Micah Wright, the former wide receiver for the University of Maine, did not expect to be selected in last month’s NFL draft. But that didn’t mean he didn’t have NFL aspirations.

“I consider myself a realist,” said Wright, who graduated with a degree in University Studies. “Having torn my knee in 2017, not being 100 percent my senior season, having a couple of suspensions that I dealt with, in my head I knew (being drafted) probably was not a reality. So I really set the goal for a rookie minicamp invite. Luckily I was blessed enough to take that opportunity and run with it.”

MICAH WRIGHT

Wright was one of two former Black Bears to sign NFL contracts over the weekend following impressive performances in rookie minicamps. Wright signed with the New Orleans Saints. Linebacker Sterling Sheffield signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

They will join tight end Drew Belcher, who signed a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals, as rookies in NFL training camps this summer. Former Maine defensive tackle Pat Ricard will enter his third year with the Baltimore Ravens and offensive tackle Jamil Demby his second with the Los Angeles Rams.

“We’re excited for them,” said Nick Charlton, Maine’s first-year head football coach. “It’s really cool. First, it’s about them and the opportunity they’ve earned. And it is a positive reflection for the program.”

Wright and Sheffield were two of Maine’s top playmakers in its surprising 10-4 season that saw the team reach the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals. Wright caught 47 passes for 539 yards and six touchdowns. Sheffield has 84 tackles, 18 for a loss of yardage, along with 9.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles, one interception and seven pass breakups. Sheffield, a first-team STATS FCS all-America selection, was selected to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, a prestigious postseason senior all-star game, last January.

STERLING SHEFFIELD

Wright, who ended his Maine career with 168 catches for 2,143 yards and 21 touchdowns (along with two punt returns for touchdowns), was in the Saints’ rookie minicamp last weekend on a tryout contract. He worked out at wide receiver and punt returner.

“My goal was to come out and play football and try to impress as many people as I could,” said Wright, who is from Newark, New York. “And I guess something I was doing was right.”

Sheffield, who is from Mullica Hill, New Jersey, was worked out as a strong-side linebacker for the Bengals, who had been in contact with him since he played in the all-star game. Like Wright, Sheffield doesn’t care that he wasn’t drafted.

“Either way, I’m on a team right now,” he said. “All I needed was to get my foot in the door and that happened. All I have to do is make the most of this opportunity. It’s a blessing.”

Sheffield expects to get a lot of work at special teams with the Bengals.

“I’m going to take a lot of notes, work hard,” he said. “My goal is to be the best special teams player I can be. My goal some day is to be the best special teams player in the league.”

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