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January 20, 2012

Offensive tweets lead to expulsion of star

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Yuri Wright, one of the best high school cornerbacks in the country, has spent most of his senior year trying to decide what college to attend.

This weekend - because of his own Twitter account - he has to look for a new high school first.

Wright was expelled from Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep on Thursday after a series of offensive tweets that were sexually graphic and racially insensitive were discovered on his Twitter account.

The remarks forced the hand of the all-boys private school in Bergen County, one that has finished in the Top 10 nationally the past three years, including No. 2 this past season.

"He's a good kid and I think he has a bright college future and I wish him the best of luck," Don Bosco head coach Greg Toal told nj.com. "There is no question Don Bosco had to do what it had to do."

Wright is listed as the No. 85 overall recruit in the country in the final Rivals250 rankings. He is considered the seventh-best player at his position and third-best talent in the state of New Jersey.

At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, he has the size, strength and speed to be a big-time college player. It's the reason schools such as Michigan, Notre Dame, Georgia, Colorado and Rutgers were among his five finalists.

Michigan has pulled its offer - other schools were mulling doing so.

This is just the last example of how social media mistakes can impact teenagers.

"To my knowledge this is the highest profile prospect to be dropped by a college program and expelled from school over Twitter," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said.

Wright has not commented since the episode unfolded. But Farrell, who has dealt with Wright personally throughout his high school career, knows how big an impact this is.

"This has ruined Yuri's chance to attend the school he has labeled as his dream school in Michigan and it could cause other schools to back off as well," he said. "Hopefully this example will send a wake-up call to high profile prospects moving forward to watch what they put out in cyberspace."

Not that Wright hasn't been warned.

"I know conversations about Facebook and Twitter occur all the time at high schools, especially at Don Bosco," Farrell said.

In fact, Farrell said, Toal has been preaching personal accountability for more than a decade - and about more than just social media.

"Coach Toal teaches the kids more than just football," Farrell said. "He's always teaching them about representing themselves and their school - on the field, on recruiting trips, on home visits by coaches. Don Bosco is the last place I would expect this to happen."

And Wright one of the last kids.

"I've talked to Yuri many times," Farrell said. "I've seen him at practice, with other kids and he's always been very polite, very respectful. Shy in a lot of ways."

The initial story was first published on Thursday on a Michigan fan site as an explanation for why the Wolverines had stopped recruiting the four-star defensive back. It has been met with some backlash as Wright's comments were pulled from a private - not public - Twitter account and intended for his own personal friends.

That being said, the account had more than 1,500 followers.

Sources close to Wright said he has other scholastic options and graduating from high school will not be an issue.

How it impacts his collegiate destination remains to be seen. It's unclear if Rutgers - which was supposed to host Wright this weekend - will do so.

Farrell, who has been covering recruiting for more than a decade, thinks colleges will come around again after dealing with the initial public relations fallout.

National Signing Day - the point in which recruits can officially sign Letters of Intent to schools - is on Feb. 1. But athletes do not have to declare their intentions on that day. Many wait days, weeks or months before making a decision.

Farrell feels schools will hold a spot for Wright long past signing day.

"From a college recruiting standpoint however, I don't expect this to keep Yuri Wright from being a major college football prospect," he said. "I know that two new schools jumped in on his recruitment Thursday night expecting a few others to drop out and I expect he will be heavily recruited up until Signing Day.

"I've followed kids who have done much, much worse in high school and still ended up earning college scholarships and going on to excellent careers. He did not commit a crime here while others have and still gone on to college. He's a 17-year-old kid who made a mistake and I hope others learn from it and become more responsible on Facebook and Twitter with their comments."

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