“You can’t coach fast,” said Oregon cornerbacks coach Rod Chance on Tuesday night.
He was referring to the ‘Silent Assassin” Mykael Wright who has entered year two in this Oregon Ducks defense.
Talk about a breakout freshman campaign: the 5’11”, 180-pound corner played in all 14 games, recorded 21 tackles (15 solo), five pass breakups and one interception. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed just eight receptions on 23 targets.
But his defensive efforts weren’t even the best of it.
Wright contributed on putting points on the board too returning not one but two kickoffs to the house and making the Ducks a special teams threat last season.
This season is Coach Chance’s first year as the cornerbacks coach at Oregon. He was on Cristobal’s staff in 2018 as a defensive specialist before getting hired to coach the corners at Minnesota. He helped the Golden Gophers defense go from No. 51 (212.4) in 2018 to No. 9 (184.2) nationally in 2019 in passing yards per game.
So when former corners coach Donte Williams left for USC, Chance took his chance to ‘come home’ to Oregon.
His first season as the Oregon cornerbacks coach, amidst a global pandemic, has been interesting to say the least, but he is excited to work with this talented group, including Wright:
“Dude is lightning fast, he can change direction like that, in the snap of a dime,” said Chance. “So just to be around him on a consistent basis and really get a chance to hear him. Mykael is a very quiet person by nature and really I’ve been probing and prompting him to really unpeel the onion. To unpeel who he really is as a person and there’s a lot of personality behind that.
Wright was the top-ranked cornerback in the nation and No. 19 overall in the ESPN300 coming out of high school in the class of 2019. He was the No. 2 player from the state of California behind current teammate Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2019 class.
And he didn’t even play his senior year of high school due to injury.
That just shows how much talent this young man has. Wright may not understand all the X’s and O’s of the game, but given his production last season, coach Chance really likes what he sees.
“You guys know the history behind him - not playing his senior year of high school - now we really trying to catch up and dive into the details and fundamentals of the position,” said Chance. “It’s been a welcomed maturation for him, he’s took a huge step forward. He’s trying to be a better leader every single day and it’s a process for him. He cares about it and I’m excited to coach him. I’m glad he’s here.”
So what’s next for Wright in year two? Peeling back the onion one layer at a time and really understanding not just the ‘what’ but the ‘why’ in the game of football.
Someone who has been with Wright since last season is fellow defensive back and teammate Jamal Hill. When asked what he saw that was different about Wright from year one to year two, Hill had a big grin on his face.
“Mykael is… Mykael is a guy,” said Hill. “I can’t really just pinpoint a major difference in his because he’d been a baller since I met him. I can’t really tell you that, you’re just gonna have to see on Saturday’s.”
That Saturday is just a few weeks away on November 7 when the Ducks host the Stanford Cardinal to open up the 2020 season.
Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast here.