Q&A: Arkansas honorary captain Jarius Wright from Warren

Now in his fifth year in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, Jarius Wright is the honorary captain for Saturday’s game against Ole Miss. An All-SEC selection and a senior captain in 2011, Wright finished his Arkansas career among the school’s all-time leaders in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Wright is one of three receivers in school history to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving in a single season, hauling in 66 passes for 1,117 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns in 2011. Those 66 receptions and 1,117 yards rank second in school history, while the 12 receiving touchdowns remains a school record. That same season, he helped lead Arkansas to an 11-2 season and a win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.

The Warren, Arkansas native finished his career with the most receiving yards (2,934) in school history and the second-most receptions (168) and second-most receiving touchdowns in school history (24), before being selected in the fourth round, No. 118 overall, by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2012 NFL Draft.

What does it mean to come back to Razorback Stadium as an honorary captain this weekend?
“It’s crazy to come back. I haven’t had a chance to make it to a Razorback game since I have been in the NFL, so this is my first one being back and able to watch the Razorbacks in that stadium. That’s big for me. It’s an honor to be an honorary captain for my team. I grew up as an Arkansas kid, so doing these things like this have always been big for me.”

What does it mean to be honored by Coach Bielema and the football program as it is today?
“Coach B is a great guy. He wasn’t a coach of mine, but any time that I’m around or even when I’m not around, he always shoots me a text and talks to me all the time. For him not to be my coach, the love that he shows to all the former players means the world to me.”

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What was it like growing up with Greg Childs and Chris Gragg, playing with them in high school and then playing with them at Arkansas?
“It was a great experience getting a chance to go to Arkansas and play football with some of my high school buddies. It made it easier. Usually, when you go to college, you don’t know anyone, but I knew two people that I was going to be playing with right away.”

What do you remember about playing with Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson? What have you seen from Austin Allen early in his career?
“It was fun getting a chance to play with Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson. They brought two different things to the game, but it was fun getting a chance to play with them both. It was good having two good quarterback and it made my job easier. Austin Allen has been playing really good football with some of the throws that he’s made. And he’s shown a lot toughness and that will take you a long way.”

What do you remember about the bowl games that you played in and those bowl experiences? What was it like ending your college career with the win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl?
“Those experiences were fun. The first time we went to a bowl game was my sophomore year. We went to the Liberty Bowl. That game had so many ups and downs, and it was just a crazy game, and we ended up coming out on top. My junior year was probably the biggest one we had been to, going to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. We went there and had a chance to win it late, but we didn’t get the job done. But it was a fun game to play in for sure. And then ending my college career in Cowboys Stadium with a win against Kansas State, it was fun, especially with a lot of fans able to make the trip.”

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What is your most memorable moment as a Razorback player?
“It would be my senior year. We were down 17 at the half to Texas A&M, and we ended up coming back to win that. I had 13 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns. That was my most memorable game for sure.”

You were a part of a talented group of receivers when you played at Arkansas. Arkansas has another talented group this season. What have you seen from them?
“It’s a little tougher for me to watch the college game now, because I’m already criticizing everything and everybody for what they do. That just kind of comes with my job and how we know more now than what we knew then. Arkansas has a great group of receivers and all the receivers that they have this year reminds me of the group that we had.”

What was it like being selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft? What’s it like still playing for the team that drafted you?
“It was surreal feeling. Growing up in small-town Arkansas, you always say that you’re going to the NFL, but how many people really do it? That day when I was drafted was surreal for me. Words can’t explain how good that felt. I played for a lot more than just myself. I felt like when I got drafted on that day, all of Arkansas got drafted on that day too.”

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When did it become real for you that you were playing in the NFL?
“I would say my first real game. Even though you go through practices and preseason games, but until you get out there in a real game, that’s when I realized and I told myself that I’m here.”

How do you think your time at Arkansas, both on and off the field, prepared you for the NFL?
“Playing in the SEC, you always play against the best competition. The competition in the SEC definitely prepared me for what I was going to go through in the NFL. We had a pretty good defense there at Arkansas, too, and we had a lot of guys that had a chance to play in the NFL, so it helped going against those guys each and every day. And then playing on Saturdays in the NFL definitely got me ready for the next level.”

What are you looking forward to most about the Ole Miss weekend?
“Getting a chance to see the fans and see the crowd and hearing them call the hogs. I look forward to seeing the guys perform on Saturday. I haven’t had a chance to come to a game for a little while, so it will be good to have a chance to see them play.”