HUNTINGTON — Thankfully, players must sign a National Letter of Intent. One slip of the tongue could have cost Marshall football Coach Doc Holliday the services of Gerald Wright.
“Signing Day was crazy; some of the crowd was chanting ‘FSU, FSU,” Wright said. “I got to the microphone and choked and said I was taking my talents to Michigan. I don’t know where that came from.”
Lucky for the 6-foot-3, 320-pound offensive lineman, his mom was there to save the day for the Herd and not Florida State or the Wolverines.
“I had my mom saying ‘Marshall, Marshall, Marshall, Marshall,” Wright said of when he looked at the school crowd to witness his Signing Day announcement. “That’s when I corrected it and said I will be taking my talents to Marshall.”
Wright, from Miami Northwestern High School, was the second commitment of the 2013 Marshall recruiting class and turned down offers from offers from Florida A&M, Ole Miss and a late offer from Florida State.
“The crazy thing is that (Florida State) came to offer me on Thursday, right before we went out on break, six days before signing day,” Wright said.
But he already was excited to play for Coach Holliday.
“My dad told me about (Holliday) and his past with Florida,” Wright said. “I wanted to play for this guy because of how he’s connected with all of the guys, and before I got to talk to him I wanted to commit up there with Cato and Shuler.”
Miami natives and Herd players Rakeem Cato, Tommy Shuler and A.J. Leggett left an impression when they played high school football against Wright.
“I played against those guys in high school and playing against Rakeem, I never could beat him when he was at Miami Central High School.” Wright said. “If you can’t beat them, they say you got to join them.”
Now that Wright joined the Thundering Herd, his new teammates have already let him know what they expect of him.
“I had a chance to talk to Cato and Tommy, they let me know now that I’m (at Marshall) it is time to work,” Wright said. “Try to get out there as a true freshman to help the team and get back to a bowl.”
Part of helping the team will be going back to Florida to face off against new Conference USA members FIU and FAU, something with which Wright already is on board.
“It always feels good when you go home and beat up on your home team; I’ll be really excited for that,” Wright said. “My junior year I blocked for the quarterback that’s starting for FIU this year, E.J. Hilliard. I’d love to beat him and love to beat FAU.”
While at Marshall, Wright wants to major in business and then attend mortuary school.
“That’s just something that interests me a whole lot,” Wright said. “I work Fridays and Saturdays at a funeral home. I have a cousin who graduated from FAMU that took up mortuary and business and she’s on her way to have her own funeral home.”
Wright has an infant daughter, Jer’miyah. Her mother, Shamoney Dean, plans on attending Marshall as well.
“That’s very exciting to me. I feel more at home knowing my daughter and her mother are there with me,” Wright said. “That will keep me focused.”
Huntington seems like the best place for Wright to feel at home with his family, it was an eye opening experience during his visit to Marshall.
“It was like another world, something I’ve never seen before and I fell in love with it because it wasn’t Miami,” Wright said. “Being able to go up and not have to look over your shoulder because bad things happen (in Miami), it was great up there. I like the cold weather.”
He’ll get plenty of that in Huntington.
Paul Swann, co-host of the Insider Sportsline, has worked in Huntington sports radio for more than 20 years. He holds awards and honors from the West Virginia Associated Press Broadcasters Association and the West Virginia Broadcasters Association.