Former Cortland High School athlete takes dive into professional football - Meet Caleb Wright

A Cortland native is getting back into the swing of things on the gridiron.

Caleb Wright, a Class of 2010 graduate of Cortland High School, is set to make his debut this Sunday with the The Southwest Kansas Storm – a Champions Indoor Football League (CIF) franchise based in Dodge City, Kansas.

Wright played football and basketball for the Purple Tigers’ varsity programs. He went on to play basketball for Tompkins Cortland Community College, prior to joining the basketball and football teams at Morrisville State.

In Cortland, Wright runs ClockedIn Fitness Strength & Conditioning, a gym and fitness training facility that “basically is mindset, attitude and speaks to someone’s work ethic,” he added.

“Basically what we do is train kids straight through conditioning, speed, agility (and more). We do everything different to help kids get better,” Wright said. “It’s something I’ve been trying to translate not only in the city of Cortland, but the towns and cities outside of it.”

A year ago, Wright noted that he wasn’t planning to play football in the near future. Now, Wright is in line to put on the pads for the Storm on Sunday and face off against the Omaha Beef in Nebraska.

Wright is listed as a defensive back/linebacker on the Storm roster.

“I was going to be completely done with football last year,” he said. “If you asked me a year ago if I was going to play football, I would have said no.”

Mark Timberlake, head coach of the Storm, mentioned that agents and talent scouts told him about a “very talented, smart and motivated young man by the name of Caleb Wright.”

“So I looked into (Caleb). He was definitely someone we wanted to extend a contract to,” Timberlake said. Timberlake, a football coach for 21 years, has been the head coach of the Storm for three years, the same amount of time the CIF has been in existence.

Timberlake has been recruiting players for the past six months across the country to fill his roster.

“It’s pretty fun to have athletes at this caliber,” he said. “We’ve got a large number of young men that are like (Caleb) on our team. We just don’t want athletes, we want character.”

The CIF consists of eight teams from Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Iowa, South Dakota and Montana. The Storm’s schedule includes 11 games, Wright said.

“It’s one of the better arena leagues that you can play in,” he added. “It’s a different type of arena football (because) everybody is close. It’s almost like being in a hockey arena. The fan interaction is right there.”

Wright said the CIF is a “fast-paced game and high scoring,” adding that he believes eight players in total are on the field at a time.

“You can tackle people over the wall, and right into the crowd,” he added. “It’s kind of cool and different.”

Wright, who noted he is close to wrapping up training camp with the Storm, is looking forward to Sunday.

“Opportunity comes at different times, and you just need to be ready for it,” he said. “If you have a dream to play or go out and do different things that you want to do in life, don’t let anyone tell you that you can't. It might take you a little longer than you think, but if you chase it the right way and work hard enough, you can definitely do what you want to do.”

A deeper look at Wright and his family’s history of playing football (all submitted from Caleb and in Wright’s words):

Pastor Nate Wright (My dad): Started off playing football at South Hunterdon Regional Highschool in Lambertville, New Jersey. Graduating from a small high school in New Jersey, Syracuse University football coaches were impressed with his talents and offered him a full scholarship. He played there and started 3 years. Following graduation from Syracuse and going undrafted in the NFL Draft, he signed a 3 year contract with the Buffalo Bills. In 2018, he was inducted into the South Hunterdon Athletic Hall of fame!

Josh Wright (Brother): Started playing football in elementary school for the Smith School Legion. Then, he played high school football at Cortland high school (where he excelled at defensive end, tight end and quarterback)! Following graduation, he then played four years of college football at Utica College (where he was a stand out tight end). 

Nathaniel Wright (Brother): Started off playing football in elementary school for the Smith School Legion, as well as the Saint Mary’s elementary school team. He then played football at Cortland High School (where he was a stand out linebacker). 

Qwuhail Barlow (Cousin, but basically my brother): 

Started off playing elementary school football for the Smith School Legion. Played his high school football for Cortland high school. Where he was a stand out wide receiver who STILL HOLDS the record (September 16,2011) of most receiving yards in a game which is 321. Following high school graduation qwuhail went on to play basketball at Mohawk valley Junior college for 2 years and then basketball at Morrisville State College for 2 years. 

Me: Started off playing football in elementary school with the Smith Legion. Then I played high school football at Cortland high school (where I excelled at linebacker and wide receiver). Following high school graduation, I went on and played football at Utica college my freshman year, transferred to TC3 (Tompkins Cortland community college) and played collegiate basketball there (where I was apart of the 2012-2013 conference championship team), then transferred to Morrisville State College (where I was apart of a 2014 conference championship and Elite 8 basketball team). In 2014, I was also a part of the Morrisville State football conference championship (first and only  “bowl game” win in the school's history). Following my senior year of football at Morrisville, I was named to the all conference team as a safety and was elected an All-American safety.