DECATUR — A juke here, a spin there, a hurdle for good measure and a burst of speed. One look at him on the football field and it's obvious that St. Teresa's Jacardia Wright is a running back.
It's natural when he was choosing where to spend the next four years on the football field that he would want to play running back. Kansas State opened that door for him and he verbally committed to the Wildcats on Tuesday.
"It means a lot," Wright told the Herald & Review. "I love running back. That's what I want to do and I'm glad I got to pick a college where they actually accept me for what I want to do."
Any questions about measurables with regard to Wright's top-end speed were alleviated when coaches saw him in person. He said Kansas State liked his size and feel for the game.
"Once they saw me they were like, 'This kid can play running back,'" Wright said.
Wright has won the last three Macon County Player of the Year awards and led St. Teresa to the state championship game as a sophomore.
He is one of the most decorated high school running backs to ever play in Macon County. As a senior, he rushed for 2,609 yards on 219 carries for 11.9 yards per run and 55 total touchdowns for the Bulldogs.
He started receiving Division I scholarships as a sophomore and was relieved to wrap up the recruiting process after his senior football season. In fact, Wright said, he wasn't sure the news would trickle out on Tuesday, but checked his phone during a track meet to see a swarm of messages and notifications congratulating him for the commitment.
Wright will sign his non-binding financial aid agreement at 2:15 p.m. on April 24 at St. Teresa High School.
"It's a huge chip off my shoulder and I'm glad I finally have somewhere to go and I'm committed to, Wright said.
Kansas State was 5-7 last year. Chris Klieman was hired as the coach in December, replacing legendary coach Bill Snyder. The thought of suiting up in the Big 12? "That sounds awesome, actually," Wright said.
He expects to get on campus, located in Manhattan, Kan., in the middle of June and put on the pads to prove himself as a running back. Wright was impressed with Klieman, who came to Kansas State from North Dakota State.
"He’s a great coach," Wright said. "We had a great two-hour talk. He comes from a winning team. I feel like he wants to win."
Wright connected with the coaching staff and the players during his visit to the university earlier this month and left with a scholarship offer.
St. Teresa football coach Mark Ramsey has seen Wright roll through everyone in his path during his successful four-year tenure with the Bulldogs that put him near the top of several state records.
A power conference only seemed fitting for Wright to conquer his next challenge.
“We looked at schedule and it’s a heck of a schedule with the Big 12 and some of the non-conference games," Ramsey told the Herald & Review. "I think he’s definitely got the strength and size and speed to play at that level. I think it’s going to be a good opportunity for him to not only play at a Power Five Conference, but also get an education and get it paid for. It’s kind of been a long haul with the recruiting process."
The Wildcats travel to: Mississippi State, Oklahoma State — where Tuscola graduate Hunter Woodard plays — Kansas, Texas and Texas Tech next season.
Ramsey said Wright took a visit and they have primarily been talking with the running backs coach. Other schools have seen Wright as a defender.
"The guy that I talked to has been the running back coach and they’re the ones that have been talking to him the most," Ramsey said. "I do know that in his visit, he did talk briefly with one of the linebackers coach. I think they’re planning on using him as a running back."
Wright is the second all-time leading rusher in IHSA history with 8,821 career rushing yards, finishing behind James Robinson, who played at Rockford Lutheran from 2012-2015. Wright’s 133 career rushing touchdowns rank second in IHSA history, also behind Robinson.
“In my 30 some years around the area, I would say he ranks right up there as one of the top players to play in Macon County," Ramsey said.