Conference this season along with Jacksonville State, Eastern Kentucky, Central Arkansas and Kennesaw State. Wright will join 2017 West End gra-duate and junior redshirt receiver Andre Little on the Lion roster.
“UNA is one of the schools I really wanted to go to,” said Wright. “But they saw that Samford gave me a [preferred] walk-on as well, so they said, “We might as well give him one.’ I haven’t been up to the campus yet, but I’ve heard great things about it from a lot of people.”
Wright will play against a few familiar faces in 2019 Westbrook graduates P.J. Wells and
Jackson Luttrell when North Alabama travels to Jacksonville State on September 18. Wells is a receiver and Luttrell plays on the defensive line.
“That will be fun seeing them again,” said Wright. “I’m looking forward to it.”