South Carolina doesn’t have a rich tradition of sending quarterbacks to the NFL. Seven have made NFL rosters dating all the way back to Larry Craig from 1939-49 with the Green Bay Packers.
Former South Carolina quarterback Anthony Wright shows off his N.Y. Giants Super Bowl ring to the crowd at the Gamecock Club FanFest in Charlotte earlier this month
The most successful professional quarterback that claims South Carolina as his alma mater is Anthony Wright, who played for five different teams spanning from 1999 through 2008. Wright made only 19 starts in his 10-year career, but he left the NFL with a ring signifying him as a Super Bowl Champion.
Wright, sporting his ring as a 2008 champion, has become much more active in celebrating his past as a Gamecock football player. He’s attended functions in Columbia and recently spoke to the crowd at the Gamecock Club FanFest in Charlotte, N.C.
Still standing at No. 5 overall on the South Carolina career passing leaders list with 5,681 yards during his four-year career, Wright proudly sports his Gamecock gear. While he says he’s always had pride in his university, the success of the football program has him walking a little bit taller knowing he was a part of the program’s history.
“You want people to know you’re a part of Gamecock Nation,” Wright said. “Everybody wants to be a part of a winner.”
Wright was disengaged a bit from the university following his graduation in 1998 and departure for the NFL. When head coach Steve Spurrier took over in 2005, the Head Ball Coach reached out to the quarterback he never coached and invited him back to campus.
That was something that Wright, who now trains middle school and high school athletes in the Charlotte area, appreciated and didn’t take lightly. He’s been back and an active member of the school ever since.
He’s watched the program grow first hand over the seven-year period that Spurrier has been the head coach. The Gamecocks have just exited their winningest season in school history and Wright can look at the program and see that Spurrier is the right man for the job.
“He’s obviously the best coach for Gamecock Nation,” Wright said. “He’s come in and has done an excellent job. If we continue to win the way we’re doing and stay in the top 10, we’re going to get the recognition that we need and eventually try to get the national championship.”
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier reached out to Wright as soon as he took the job with the Gamecocks in 2005
Bringing South Carolina to the highest win total in school history is certainly a feat, but everyone wants staying power. Whether it’s Spurrier, players, fans, or alumni like Wright, everyone wants a consistent winner.
With the way that Spurrier and his staff have continued to build its roster with talent athletes, Wright doesn’t see win totals tapering off any time soon.
Wright, a Vanceboro, N.C. native, emphasized the importance of recruiting the best talent in the Palmetto State, but also noted that North Carolina has been fertile recruiting territory, too.
“I think (Spurrier) has the potential and ability to keep these players here,” Wright said. “The guys get a chance to play local and their families get to see them play.”
While Wright noted that when he was coming up, a lot of the top players in South Carolina would head to places like Florida and Florida State, more athletes now are choosing the Gamecocks.
When wide receiver Shaq Roland put his name on the dotted line on National Signing Day back in February, Spurrier landed the state’s Mr. Football for the fourth straight season. Past winners Stephon Gilmore, Marcus Lattimore, and Jadeveon Clowney have all worked out pretty well for the Gamecocks thus far.
Talented players and quality coaching, and as athletic director Eric Hyman likes to say, a commitment from all involved, is what builds a championship-level program.
Spurrier has won championships elsewhere and he has the South Carolina program achieving new heights.
“He’s been doing it for a long time and built programs before,” Wright said. “Now, he’s building our program. He’s done an excellent job in the time that he’s been here and I hope it will continue going forward.”
Ten-year NFL veteran and former South Carolina quarterback Anthony Wright is now working with middle school and high school athletes in the Charlotte, N.C. area equipping them both in the weight room and with knowledge about how to succeed in athletics at the highest level. If you have a child that is interested, you can contact Wright at 252-412-0222.