Wright expects to thrive with defense-minded coach

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PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) - Marquise Wright didn’t know what to expect from the college recruiting process.

“I thought I was a good player, but I never realized how good,” said Wright, the 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive tackle from Paramus Catholic High School. “I only had a few schools interested, but when a lot of schools started to come that never had interest before, that’s when I knew it. It was pretty much a dream come true.”

After having only a handful of solid offers, Wright’s stock skyrocketed in the offseason, earning big-time attention from Penn State, Illinois, Maryland and Michigan State, before eventually giving a verbal commitment to Pittsburgh a few months ago.

“I just felt very comfortable with the coaches,” said Wright, who is on The Associated Press East Region 25 list of top recruits. “I want to major in criminal justice in college. Academics meant a lot to me. I also wanted to play different places on the defensive line. I like to move around.”

Wright is also a standout in track and field, when he’s not dominating along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Wright competes in the discus, javelin and shot put and finished seventh in the shot put in the New Jersey Meet of Champions last June.

This season, he’ll be working with a new head coach. Chris Partridge, who graduated from Paramus Catholic in 1997 and was the captain of the Paramus Catholic team that won a state title that year, left the college ranks to become the head coach at his alma mater. Partridge was an assistant coach at The Citadel and Lafayette in recent years.

It also intrigues Wright that Partridge is a defensive-minded coach (Partridge coached defensive backs at Lafayette and the defensive line at The Citadel), so Partridge may allow Wright to control things the way he likes along the line.

“I can see we’re going to have a good team this year,” Wright said. “We have a new coach and new staff, so we’re going to be a different team.”

Wright collected 65 tackles and seven sacks last year.

Wright is part of an impressive group of Garden State players who have already given verbal commitments to Pittsburgh, No. 15 in the Top 25 preseason poll. Wright joins defensive back Bill Belton of Winslow Township, defensive end Max Issaka of Woodbridge, quarterback Gary Nova of the state’s top team Don Bosco Prep and linebacker Quinton Alston of Timber Creek.

It marks the third straight year that Pitt has secured as many as five players from New Jersey among its recruiting class.

“The coaches at Pitt do an excellent job of recruiting in New Jersey,” Wright said. “That means a lot. They treat players with class and top rate. I think I can bring a lot to the table. I’m think I’m a good leader. I’m explosive off the ball on both sides of the ball. I’m good on my feet. I have good hands and good feet. I think I can help out at Pitt.”

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