s his team endured a hard- fought battle with Stanford that was eventually determined in the last minute, Claudius Wright could only watch.
Wright waved a towel as he stood along the eastern sideline at Arizona Stadium. Instead of trotting out to his spot at cornerback and keeping pace with the Cardinal receivers in hopes of grounding the outstanding Stanford passing attack, he could only cheer and offer his teammates encouragement and advice.
He would be forced to miss the game because of an incident that had happened two weeks before. So there he stood in his street clothes Ä his shoulder pads and helmet were in his locker.
"It was a great game to watch," said Wright, who has five tackles so far. "The fans got their money's worth. I'm just glad we won."
The nightmare for Wright began two weeks before that game, following Arizona's win over Southern Cal, and continued until he returned to action the next week against Washington State.
Wright's name went from the roster to the police blotter because he decided to take the blame to protect a relative. He and the younger relative were leaving a party at the Hillel Center on campus when the relative gave him a handgun to avoid getting in trouble. Carrying the gun in his pocket while walking to his car to put it away, Wright was stopped by a police officer because he was holding a wine cooler. Because he had never been in trouble with the law, he initially panicked and gave the officer a false name. But by the time everything was straightened out, he faced an arrest on charges of a concealed weapon and for lying to police.
The incident ended up relegating him to scout team duties, and after a bye weekend, he had to sit out the Stanford game. But worst of all, he made headlines Ä the wrong headlines, which associated him with a nasty incident rather than for solid play on the field.
"The whole situation was blown way out of proportion," said Wright, a senior. "The media can do that. If you're doing something right, they don't care, but if you're doing something bad, they're all over you."
Most of all, he is glad that those who are close to him realize he is not the person the public made him out to be. For everyone else, he has no control over what they think.
"I'm not that type of person," Wright said. "People are going to think what they want to, there's nothing I can do about it. I know the kind of person I am and so do my teammates, my family and my coaches. They're the ones I'm with on an everyday basis. I can't walk around the U of A campus trying to prove myself. It doesn't make any difference what people think."
Others can watch as he faces Stanford for the only time of his UA career this Saturday. As a cornerback, his actions usually go unnoticed because they don't translate into statistics the way that some of his teammates' actions do. Shutting off a receiver by causing incompletions doesn't show up on the stat sheet under his name.
People usually only notice when he messes up, when his man is wide open down the field. But Wright doesn't usually get burnt and sometimes a slight slip can be covered if one of the UA safeties comes over for a tackle.
"Claudius has the self motivation to take it to the next level," UA secondary coach Ted Williams said. "He has worked hard and stayed dedicated and that should help him continue to be successful."
It was only Wright's second game in an Arizona uniform when he became a starter last season.
He accredits his quick ascension to Al Feola, his secondary coach for two years at Fullerton (Calif.) Junior College, a school where UA defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff played and coached.
For now, his focus is on taking down Stanford with tight coverage on the Cardinal's receivers.
"It's living on the edge out there," Wright said of his position. "You're a hero one minute and you're a zero the next. It's just something you have to deal with."
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