BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – Colorado coach Jon Embree on Wednesday stood by his decision to include teenage cornerback Yuri Wright in his latest recruiting class, saying the highly touted prep player is remorseful over racially charged and sexually graphic postings on his Twitter account.
“I understand he made a mistake. I don’t think that’s a reason that you bury a kid,” Embree said at a news conference announcing the signing of a 28-member recruiting class.
Embree, who is starting his second season, said he had a “hard conversation” with Wright and also consulted with athletic director Mike Bohn and met with the school’s chancellor, Phil DiStefano, before going forward with the scholarship commitment.
Wright was expelled from his private Catholic high school, Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., last month. The school took the action after a series of tweets came to light that included derogatory racial references and graphic sexual comments.
Embree said Wright is appealing his expulsion. Should that be denied – Embree said a ruling is expected by the end of this week – Wright also has prepared paperwork to enroll at another school to ensure his graduation.
Highlights from Embree’s news conference in the video below:
Wright also has issued an apology that was reported by ESPN.
“I definitely learned a valuable lesson and I promise nothing like that will ever happen again. Everyone that knows me knows that’s not my true character or who I really am,” Wright told ESPN. “I’m not going to sit here and try and make excuses for what I did. I’m just going to be a man and say I was wrong and I learned from it. … My days with social media are over. I promise.”
While Michigan and possibly other schools dropped consideration of Wright, one of the highest ranking recruits in the country, Embree said that wasn’t a consideration with him. In his meeting with the chancellor, he told DiStefano that it was part of his job to help the young man.
“Part of my responsibility sitting here in this chair is to mentor and teach African-American boys how to become men, how to be men,” Embree said. “Too often in our community there is no one there to help them.”
He also was convinced that continuing the recruiting process with Wright was the right thing to do after speaking with him last Friday.
“It was a hard conversation. The kid had been crying,” Embree said. “I told him, ‘No matter what happens, I’ll be there.’ It’s easy to judge. It’s easy to call someone out. But with the conversation I had with him and knowing how much this hurt him, I’m glad he chose to come here.”
That said, Embree added that he also has met with his team and given them new guidelines for using social media.
“I don’t want to ban them because that train has left the station,” Embree said.
However, he told his players, and he’ll reiterate to the incoming recruits these ground rules: “Don’t tweet anything about girls. Don’t use the N-word and don’t tweet anything about your teammates, even if you think it’s a joke.”
Embree, who like Wright is African-American, said the most disappointing aspect of Wright’s tweets was his use of a racial slur.
“There’s just no place for it,” Embree said. “Unfortunately, it’s a generational thing. They say it like, ‘It’s my homeboy.’ What they don’t understand is the connotation of that word. I don’t think they, unfortunately, understand the struggles associated with being African-American, and to overcome some of those things. And obviously, with the music, it kind of numbs you to it. I’m not judging it. I’m just speaking from me. That was the most disappointing thing about that, not to say the other things weren’t disappointing.”
But he added that he’s certain Wright has learned from the episode.
“He touched a hot stove,” Embree said. “I’ll be surprised if he touches it again. He’s very remorseful. He is a good kid. He made a mistake, one I’m confident he will not repeat.”
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