It’s no secret the state of Mississippi is long revered as a “football state”. From Peyton, Rice, Favre and more, Mississippi does not lack on football history or heritage.
From the Mississippi players that litter rosters in the NFL, to our college teams and down to Friday nights in the fall at your local high school, football is king in Mississippi.
Young men within the state are taught at the earliest of ages about the history and tradition the state has when it comes to football and if they are going to play the game, what they need to shoot for.
For Mississippi State alumnus KJ Wright, he embodies everything about the state of Mississippi, its history and football heritage.
“I knew early I wanted to be the best that I could be and ultimately represent my home state and stay in state to play my college ball,” Wright said.
Wright, who was born in Memphis, TN found his way to the Magnolia State as a kid and played high school football for 6A power house Olive Branch. While being a native Tennessean, he is quick to call Mississippi home. He was a first team All-State selection via the Clarion Ledger in 2006, after a senior year where he tallied 91-total tackles, 13-sacks and an interception.
Wright, who has always had great length, speed and vision, had a laundry list of offers coming out of high school. From all the instate schools, to Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina and others – Wrights services as a football player were highly coveted.
Wright eventually pledged his services to Mississippi State and then head coach Sylvester Croom.
“It was important to me to stay in state and showcase my talents for THE State’s college, Mississippi State,” Wright said.
From the fourth game of his freshman season, forward – Wright started for the Bulldogs, becoming a key piece defensively for Mississippi State.
He played in 47-consecutive games for the Bulldogs and while he went through a coaching change during his time in Starkville, he is credited for being a key piece to the turnaround the Bulldogs are enjoying under Dan Mullen.
“I really enjoyed my time in Starkville and I am always excited to watch the Bulldogs,” Wright said. “Coach Mullen is doing big things in Starkville and I am a big fan of Dak. I think he has the chance to be special. I’m excited for that team.”
After Wright’s senior season at Mississippi State, he impressed several NFL franchises with his athleticism and play and was chosen eventually by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Wright joined several other SEC players on a Seahawks roster built by head man Pete Carroll and this past year; Wright was an integral part on a team that dismantled the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, 43-8 and claiming the title, NFL Champion.
Wright totaled seven- tackles and a tackle for a loss in the win over the Broncos and for him, this was a lifelong dream.
“Growing up as a kid you always dream of playing in a Super Bowl,” Wright said. “This was a dream come true and something I have worked my entire life for. Just to be able to say, I am a Super Bowl Champion is something I will always cherish.”
Wright also feels at home in Seattle and thinks this team’s success is just getting started.
“Playing in Seattle in front of all those fans (The 12th man) is electric. It’s like playing in the SEC in Seattle because those fans want it so bad, and I love it,” Wright said. “We got a really young, hungry team and we are not satisfied as we want to prove to everyone, last year was not a fluke.”
From small town hero, to big man on campus and now Super Bowl Champion, KJ Wright has entrenched himself in Mississippi’s football lore. His name will always be mentioned with the great ones that have come through the state of Mississippi and for Wright that is special.
“Growing up in Mississippi, I loved playing high school football because in the south, that’s where the best football is and there’s nothing like high school football in Mississippi. Friday nights are special in that state,” Wright said. “And – to be able to represent my home state and play in front of my home crowd at Mississippi State, then reach my goals of being an NFL player and get a Super Bowl rign? I wouldn’t take anything for it.”
Wright goes for his second straight Super Bowl ring next week as he will be looked upon as a key ingredient in shutting down Tom Brady and the Patriots.