NAVARRE — Dante Wright doesn't talk trash. Doesn't high-step into the end zone. Doesn't fit the mold of a big personality on the field or off it.
So why, when asked about a player who he compares to, would the Navarre soft-spoken junior choose Deion Sanders? Yeah, that Sanders, the Hall-of-Fame showboat who high-stepped his way into earning the nicknames "Prime Time" and "Neon Deion."
Personality-wise, the two couldn't be more disparate.
But, forgive the hyperbole of comparing a 5-foot-9, 160-pound high schooler to one of the greatest players of all time, the comparison isn't completely off-base.
Wright, after all, possesses 4.4 40-yard speed. He's elusive, a nightmare in the open field. He has great hands. He's a versatile threat who can play any position — cornerback, running back, wideout, kicker.
But, most of all, like Sanders he has that big-play ability.
It was evident Thursday when he took two long passes from Sage Chambers to the house in Navarre's 28-0 Kickoff Classic win over Chiles.
"He’s really got great speed," said Jay Walls, Navarre's head coach. "If there's a player faster than him, I don't know him. He just has outstanding wheels."
A sensational sophomore campaign reinforced that.
In the backfield he averaged 10.8 yards per carry, reeled off five touchdowns and broke off a team-long 74-yard touchdown run.
Meanwhile at receiver, all he did when he touched the ball was average 21.1 yards per catch, find the end zone six times and bust off a team-long 76-yard touchdown reception.
"He had a great sophomore year and made so many big plays for us in critical situations," Walls said.
But that wasn't all.
He averaged 41 yards per kickoff return, including an 82-yard return to the house.
And, here's the kicker (pun intended), he was 57-66 on PATs, booted a 41-yard field goal in a 2-for-6 effort and was responsible for 71 of the team's 84 kickoffs.
"Whatever's best for the team, I can help in a lot of cases," Wright said. "I can be the guy on offense, the guy on defense and last year I was kicking field goals as well."
But it's his speed that's most valuable for the Raiders, who lost Michael Carter's 3,345 all-purpose yards and 45 touchdowns last year to the Tar Heels of UNC.
"I can take a hit, but I'm best in the open field," Wright said.
Cue Walls nodding his head.
"We have to find a way to get him the ball in the running and passing game. We can design a lot of plays for Dante because of his speed and knack for making plays," said the man who's lead the Raiders to the playoffs every year since he took over in 2012. "The offense will change a little with the loss of Michael, so we'll rely more on the passing game. We don't want to put all our eggs in one basket with designing our offense around him, but we also understand and respect his big-play abilities."
"If we can run and throw the ball and mix it up with other guys, that'll allow him more room."
OK Dante, it's prime time.
Who’s the best player on your team other than yourself?
Caleb Dale. He's a returning starter. He's been a good leader on defense and we're going to need that.
Who's the most underrated player on your team who’s ready to break out?
Bryson Brewer I think he's been doing really well in the offseason. I think this is his year to show what he's got.
What’s the team’s ceiling this year?
We can definitely win it all this year. We've got a shot. We lost a lot of people but we have guys that can fill those positions.
What’s the team’s basement?
I feel like at worst we'll still make the playoffs.
Are you a trash talker on the field?
No, I don't really trash talk.
Who’s your team’s biggest rival?
Definitely Gulf Breeze. They're close, they're right there. They've also gotten a lot better.
Rainy day, time to binge on some movies or TV. What are you watching?
SpongeBob. He's just random. I like that. I've been watching since i was younger.
What’s your favorite home-cooked meal?
Steak and macaroni and cheese and green beans.
What’s the most exciting play in football?
Probably a turnover, an interception. Just the change of momentum.
Compare your game to a current star in college or the NFL?
I want to be like Deion Sanders, to be that exciting on the field. Yeah, Deion Sanders.
You win the lottery. What’s the first thing you buy?
Probably a helicopter.
What’s the best part about being a Navarre Raiders.
Just having that name. Just to be a Raider is a good feeling.