ORONO, Maine — A remorseful Micah Wright said he is glad to be back with his University of Maine football teammates.
The Black Bears’ All-Colonial Athletic Association wide receiver-punt returner was suspended the first week of August along with running back Darian Davis-Ray and defensive lineman Uchenna Egwuonwu for alleged violations of the student code of conduct.
Wright, a junior, was reinstated last Wednesday but didn’t travel to James Madison on Sept. 23 for the Black Bears’ 28-10 loss to the defending Football Championship Subdivision champs.
UMaine (1-2) had this weekend off and returns to action Oct. 7 at Villanova.
Davis-Ray was reinstated on Aug. 11 but Egwuonwu remains suspended.
Wright’s suspension was his second at UMaine. He missed the first two games of the 2016 season after being arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after police had to deal with a large party at an Orono apartment complex.
The charge was dismissed in a plea agreement deal with the Penobscot County district attorney’s office in November and he instead pleaded guilty to a civil violation of illegally possessing alcohol. He paid a $300 fine.
Wright declined to discuss the details of the situation that led to his most recent suspension, but said knows his actions negatively impacted the team. He has apologized to his teammates.
“I let them down last year and I took it even harder this year,” Wright said. “Obviously, having something like this happen a second time is not something I’m proud of.
“Anything like this affects the team in a negative way. I’m trying to move past it and show these guys I’m sorry for everything that has happened,” he added.
Wright, who was suspended for seven weeks, admitted he was worried that he wouldn’t be reinstated.
“It was obviously a concern. But it’s resolved now. It’s the least of my worries at this point,” said Wright. “It was a long process, and I’m focused on Villanova right now.”
When he received the news he had been reinstated, he said “it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I’m finally able to get back to what I love. I’m excited and appreciative to be back.”
When the three players were suspended, they weren’t allowed to practice or participate in any team activities.
“Uchenna and I worked out a little bit during the summer. Being in that spot is difficult. You have to try to find the motivation to work out and keep your hopes up that you are coming back,” Wright said.
He admitted his conditioning wasn’t up to snuff when he first returned to the team.
“The first couple of days were a little rough, but I’m coming around. I’m feeling good now,” Wright, an All-CAA first-team wide receiver and second-team punt returner a year ago, said.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of Newark, New York, led the Black Bears with 44 pass receptions for 688 yards and seven touchdowns and his 11.1 yards per punt return average led the CAA. He was second in the conference in touchdown receptions. He was a Hero Sports FCS honorable mention All-American.
Wright was a preseason All-CAA selection.
Coach Joe Harasymiak and Wright’s teammates are glad to have him back.
“He’s a game-changer and having him back makes us even better,” senior guard Isaiah Brooks said. “I’m expecting big things from him.”
“He is a huge piece of our offense,” junior tight end Drew Belcher said. “He also brings energy and leadership. It’s definitely big to have him back.”
“He gives us a lot of depth,” Harasymiak said. “He’s an all-league player. It’s good to have him back.”
He added that Wright’s usage on Saturday will depend on how he continues to progress this week.
Villanova first-year head coach Mark Ferrante said Wright has been a “great player in this league for some time.
“He’s a real good wide receiver. He has size, speed and he’s strong,” Ferrante said. “With his return, we’re going to continue to try to play our style of defense and be ready for them to deliver the ball downfield a little bit.”
Wright said his timing and on-field rapport with redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Ferguson has been coming along and he has been impressed with the team.
“Any time you can go down to the No. 1 team in the country’s place and play them tough into the fourth quarter, that’s a good sign. Obviously we’re not at that point yet (where they can beat James Madison) but we’re going to be there soon,” he said.