[ {"id":"66a598c4-28b7-11e7-964a-7312ff0addcf","type":"article","starttime":"1493049600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-24T09:00:00-07:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona Wildcats football: RichRod on Khalil Tate\u2019s progress, spring ball, OL depth","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_66a598c4-28b7-11e7-964a-7312ff0addcf.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-football-richrod-on-khalil-tate-s-progress-spring/article_66a598c4-28b7-11e7-964a-7312ff0addcf.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-football-richrod-on-khalil-tate-s-progress-spring/article_66a598c4-28b7-11e7-964a-7312ff0addcf.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":5,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Michael Lev\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"UA coach Rich Rodriguez discusses a variety of topics in an exclusive interview with the Star.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["arizona wildcats football","rich rodriguez","khalil tate"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"1f65d070-0068-55a6-b2dd-d1883e44b57b","description":"Arizona quarterbacks Brandon Dawkins, background, and Khalil Tate sign autographs for the few hundred to brave the heat for a meet the fans day at Arizona Stadium, Saturday, April 22, 2017, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star","byline":"Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":1869,"hiresheight":1109,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/f6/1f65d070-0068-55a6-b2dd-d1883e44b57b/58fc098019870.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1170","height":"694","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/f6/1f65d070-0068-55a6-b2dd-d1883e44b57b/58fc098018894.image.jpg?resize=1170%2C694"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/f6/1f65d070-0068-55a6-b2dd-d1883e44b57b/58fc098018894.image.jpg?crop=1869%2C1051%2C0%2C0&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/f6/1f65d070-0068-55a6-b2dd-d1883e44b57b/58fc098018894.image.jpg?crop=1869%2C1051%2C0%2C0&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/f6/1f65d070-0068-55a6-b2dd-d1883e44b57b/58fc098018894.image.jpg?crop=1869%2C1051%2C0%2C0&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"66a598c4-28b7-11e7-964a-7312ff0addcf","body":"

After signing autographs and chatting with fans for an hour at Arizona\u2019s \u201cFan Appreciation Day,\u201d Rich Rodriguez was ready to talk football.

The sixth-year coach sat down on the stairway just past the Wildcats locker room inside the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility and discussed a variety of topics in an exclusive interview with the Star on Saturday.

Rodriguez had a lot to say about the new NCAA football reforms, and we\u2019ll get to that at a later date. In the meantime, here are some of Rodriguez\u2019s takes on the current UA squad as the Wildcats head toward summer workouts:

On QB Khalil Tate\u2019s breakout performance in the final spring scrimmage: \u201cIt helped him. He\u2019d had a pretty solid spring. But that was the best he had played. I don\u2019t necessarily believe in guys that are \u2018gamers\u2019 and then turn it on when the lights are on. You\u2019ve got to do it every day. He\u2019s a very talented guy that it\u2019s important to. He\u2019ll keep getting better. We needed him to push Brandon (Dawkins) more. Brandon\u2019s a good player, but everybody needs competition.\u201d

On whether that performance changed Rodriguez\u2019s perception of Tate: \u201cThat single practice didn\u2019t, even though it helped him from the standpoint that he needed to progress. You don\u2019t want guys staying level; you want them to keep getting better. He got better in that practice.\u201d

On his overall impressions of spring practice, which concluded March 31: \u201cYou\u2019re always working on attitude and culture. It\u2019s always been pretty good. But this spring was as good as we\u2019ve had. I\u2019m talking about enthusiasm, effort, the willingness to compete. The retention of some stuff that we carried over from the fall scheme-wise and new things that we wanted to put in. It was very productive. I would have liked to have had 10 more practices. I don\u2019t think the players would\u2019ve.\u201d

On the defensive player who stood out most in spring: \u201cSome of the veterans, you want them to still get better. You talk about a guy like Parker Zellers. He came here as unrecruited walk-on that nobody knew anything about. Undersized. And he made himself into a player. This spring he was even better. He\u2019s a guy you\u2019ve got to throw out of drills. That\u2019s an example of that edge we\u2019ve got to keep fostering. At times you can maybe lose that a little bit. We can\u2019t afford to lose that hard edge here.\u201d

On the depth of the offensive line after the departure of Keenan Walker: \u201cWhen I look at it now \u2013 and you don\u2019t know for sure how the newcomers are going to perform until they get here \u2013 that\u2019s the only position where I\u2019m not as comfortable that we have as much competition as we do other positions. That\u2019s one position we\u2019re addressing in recruiting. It\u2019s probably not as deep as I\u2019d like it to be.\u201d

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As Arizona\u2019s \u201cFan Appreciation Day\u201d began on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon, Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez wisely found a shady spot to sign autographs.

With temperatures climbing into the 90s, Rodriguez sat under a tent next to the entrance to the UA locker room at Arizona Stadium. His players were scattered about the field, baking on the artificial turf but happily signing team posters, jerseys, hats and mini-helmets.

The event drew several hundred fans, but it might have attracted more if Arizona had an indoor facility in which to hold it.

Rodriguez reiterated his desire for an enclosed practice facility in an interview with the Star, repeating a familiar line: \u201cIt\u2019s not just a want. It\u2019s a need.\u201d

New athletic director Dave Heeke shares Rodriguez\u2019s view that a multipurpose training facility would benefit all UA student-athletes. But building one falls firmly in the category of easier said than done.

Costs vary widely on such facilities depending on their size and other bells and whistles, but even a minimalist version likely would exceed $10 million. The Arizona Board of Regents recently approved a $100 per-student athletics fee, which won\u2019t come close to covering the costs of the various facility upgrades the UA needs.

As Heeke wrote in a recent \u201cWildcat Wednesday\u201d newsletter: \u201cThe expected revenue produced by the student fee, along with a generous, private $5 million donation, will make it possible for athletics to borrow approximately $75 million to get started on some, but not all, of our various infrastructure projects.\u201d

An indoor training facility would give the football team a place to escape the heat and avoid monsoons during summer workouts and training camp. It also would provide a venue for other student-athletes to train and for fans to gather before football and basketball games.

\u201cIt would be a great place to get out of the heat, to be in an air-conditioned place to tailgate,\u201d Rodriguez said. \u201cOther sports could use it. It would be the only one in Southern Arizona. That thing would be used more than probably any facility on campus.\u201d

\u201cLast year wasn\u2019t
what we want\u201d

Heeke was working at Central Michigan when Arizona endured a 3-9 season last fall, the worst of Rodriguez\u2019s tenure.

Heeke understandably is taking a wait-and-see approach with Rodriguez and all of the Wildcats coaches.

\u201cI\u2019m the new guy,\u201d said Heeke, who has been on the job for three weeks. \u201cI\u2019m trying to listen a lot and learn.\u201d

Regarding Rodriguez and the football program specifically, Heeke said: \u201cIt\u2019s no secret. Rich and I have talked. Last year wasn\u2019t what we want. It wasn\u2019t what they expected, what Rich expects or wants.\u201d

Heeke believes Rodriguez is doing the right thing by recommitting to recruiting, although it remains to be seen when those efforts will pay dividends in the win-loss column.

Walker needed
\u201cfresh start\u201d

Rodriguez said offensive tackle Keenan Walker, who recently announced plans to transfer, \u201cneeds a fresh start somewhere.\u201d

Walker, a former four-star recruit from Scottsdale Chaparral, redshirted last season as a freshman. His time at Arizona was marred by injuries and off-the-field issues.

\u201cI always tell the players: All I do is enforce the decisions that they make, right or wrong,\u201d Rodriguez said. \u201cMore than anything, he\u2019s got to get himself committed academically and to the game of football if he wants to have success anywhere.\u201d

Extra points

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As the 2018 recruiting cycle picks up, more football players in Tucson are getting major-college attention than at any time in the past few years.

Amphitheater offensive lineman David Watson and Cienega quarterback Jamarye Joiner have already committed to Arizona, and Salpointe Catholic offensive lineman Matteo Mele has offers from Arizona, Oregon, UCLA and others.

Mountain View defensive lineman Kai Golden holds offers from Virginia and New Mexico State.

One of the most highly recruited players in the area, though, isn\u2019t even technically from The Old Pueblo.

Pima College linebacker Bryant Pirtle recently received a scholarship offer from Arizona. Pirtle originally hails from Louisville, Kentucky. He committed to Western Kentucky out of high school but wound up starting off his career in junior college.

Pirtle began at a community college in Mississippi, but flipped to Pima before last season.

\u201cI didn\u2019t really like it\u201d in Mississippi, Pirtle said, \u201cand my dad found the coach, and that got me to Pima.\u201d

UA assistant Calvin Magee recently offered Pirtle his first Pac-12 scholarship. The linebacker said it was \u201cpretty cool\u201d to get that offer, \u201cespecially with it being down the road from the school I\u2019m at now.\u201d

Pima struggled in 2016, finishing 3-6. Pirtle ended the season with 29 tackles and 4\u0192 sacks.

Beyond making his college decision, Pirtle said the focus in his last season in junior college is getting Pima back to winning games.

\u201cI really just want to improve our play as a team,\u201d he said. \u201cWe have to perform better than we did last year.\u201d

It\u2019s no secret that Arizona needs depth at the linebacker position. Pirtle, listed at 6 feet 3 inches and 225 pounds, would help in that regard, though it won\u2019t be easy for the Wildcats to keep Pirtle in Tucson.

Earlier this month, Louisville offered Pirtle a scholarship.

\u201cIt was pretty cool,\u201d said Pirtle, a former star at DeSales High School in Louisville. \u201cI didn\u2019t really expect it when they did, but it was awesome to get an offer from back home.\u201d

That doesn\u2019t necessarily make Louisville a lock, though Pirtle said the idea of playing close to home sounds appealing.

\u201cI mean yeah it does,\u201d he said, \u201cbut I haven\u2019t really been thinking about that. I\u2019ve just been focusing on class and making sure I graduate on time.\u201d

Wildcats loading up on Defensive linemen

Arizona\u2019s defensive line has been a problem area for much of the Rich Rodriguez era at Arizona. The UA staff is trying to rectify that problem.

Arizona will welcome defensive ends My-King Johnson and Jalen Harris in the fall; defensive tackles Sione Taufahema and Kurtis Brown will join them.

UA received its first 2018 defensive line commitment Wednesday, when Adam Plant of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School verbally committed. Plant is 6-4, 240-pounder who Scout.com rates as a three-star recruit. He held offers from Penn State and USC at the time he committed to the UA.

\u201cThe coaches told me that I will have a chance to be a pass rusher for them right away as long as I am willing to work hard,\u201d Plant told Scout.com.

Arizona isn\u2019t done. Coaches have 15 scholarship offers out to defensive linemen for 2018, with more coming. Some of the top targets include Tyler Manoa (Mountain View, California), Jonathan Lolohea (Copiah-Lincoln CC in Wesson, Mississippi) and Paul Maile (Salt Lake City).

Manoa recently listed Arizona as one of his top five schools, along with California, Colorado, Utah and BYU.

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(See the video below).\u00a0 The tight end popped his head into the briefing room and jokingly asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer whether he needed any help, drawing laughs. \"I think I got this. But thank you,\" Spicer responded.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"0613e952-260a-11e7-be8b-3b6bce84ca62","description":"New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) talks to a teammate on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. 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The New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski paid a surprise visit to the White House briefing room during Wednesday's televised briefing. (See the video below).\u00a0

The tight end popped his head into the briefing room and jokingly asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer whether he needed any help, drawing laughs. \"I think I got this. But thank you,\" Spicer responded.

The Super Bowl champions visited the White House on Wednesday to accept congratulations from President Donald Trump for another NFL title.

Spicer, a Patriots fan, seemed to appreciate the interruption, saying: \"that was cool.\" \u00a0

"}, {"id":"75fe689c-2569-11e7-866c-4b59f328d77d","type":"article","starttime":"1492652520","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-19T18:42:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1492653054","priority":40,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona Wildcats receive commitment from 2018 D-lineman Adam Plant","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_75fe689c-2569-11e7-866c-4b59f328d77d.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-receive-commitment-from-d-lineman-adam-plant/article_75fe689c-2569-11e7-866c-4b59f328d77d.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-receive-commitment-from-d-lineman-adam-plant/article_75fe689c-2569-11e7-866c-4b59f328d77d.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":4,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Zack Rosenblatt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Arizona adds a defensive end to its 2018 class.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#editorspick","#latest"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"14389b88-95a1-54ac-a0c4-db20aa8bd126","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"640","height":"360","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/43/14389b88-95a1-54ac-a0c4-db20aa8bd126/584afcac520ec.image.jpg?resize=640%2C360"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/43/14389b88-95a1-54ac-a0c4-db20aa8bd126/584afcac520ec.image.jpg?resize=100%2C56"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/43/14389b88-95a1-54ac-a0c4-db20aa8bd126/584afcac520ec.image.jpg?resize=300%2C169"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/43/14389b88-95a1-54ac-a0c4-db20aa8bd126/584afcac520ec.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":4,"commentID":"75fe689c-2569-11e7-866c-4b59f328d77d","body":"

Arizona's first two recruit commitments for its 2018 class both came from Tucson.

That local streak ended on Wednesday \u2014 Las Vegas defensive end Adam Plant announced his verbal commitment to the Wildcats in a post on Twitter.\u00a0

Plant joins Amphi offensive lineman David Watson and Cienega quarterback\u00a0Jamarye Joiner\u00a0as part of Arizona's three-person 2018 class.\u00a0

Plant comes from Bishop Gorman, a national high school football power that also produced former UA quarterback\u00a0Anu Solomon.\u00a0

The 6-4, 240-pounder is rated a three-star recruit by Scout.com, the second-best defensive end in Nevada and No. 12 in the West. Plant also holds offers from USC and Penn State.\u00a0

I am honored and proud to announce that I will be committing to the University Of Arizona #BearDown \ud83d\udc3b\ud83d\udd34\ud83d\udd35\ud83c\udfc8 pic.twitter.com/Z7Y1nAUGbD

\u2014 Adam Plant Jr. (@adamplant9) April 20, 2017
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B.J. Denker is back, and he couldn\u2019t be happier about it.

\u201cIt feels a little weird,\u201d the former Arizona Wildcats quarterback said, \u201cbut a good weird.\u201d

Denker, who\u2019s now an analyst for the team, considers Tucson to be home. It required a couple of other stops along the way to complete the journey, one closer and more conventional than the other.

Before joining the UA staff this spring, Denker spent two seasons as a graduate assistant for Texas A&M in College Station. Before serving as a student assistant at Arizona in 2014, Denker spent about three months playing quarterback for the Basel Gladiators in Switzerland.

But Denker has thought about coaching since he was a teenager, years before his breakout 2013 season for Arizona, when he passed for 2,516 yards, rushed for 949 and accounted for 29 touchdowns.

Denker established relationships with Rich Rodriguez, Rod Smith, Calvin Magee and others during his time in Tucson, and he parlayed those connections into a coaching gig.

Denker, 26, discussed his return to Arizona and other topics with local media during the final week of spring practice. Here\u2019s a portion of that conversation:

How did this opportunity come about?

A: \u201cI always stayed in contact with the coaching staff here \u2013 Coach Smith, Coach Magee, Coach Rod. Just asking them how they\u2019re doing, congratulating them on wins. After the season, I had a conversation with Coach Smith. They said there might be a position opening. I just kind of went from there.\u201d

When did you first realize you wanted to go into coaching?

A: \u201cProbably in high school, freshman year. I always knew. I always played quarterback. I always tell everybody, quarterback is like an extension of the coaching staff. It fit me well. I always wanted to coach. I always wanted to stay in sports, in football. It\u2019s been a fit like that forever.\u201d

What can you provide this particular team?

A: \u201cI\u2019m just here to help the quarterbacks and help the team any way I can. I\u2019ve got some experience. I played. I can put myself in their shoes. They can look at me and say, \u2018He\u2019s done this before. He might know what he\u2019s talking about.\u2019 This offense is the same one I played (in).\u201d

What are your specific day-to-day responsibilities?

A: \u201cJust helping out Coach Smith with the quarterbacks, anything that he needs. And helping out with junior-college recruiting, specifically in California and Arizona. I was a junior-college kid. I know what to look for and what it\u2019s like.\u201d

Was the way Arizona beat Arizona State last year straight out of the Denker playbook?

A: \u201cAnytime you can beat Arizona State it\u2019s a win, a positive, a plus, something to celebrate. The fact that they did it so dominantly on the ground just puts a little salt in the wound, which is always great for Wildcat fans across the country.\u201d

What did you learn during your time at Texas A&M under Kevin Sumlin?

A: \u201cGetting to see a different perspective on how things are done \u2013 how Coach Sumlin runs a program vs. how Coach Rodriguez runs a program. Right, wrong or indifferent, everyone has different philosophies and views. That was kind of cool to see. Working with coaches from different backgrounds, and players. We\u2019ve got a lot more Texas players on Texas A&M obviously, a lot more East Coast kids. Being able to work with (different) personalities and see what the difference in talent is.

\u201cIt was a good learning experience. Also X\u2019s and O\u2019s. Anytime you can learn some new schemes that\u2019s always great as a coach.\u201d

Was there anything in particular that Coach Sumlin did that stood out to you?

A: \u201cThey throw the (term) \u2018players\u2019 coach\u2019 around a lot. He really is. He\u2019s big on recovery and treatment. Pre-maintenance \u2013 \u2018prehab\u2019 is what we called it. He ran it like a professional football team in a sense.\u201d

What has RichRod meant to your career?

A: \u201cHe\u2019s meant the world to me. He was the first coach that recruited me, the first that gave me a starting position, the first coach that gave me a \u2018job\u2019 out of college when I was a student assistant here. He helped me get my first real job at A&M, and now he\u2019s brought me back.

\"All my success as a player and coach goes to Coach Rodriguez and the staff. Coach Smith has been a mentor too. And Coach Magee\u2019s been great. Those three guys specifically have helped me. Wherever I go from here has a lot to do with them, and Coach Sumlin too.\u201d

Where do you want to go from here? Would you like to be a head coach someday?

A: \u201cOh yeah. I feel like that\u2019s why you do it. That\u2019s why you coach, to be a head coach. That\u2019s why you play, because you want to be the best player. The ultimate goal is to be a college, Division I coach. If the stars align, I would love to coach here someday. That would be great.\u201d

"}, {"id":"bd5e23e8-2498-11e7-a761-5b56ba070b2d","type":"link","starttime":"1492562400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-18T17:40:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1492638283","priority":42,"sections":[{"football":"sports/arizonawildcats/football"}],"flags":{"top_story":"true","editors_pick":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Lumberjacks, Cougars and Miners: A way-too-early look at Arizona Wildcats' 2017 football schedule","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/lumberjacks-cougars-and-miners-a-way-too-early-look-at/collection_f75045b8-2484-11e7-8bab-4b38379f1192.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/lumberjacks-cougars-and-miners-a-way-too-early-look-at/collection_f75045b8-2484-11e7-8bab-4b38379f1192.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Here's a look at who the Wildcats will face this upcoming football season.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#top5sports","#editorspick","#topread"],"customProperties":{"label":"UA FOOTBALL"},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"6fca4d6f-53a3-5b34-8bf6-d23ee99c988f","description":"Arizona Wildcats running back Zach Green (34) streaks for the last effort of his 56-yard run during the third quarter ahead of Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Chad Adams (21) and defensive lineman Koron Crump (4) of the Arizona State University Sun Devils vs. University of Arizona Wildcats in the Territorial Cup college football game on Nov. 25, 2016, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. 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The line's immediate future looks bright.","byline":"Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":1678,"hiresheight":1234,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/2f/02faf31e-4d27-5bfd-b0a7-c32d6b71758b/583936c38ddd3.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1033","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/2f/02faf31e-4d27-5bfd-b0a7-c32d6b71758b/583936c38cdc7.image.jpg?resize=1033%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/2f/02faf31e-4d27-5bfd-b0a7-c32d6b71758b/583936c38cdc7.image.jpg?crop=1678%2C943%2C0%2C55&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/2f/02faf31e-4d27-5bfd-b0a7-c32d6b71758b/583936c38cdc7.image.jpg?crop=1678%2C943%2C0%2C55&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/2f/02faf31e-4d27-5bfd-b0a7-c32d6b71758b/583936c38cdc7.image.jpg?crop=1678%2C943%2C0%2C55&resize=1024%2C575&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":11,"commentID":"5de44e2a-2131-11e7-acec-4f1b1bf2a86b","body":"

In assessing the Arizona Wildcats\u2019 offensive-line depth, it\u2019s essential to look at it through two lenses: the present and the future.

The present looks just fine.

\u201cBetter than I\u2019ve felt since I\u2019ve been here,\u201d said OL coach Jim Michalczik, who\u2019s entering his fifth season at the UA. \u201cWe only lost one senior (Freddie Tagaloa). We\u2019ve got some guys back with experience. We\u2019ve got some guys that are going to step up and hopefully grow and challenge for spots.\u201d

I share Michalczik\u2019s optimism about the line in 2017. Left tackle Layth Friekh and right guard Jacob Alsadek are as seasoned and solid as they come. Center Nathan Eldridge should be better. Right tackle Gerhard de Beer, if healthy, should be better. Promising redshirt freshman Michael Eletise should provide an upgrade at left guard. Oh, and the last time we saw the line in a real game, it made ASU look like NAU.

Beyond 2017? Well, that\u2019s a different story.

Arizona did not add a scholarship lineman in its \u201917 signing class. (Edgar Burrola of Las Vegas Desert Pines is expected to join the team in training camp as a blueshirt but was not part of the initial, official class.) The Wildcats were expecting tackle prospect Cody Shear to sign, but the native of Eugene, Oregon, flipped to his hometown school in the wee hours of National Signing Day.

This week, Arizona lost another talented tackle when Keenan Walker announced his intention to transfer. Walker\u2019s brief UA career was marred by injuries and off-the-field issues. He leaves Tucson with more arrests (one) than games played (zero) in a Wildcats uniform.

Who knows whether Walker ever would have gotten his act together here. The greater point is that it\u2019s another loss at a position lacking sufficient depth down the road.

Arizona has 11 scholarship offensive linemen on its roster for next season. You\u2019d like to be in the 13-15 range.

With three players set to depart after this season \u2013 Alsadek, Friekh and de Beer \u2013 the Wildcats would need to add five linemen to get to that minimum threshold in 2018.

They\u2019re off to a good start with the recent verbal commitment of local product and legacy kid David Watson. The UA has tons of offers out to offensive linemen. It needs to hit on several of them.

Michalczik praised walk-ons Jon Jacobs and Josh McCauley, and Arizona is adding others in what I\u2019ll call its supplemental signing class, which mainly consists of preferred walk-ons. But as I\u2019ve mentioned previously in this space, that\u2019s not the ideal way to go about building a program.

Here\u2019s how the offensive line breaks down in terms of projected final seasons at the UA. The list includes only players currently on scholarship and those projected to be (e.g., Watson):

The 2022 total obviously will grow, and others could change if Arizona adds transfers and/or awards scholarships to walk-ons, as it did with Boettcher.

The cupboard isn\u2019t bare. Its shelves just aren\u2019t stocked as fully as they need to be.

"}, {"id":"def2a08e-1eed-11e7-b21c-efbff37b38f4","type":"article","starttime":"1491940320","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-11T12:52:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1492652509","priority":42,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona Wildcats offensive lineman Keenan Walker plans to transfer","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_def2a08e-1eed-11e7-b21c-efbff37b38f4.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-offensive-lineman-keenan-walker-plans-to-transfer/article_def2a08e-1eed-11e7-b21c-efbff37b38f4.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-offensive-lineman-keenan-walker-plans-to-transfer/article_def2a08e-1eed-11e7-b21c-efbff37b38f4.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":4,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Zack Rosenblatt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"An Arizona offensive lineman announces his intent to transfer from the Wildcats.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#editorspick","#top5sports"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"9d0d7c62-f62e-11e6-875d-5307f801bc96","description":"Arizona lineman Keenan Walker comes out of his stand on a snap working with the offense on the first day of practice for Arizona's spring season, Saturday, February 18, 2017, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star","byline":"Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":3638,"hiresheight":2283,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/d0/9d0d7c62-f62e-11e6-875d-5307f801bc96/58a8d30283e10.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1170","height":"734","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/d0/9d0d7c62-f62e-11e6-875d-5307f801bc96/58a8d3028164f.image.jpg?resize=1170%2C734"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/d0/9d0d7c62-f62e-11e6-875d-5307f801bc96/58a8d3028164f.image.jpg?crop=1817%2C1022%2C0%2C0&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/d0/9d0d7c62-f62e-11e6-875d-5307f801bc96/58a8d3028164f.image.jpg?crop=1817%2C1022%2C0%2C0&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/d0/9d0d7c62-f62e-11e6-875d-5307f801bc96/58a8d3028164f.image.jpg?crop=1817%2C1022%2C0%2C0&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":8,"commentID":"def2a08e-1eed-11e7-b21c-efbff37b38f4","body":"

Arizona's top recruit from 2015 is no longer with the program.\u00a0

Tuesday, offensive lineman\u00a0Keenan Walker\u00a0announced his intention to leave the UA. Walker told the Star he plans to transfer and play elsewhere.

Walker's decision to leave ends a bumpy couple of years since he headed Arizona's 2015 recruiting class as a four-star recruit from Scottsdale Chaparral.\u00a0

After suffering a knee injury during his senior high school season, Walker grayshirted Arizona's 2015 campaign and joined the UA in the spring session of 2016.\u00a0

That summer, Walker had some legal trouble after being arrested in Scottsdale. He was charged with assault and disorderly conduct after events that transpired outside of a nightclub.\u00a0

In the fall, UA coach\u00a0Rich Rodriguez implied that Walker was suspended as a result of the summer incident, and Walker wound up redshirting his true freshman season anyway.

Walker, a redshirt freshman, was held out for much of Arizona's spring drills this year as he dealt with an ankle injury.

The 6-5, 283-pounder was a highly regarded recruit in 2015, picking the Wildcats over offers from Ohio State, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Washington, Nebraska and Arizona State.\u00a0

With Walker's departure, that leaves the Wildcats with 12 scholarship offensive linemen, without any new additions as part of Arizona's 2017 recruiting class. The Wildcats are set to lose key seniors\u00a0Jacob Alsadek,\u00a0Layth Friekh and\u00a0Gerhard de Beer after this season.\u00a0

Walker was expected to play a reserve role in 2017 with a shot at playing time in 2018. Sunday, Arizona added a commitment from 2018 offensive lineman\u00a0David Watson, a local product from Amphitheater.\u00a0

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At Arizona\u2019s 1991 spring graduation ceremony, 18 Wildcat football players earned their degrees. That\u2019s the equivalent of an entire recruiting class. It was something you\u2019d see at Stanford.

It\u2019s no accident they were Dick Tomey\u2019s guys; Tomey was one of those coaches who didn\u2019t just talk about academics, he insisted it be a priority.

Howie Powers would become the owner of a real estate firm in Chicago. Zeno Alexander became a fire chief in Houston. Pete Russell became an NFL scout. And on and on and on.

Offensive lineman Mark Fontana, with a degree in finance, worked in the construction business in Tucson and a few years ago opened the New York Pizza Department restaurant on Wilmot Road. NYPD, get it? Fontana is from Buffalo.

Along the way, Fontana became the line coach at Cienega High School, one of Arizona\u2019s most successful high school programs. He coached his son Vaughn, who would play at Pima College, and for the last three years coached his youngest son, Bryce, a player of note for the Bobcats.

On Sunday evening at the 20th National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame banquet, Mark Fontana walked into the DoubleTree ballroom and there stood his old coach, Tomey, the night\u2019s keynote speaker.

They had seen each other just once in the 26 years since Fontana\u2019s graduation day, but as it goes with Tomey, even though Fontana was not a starter, it didn\u2019t matter a bit. The two men embraced, after which Mark introduced Bryce to his old coach.

It was impossible to know who was the most proud, the father or the coach.

The Southern Arizona Chapter of the College Football Hall of Fame is a rousing success. It originated and coordinated the selections of ex-Wildcats Ricky Hunley, Chuck Cecil, Rob Waldrop and Tedy Bruschi into the Hall of Fame. That\u2019s over the top for any school not named Notre Dame or Nebraska.

But that\u2019s just the tip of it. The Southern Arizona chapter, with such notable leaders as Joe Kearney, Mike Lude, Ted Schmidt, Rick Gonzales and now Nemer Hassey, among others, has awarded college scholarships to 207 of Southern Arizona\u2019s leading scholar-athletes.

It\u2019s a who\u2019s-who list of the top names in Tucson football, from Sabino\u2019s Quinn Gooch and Ironwood Ridge\u2019s Daniel Borg to Canyon del Oro\u2019s Tevis brothers, Aaron and Jared.

On Sunday, Bryce Fontana was among the 10 scholar-athletes honored; it was an emotional night for both his father and Tomey. Four years earlier, Bryce\u2019s brother, Vaughn , was similarly honored. Vaughn left an indelible memory in that 2013 ceremony: A musician of note, he sang to several hundred people while on stage.

Bryce Fontana has a 4.17 GPA at Cienega. He\u2019s the vice president of the school\u2019s senior government organization. He studied ballroom dancing for two years and horsemanship for three more. He starred in two musicals at the Gaslight Theater, \u201cAladdin\u201d and \u201cBeauty and the Beast.\u201d

Life\u2019s not all about football, as Tomey has taught his players since his first day as a coach at Miami of Ohio in 1962. It\u2019s about the other stuff. Can you imagine a more fulfilling life as a high school ballplayer than that of Bryce Fontana?

\u201cIn my first year at Cienega, I was put in the lineup and I just got killed,\u201d he said Sunday night. \u201cI got pancaked. You name it. I came off the field and told my dad \u2018I don\u2019t know if I can keep doing this.\u2019\u201d

Ultimately, as Mark and Bryce talked about football, Bryce decided to get back on the field. As the Bobcats went 12-1 last fall, reaching the state semifinals, he made 36 tackles, forced two fumbles and had three quarterback sacks.

Cienega coach Pat Nugent said in 26 years of coaching he had never seen one of his players with leadership qualities to match Bryce\u2019s.

After getting to meet Bryce, and listening to his list of accomplishments and the endorsements from Cienega teachers, Tomey put it in context.

\u201cBryce,\u201d he said, \u201cwill be great at whatever he happens to pursue in life.\u201d

That\u2019s the way it has gone all 20 Southern Arizona chapter banquets. Every year you wonder how the 10 honorees can match the previous year\u2019s 10 scholar-athletes, and every year you nod your head in appreciation at the young men Southern Arizona schools produce.

At the beginning of Sunday\u2019s ceremony, Catalina Foothills lineman Cullen Drenkhahn, an Eagle scout who has a 3.9 GPA and has applied to the Air Force Academy, was asked by emcee Dana Cooper if he could recite the Boy Scout oath.

Cooper got it started with \u201ctrustworthy.\u201d

Drenkhahn correctly replied with \u201cloyal.\u201d

And then the two rotated, putting the 12-part oath in precise order.

\u201cHelpful,\u201d said Cooper.

\u201cFriendly.\u201d

Courteous.\u201d

\u201cKind.\u201d

\u201cObedient.\u201d

\u201cCheerful.\u201d

\u201cThrifty.\u201d

\u201cBrave.\u201d

\u201cClean.\u201d

\u201cReverent.\u201d

They only missed one: First class.

"}, {"id":"cb406eb0-1e14-11e7-8720-6fe3605c98e2","type":"article","starttime":"1491846660","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-10T10:51:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1493016619","priority":40,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona Wildcats to host FCS powerhouse North Dakota State in 2022","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_cb406eb0-1e14-11e7-8720-6fe3605c98e2.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-to-host-fcs-powerhouse-north-dakota-state-in/article_cb406eb0-1e14-11e7-8720-6fe3605c98e2.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-to-host-fcs-powerhouse-north-dakota-state-in/article_cb406eb0-1e14-11e7-8720-6fe3605c98e2.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":3,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Michael Lev\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"The Bison - who have won five of the past six FCS championships - are scheduled to visit Tucson on Sept. 17, 2022.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["arizona wildcats football","arizona wildcats football schedule","north dakota state"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"4cd6337a-13f2-5b26-97c4-26c680a52a1c","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"640","height":"360","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/cd/4cd6337a-13f2-5b26-97c4-26c680a52a1c/584afcab5c4b6.image.jpg?resize=640%2C360"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/cd/4cd6337a-13f2-5b26-97c4-26c680a52a1c/584afcab5c4b6.image.jpg?resize=100%2C56"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/cd/4cd6337a-13f2-5b26-97c4-26c680a52a1c/584afcab5c4b6.image.jpg?resize=300%2C169"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/cd/4cd6337a-13f2-5b26-97c4-26c680a52a1c/584afcab5c4b6.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"cb406eb0-1e14-11e7-8720-6fe3605c98e2","body":"

The Arizona Wildcats will face FCS powerhouse and noted giant killer North Dakota State in a non-conference football game in 2022.

The schools will square off for the first time on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Arizona Stadium, NDSU announced Monday.

The Bison are the most consistently successful program in FCS, having won five consecutive national championships before falling in the semifinals to eventual champ James Madison last season.

As the school noted in a news release, North Dakota State is 9-3 against FBS teams and has won six in a row, including last year\u2019s 23-21 victory over then-No. 13 Iowa.

The Arizona game is the second of three for NDSU against Pac-12 opponents. The Bison are scheduled to visit Oregon in 2020 and Colorado in 2024.

Here\u2019s a look at all known UA future opponents outside the Pac-12 Conference:

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Arizona football's latest commitment should have some familiarity with the UA campus.

Saturday, Amphitheater offensive lineman\u00a0David Watson\u00a0verbally committed to Arizona's 2018 recruiting class. Watson is the second member of Arizona's class for next year, joining Cienega quarterback\u00a0Jamarye Joiner.

Watson is the son of Arizona softball legend\u00a0Laura Espinoza-Watson, who holds the UA softball record for most single season home runs. Watson's father, also named David Watson,\u00a0played offensive line for the Wildcats in the mid-1990s.

Watson is rated a three-star recruit, according to Scout.com, and is ranked the No. 4 offensive tackle in the West. He's listed at 6-6, 300 pounds and comes at a position of need. After the upcoming 2017 season, the Wildcats are set to lose three possible senior starters in guard Jacob Alsadek\u00a0and\u00a0tackles\u00a0Gerhard de Beer and\u00a0Layth Friekh.\u00a0

Another #HomeGrown member of #ATeam18!!! GREAT WILDCAT GENES...remember when he walked in the office, a MONSTER & he was only 12! #BearDown

\u2014 Matt Dudek (@AZ_Matty_D) April 9, 2017
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Lee / Minnesota athletics","hireswidth":2336,"hiresheight":3504,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/a9/da9227df-d33a-5be3-8300-029a7ef3aff5/58e80dc6c094f.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"507","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/a9/da9227df-d33a-5be3-8300-029a7ef3aff5/58e80dc66abf9.image.jpg?resize=507%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"150","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/a9/da9227df-d33a-5be3-8300-029a7ef3aff5/58e80dc66abf9.image.jpg?resize=100%2C150"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"450","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/a9/da9227df-d33a-5be3-8300-029a7ef3aff5/58e80dc66abf9.image.jpg?resize=300%2C450"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1536","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/a9/da9227df-d33a-5be3-8300-029a7ef3aff5/58e80dc66abf9.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C1536"}}}],"revision":18,"commentID":"58512c22-678f-50a2-9a1c-50e78be1129d","body":"

The most important time for the Arizona Wildcats\u2019 still-developing quarterbacks isn\u2019t spring. It isn\u2019t fall.

It\u2019s what happens in between.

Coach Rich Rodriguez has mentioned it repeatedly: The quarterbacks need to step up their games in the summer, when the coaches, by NCAA rule, are not allowed to coach them.

Brandon Dawkins and Khalil Tate have heard the message loud and clear. They understand what\u2019s expected of them.

\u201cFor a quarterback, there really is no offseason,\u201d said Dawkins, who\u2019s entering his redshirt junior season as the favorite to start. \u201cMaybe you get a week or two. Two would be max. You\u2019re never really taking that much time off from throwing, working out, something.\u201d

The quarterbacks know they need to put in the work to improve a passing game that slumped badly last season. Arizona posted its fewest passing yards and touchdowns under Rodriguez. The offense, plagued by injuries at quarterback and tailback, often became one-dimensional.

The Wildcats spent 15 spring practices striving to upgrade the passing attack; it was the No. 1 item on their lengthy to-do list after a 3-9 season. But in Rodriguez\u2019s view, that was just the start.

\u201cYou can\u2019t play at an elite level, particularly at quarterback, if you\u2019re not fully committed throughout the summer to work, not only on the physical part, but the mental part,\u201d Rodriguez said. \u201cI think they have (been). But there\u2019s another level we\u2019ve got to get to, and they\u2019ve got to do it on their own without the coaches being there, without our direction.

\u201cI think they want it. I feel good about those guys understanding what they need to do this summer.\u201d

That might not have been the case in recent years.

After Arizona concluded spring practice on March 31, Rodriguez said: \u201cI don\u2019t think the last few summers they\u2019ve been as aggressive working on their skills and their game as they need to be.\u201d

Whether he was referring specifically to Dawkins, Tate (who enrolled at Arizona in January 2016) or the recently transferred Anu Solomon is not clear; what Rodriguez wants moving forward, though, is.

\u201cI know those guys love football, but they\u2019ve got to love the grind of getting ready in the summer on their own,\u201d Rodriguez said. \u201cI think they\u2019ll do that.\u201d

Every player at every position is expected to put in work during the offseason. Some of it is required, NCAA-approved weightlifting and conditioning. The other portion consists of voluntary, player-run practices, or PRPs. But if you want to get better \u2014 and get in the coaches\u2019 good graces \u2014 you\u2019d better show up.

\u201cIt\u2019s optional,\u201d junior receiver Shun Brown said, \u201cbut it\u2019s mandatory at the same time.\u201d

And it\u2019s different for quarterbacks.

\u201cIt\u2019s expected,\u201d quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said. \u201cWhen football time\u2019s up, football time\u2019s not up for them.\u201d

Quarterbacks are tasked with organizing the PRPs, which usually run one hour per session four or five days per week. The invites to the other skill-position players \u2014 and/or defenders for 7-on-7 sessions \u2014 go out via group text. The PRPs \u2014 which coaches are not allowed to attend or even watch from afar \u2014 are wedged into players\u2019 surprisingly busy summer schedules, which also include classes and the aforementioned conditioning workouts.

Now that he\u2019s an upperclassman, Dawkins believes he has a better understanding of his role in leading those passing sessions. The quarterback essentially has to serve as the head coach and offensive coordinator. The actual coaches might provide guidelines, but it\u2019s mostly up to Dawkins to determine what \u2014 and who \u2014 needs the most work.

\u201cWhat don\u2019t you guys understand?\u201d Dawkins will ask his teammates. \u201cWhat routes do you have trouble with? What routes are you still trying to work on?\u201d

The PRPs serve a dual purpose. For veterans, it\u2019s another opportunity to sharpen their skills. For young players and newcomers, it\u2019s a chance to get up to speed \u2014 not only with the playbook, but with the work ethic that\u2019s required to be competitive in Division I football.

Tate didn\u2019t fully grasp the significance of summer workouts as a 17-year-old freshman last year.

\u201cI didn\u2019t realize it,\u201d he said. \u201cThey\u2019re very important. You have to get out there and perform hard at all times.\u201d

Brown remembered arriving in Tucson from Shreveport, Louisiana, in the summer of 2015. He had little idea what any of the play calls meant. Veteran Nate Phillips helped him \u2014 to a point.

\u201cAfter the fourth time asking him, he was like, \u2018Nah, bro, you\u2019ve gotta start learning by yourself,\u2019\u201d Brown said. \u201cWhen he stopped helping me, that\u2019s when I actually started learning.\u201d

Now Brown is a vet, and new receivers such as Brian Casteel and Drew Dixon will learn from him.

Arizona also will welcome two new quarterbacks when summer classes begin: K\u2019Hari Lane from Montezuma, Georgia, and Rhett Rodriguez, the coach\u2019s son, from Catalina Foothills High School.

Rhett regularly observed Arizona\u2019s spring practices while in high school and accompanied his father to the coaches\u2019 offices afterward. Although in need of physical development, Rhett already possesses the mindset his dad believes all successful quarterbacks must have.

\u201cThat position, if you\u2019re not a gym rat, I don\u2019t think you can ever be as good as you need to be,\u201d said Rich Rodriguez, who placed several of his past quarterbacks \u2014 including Pat White, Denard Robinson, Matt Scott and B.J. Denker \u2014 in that category. \u201cThe best quarterbacks at all levels are the ones that are truly obsessed with the game and everything about the game. That\u2019s where we\u2019ve got to get (the current) guys to.\u201d

When training camp opens in August, Rodriguez and Smith said they\u2019ll be able to tell immediately whether the quarterbacks and their teammates put in the work.

If the passes are crisp and the routes are sharp, the coaches will know what the Wildcats did last summer.

"}, {"id":"44bf4932-1bbd-11e7-9257-3bec35b6feae","type":"article","starttime":"1491589380","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-07T11:23:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1492189345","priority":40,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona Wildcats hosting Minnesota transfer D-lineman Gaelin Elmore","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_44bf4932-1bbd-11e7-9257-3bec35b6feae.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-hosting-minnesota-transfer-d-lineman-gaelin-elmore/article_44bf4932-1bbd-11e7-9257-3bec35b6feae.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-hosting-minnesota-transfer-d-lineman-gaelin-elmore/article_44bf4932-1bbd-11e7-9257-3bec35b6feae.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":6,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Zack Rosenblatt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Arizona is in pursuit of another transfer defensive lineman.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"a77ccb8a-1bd6-11e7-a5d1-6b9c8aa9ea3c","description":"Gaelin Elmore","byline":"Jerry E. Lee / Minnesota athletics","hireswidth":2336,"hiresheight":3504,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/77/a77ccb8a-1bd6-11e7-a5d1-6b9c8aa9ea3c/58e800681f46a.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"640","height":"627","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/77/a77ccb8a-1bd6-11e7-a5d1-6b9c8aa9ea3c/58e800681bcaf.image.jpg?crop=640%2C627%2C265%2C233&resize=640%2C627&order=crop%2Cresize"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"98","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/77/a77ccb8a-1bd6-11e7-a5d1-6b9c8aa9ea3c/58e800681bcaf.image.jpg?crop=640%2C627%2C265%2C233&resize=100%2C98&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"294","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/77/a77ccb8a-1bd6-11e7-a5d1-6b9c8aa9ea3c/58e800681bcaf.image.jpg?crop=640%2C627%2C265%2C233&resize=300%2C294&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1003","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/77/a77ccb8a-1bd6-11e7-a5d1-6b9c8aa9ea3c/58e800681bcaf.image.jpg?crop=640%2C627%2C265%2C233"}}}],"revision":13,"commentID":"44bf4932-1bbd-11e7-9257-3bec35b6feae","body":"

Arizona has already added one transfer to its defensive line for 2017.

Now the Wildcats are trying to add another.

Minnesota defensive\u00a0Gaelin Elmore\u00a0is taking an official visit to Arizona's campus this weekend after receiving a scholarship offer from the Wildcats on Thursday.\u00a0

Elmore was originally supposed to be visiting South Carolina this weekend, and also holds offers from numerous other schools, including Oklahoma and West Virginia.\u00a0

Arizona needs to add size to its defensive line, which it did when USC transfer\u00a0Noah Jefferson\u00a0committed to the Wildcats, though he won't be eligible to play until 2018. Jefferson, an interior lineman, is listed at 6-6, 315 pounds.

Elmore will bring more size to the outside on Arizona's defensive line, as the defensive end is listed at 6-6, 275 pounds. In three years with the Gophers, Elmore amassed four sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss.

As a graduate transfer, Elmore would be eligible to play immediately.

Touchdown in Tucson \u2708\ufe0f\ud83e\udd19\ud83c\udffe

\u2014 Gaelin Elmore (@GIVE_87) April 7, 2017
"}, {"id":"f4af5ca0-1ae2-11e7-bff3-339f8f448936","type":"article","starttime":"1491495060","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-06T09:11:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1492557573","priority":43,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona Wildcats to face UTEP Miners under Friday-night lights on ESPN","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_f4af5ca0-1ae2-11e7-bff3-339f8f448936.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-to-face-utep-miners-under-friday-night-lights/article_f4af5ca0-1ae2-11e7-bff3-339f8f448936.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-to-face-utep-miners-under-friday-night-lights/article_f4af5ca0-1ae2-11e7-bff3-339f8f448936.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":2,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Michael Lev\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Arizona's game at UTEP has been shifted to a Friday, giving the Wildcats three consecutive Saturdays off from Sept. 16-30.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["arizona wildcats football","arizona wildcats football schedule","utep"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#editorspick","#top5sports"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"5fb205cf-ffa9-5040-b6f6-e86aceb93e9b","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"640","height":"360","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/fb/5fb205cf-ffa9-5040-b6f6-e86aceb93e9b/584afcab87d82.image.jpg?resize=640%2C360"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/fb/5fb205cf-ffa9-5040-b6f6-e86aceb93e9b/584afcab87d82.image.jpg?resize=100%2C56"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/fb/5fb205cf-ffa9-5040-b6f6-e86aceb93e9b/584afcab87d82.image.jpg?resize=300%2C169"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/fb/5fb205cf-ffa9-5040-b6f6-e86aceb93e9b/584afcab87d82.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":10,"commentID":"f4af5ca0-1ae2-11e7-bff3-339f8f448936","body":"

The Arizona Wildcats\u2019 Week 3 football game at UTEP has been moved to Friday, Sept. 15, Conference USA announced Thursday.

The game will begin at 8:15 p.m. Mountain Time, 7:15 in Arizona. It will be televised by ESPN.

Arizona will have one fewer day to prep for the UTEP game but will have a normal week to get ready for the Pac-12 opener against Utah, also on a Friday. With a bye the following week, the Wildcats will be off on three consecutive Saturdays.

Further schedule details will be announced in the coming weeks and months. Here\u2019s what we know so far:

2017 ARIZONA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

"}, {"id":"0e38cb48-1a39-11e7-8145-af913ac11993","type":"article","starttime":"1491422400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-05T13:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1492557573","priority":40,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona assistant coach Scott Boone breaks down Wildcats' linebackers","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_0e38cb48-1a39-11e7-8145-af913ac11993.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-assistant-coach-scott-boone-breaks-down-wildcats-linebackers/article_0e38cb48-1a39-11e7-8145-af913ac11993.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-assistant-coach-scott-boone-breaks-down-wildcats-linebackers/article_0e38cb48-1a39-11e7-8145-af913ac11993.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":4,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Michael Lev\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"The first-year LB gives his thoughts on Colacion, Fields, Robertson and Rutt.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["arizona wildcats football","scott boone","jacob colacion","tony fields ii","gavin robertson","brandon rutt"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"a270f0c2-5c45-11e6-8ea6-2b52c1e0f0a1","description":"Redshirt freshman Gavin Robertson is making the move from safety to linebacker, a position Arizona is rebuilding on the fly.","byline":"Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":1900,"hiresheight":1177,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/27/a270f0c2-5c45-11e6-8ea6-2b52c1e0f0a1/57a69b22e3f4f.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1170","height":"725","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/27/a270f0c2-5c45-11e6-8ea6-2b52c1e0f0a1/57a69b22e242d.image.jpg?resize=1170%2C725"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"62","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/27/a270f0c2-5c45-11e6-8ea6-2b52c1e0f0a1/57a69b22e242d.image.jpg?resize=100%2C62"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"186","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/27/a270f0c2-5c45-11e6-8ea6-2b52c1e0f0a1/57a69b22e242d.image.jpg?resize=300%2C186"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"634","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/27/a270f0c2-5c45-11e6-8ea6-2b52c1e0f0a1/57a69b22e242d.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C634"}}}],"revision":9,"commentID":"0e38cb48-1a39-11e7-8145-af913ac11993","body":"

The long but important offseason has begun for the Arizona Wildcats, who concluded spring practice last week.

(To put Arizona\u2019s schedule in perspective, UCLA started spring practice Tuesday.)

In lieu of regular media availability, we\u2019ll do our best in this space to provide you with Arizona-football-related updates over the next several months. They will include Q&As, recruiting commitments, schedule news and whatever else we can think of.

I have plenty of leftover material from spring interviews to sift through, and I will post all relevant information.

To start with, here are first-year linebackers coach Scott Boone\u2019s takes on the four players he spent the bulk of his time working with this spring: Jacob Colacion, Tony Fields II, Gavin Robertson and Brandon Rutt.

On Fields: \u201cTony\u2019s going to be a good player. Tony doesn\u2019t know what he doesn\u2019t know right now, and that\u2019s good. He just goes and plays. He\u2019s not always right exactly scheme-wise, but he\u2019s going to be playing a hundred miles an hour. You can make up for a mistake if you play with great effort.\u201d

On Colacion: \u201cJake\u2019s been a pleasant surprise. I recruited Jake out of high school. (Boone was the defensive coordinator at Nevada; Colacion attended La Habra [Calif.] High.) He\u2019s a really good player. He had a knee injury in high school that kind of slowed him down last year. I know he played the whole fall with a big knee brace on. So there wasn\u2019t much evaluation done on him. Now he\u2019s moving full speed. I think he\u2019s showed that he belongs in the Pac-12.\u201d

On Robertson: \u201cHe\u2019s showing more every day. It\u2019s just letting his ability start to take hold. He\u2019s gifted athletically. He\u2019s tough and physical. But sometimes he\u2019s paralysis by analysis. He\u2019s overthinking things. So he\u2019s not just turning it loose, because it\u2019s all new to him. (Robertson moved from safety to linebacker in the spring.) We\u2019re trying to move him along in film study and individual time so that when he gets on the field he can just play.\u201d

On Rutt: \u201cHe is the old man. He knows the defense. He\u2019s been in it. This is his second year. He does a good job of getting guys lined up. He just brings a leadership in terms of communication. Situational awareness is real important, and he\u2019s got to make sure he keeps the young guys around him tuned in. If they\u2019re not exactly right, he\u2019s got to get them right.\u201d

"}, {"id":"d501af1b-ed52-5b40-8936-9ff73afb8924","type":"article","starttime":"1491262200","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-03T16:30:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1492189345","priority":45,"sections":[{"football":"sports/arizonawildcats/football"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Three lingering issues as Arizona Wildcats finish spring, enter offseason","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/article_d501af1b-ed52-5b40-8936-9ff73afb8924.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/three-lingering-issues-as-arizona-wildcats-finish-spring-enter-offseason/article_d501af1b-ed52-5b40-8936-9ff73afb8924.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/three-lingering-issues-as-arizona-wildcats-finish-spring-enter-offseason/article_d501af1b-ed52-5b40-8936-9ff73afb8924.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Michael Lev\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"The quarterback situation, youth at linebacker and uncertainty on special teams are among the team\u2019s biggest unanswered questions.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#top5sports","#editorspick","#latest"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"75421","label":"football"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"ef7ac83d-8230-5bc7-a8d8-2a8e62a2f1bc","description":"UA quarterback Brandon Dawkins, left, started nine games last year. He\u2019s battling with Khalil Tate for the job this year in a competition that is nowhere near settled.","byline":"Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":2009,"hiresheight":1031,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/f7/ef7ac83d-8230-5bc7-a8d8-2a8e62a2f1bc/58e2d9586dc73.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1170","height":"600","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/f7/ef7ac83d-8230-5bc7-a8d8-2a8e62a2f1bc/58e2d9586bfee.image.jpg?resize=1170%2C600"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/f7/ef7ac83d-8230-5bc7-a8d8-2a8e62a2f1bc/58e2d9586bfee.image.jpg?crop=1832%2C1031%2C88%2C0&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/f7/ef7ac83d-8230-5bc7-a8d8-2a8e62a2f1bc/58e2d9586bfee.image.jpg?crop=1832%2C1031%2C88%2C0&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/f7/ef7ac83d-8230-5bc7-a8d8-2a8e62a2f1bc/58e2d9586bfee.image.jpg?crop=1832%2C1031%2C88%2C0&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":12,"commentID":"d501af1b-ed52-5b40-8936-9ff73afb8924","body":"

Fifteen spring practices are not enough to solve all of the Arizona Wildcats\u2019 problems.

When you\u2019re coming off a 3-9 season \u2014 and planning to integrate a host of newcomers \u2014 progress comes gradually. There are no quick fixes in this business.

\u201cWe\u2019ve just got so many unknown guys that I think have the talent and are going to be good enough to win with, but until they do it in a game, you don\u2019t really know,\u201d UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. \u201cI feel good about their attitude. I think we\u2019ve got a bunch of guys who love football. There\u2019s no question we\u2019ll be better.\u201d

Arizona has only one way to go, and that\u2019s up. But a look at Arizona\u2019s roster reveals a plethora of unanswered questions. With spring practice having ended last week, we examine three lingering issues \u2013 one on offense, one on defense and one on special teams.

1. The quarterback situation

It has to start here, for two reasons: (1) The identity of the starter is unclear coming out of spring; and (2) it\u2019s the one position where a big leap in production could change the fortunes for the entire team.

With a week left in spring ball, the job appeared to be Brandon Dawkins\u2019 to lose. He entered spring practice with a leg up, having started nine games last season. He also has been on campus learning the system since 2014.

But then challenger Khalil Tate had a monster scrimmage Friday night. Unofficially, Tate completed 16 of 19 passes for 245 yards. He looked confident and in control \u2014 far different from the freshman who struggled in his lone start against USC last season.

Of course, it\u2019d be irresponsible to put too much stock in a scrimmage in which Dawkins and Tate were immune from tackling \u2014 and in which Tate had the superior supporting cast. Afterward, Rodriguez was relatively reserved in his praise for Tate, suggesting that the scrimmage had been his best practice of spring. He is far from a finished product.

In some ways, the quarterback dynamic is similar to last year\u2019s. Anu Solomon was the known commodity, and Dawkins was the promising youngster. Rodriguez eventually picked Solomon \u2014 without any sort of official announcement before the season opener against BYU. Solomon ended up getting hurt four days later and missed most of the season. He since has transferred to Baylor.

Now Dawkins is the incumbent, and the perception has changed. Like Solomon, Dawkins now is viewed as the lower-ceiling, higher-floor option, at least in comparison with Tate. We know what Dawkins can do as a runner. Can he take the next step forward as a passer?

If he believes his job is on the line, Rodriguez might make the safer choice \u2014 i.e., Dawkins. No matter which way he goes, Rodriguez needs to bring clarity to the situation at some point. The lack thereof was among the many factors that contributed to Arizona\u2019s demise last season.

2. Defensive improvement

There\u2019s no disputing that all the defensive changes the Wildcats made last season \u2014 new staff, new scheme \u2014 did not have the intended effect. Arizona did not improve in any easily measurable way.

The expectation is that the defense will be better in Year 2 under Marcel Yates thanks to greater familiarity with his system.

\u201cWe all have an idea of what to do and what to expect,\u201d senior defensive lineman Parker Zellers said. \u201cGoing into our second year with the new defense, I hope and I think things will start to click more and go a lot more smoothly.\u201d

They should. But there\u2019s a significant factor working against that cause: a dearth of experience at linebacker.

No matter how you arrange the depth chart at the \u201cMike\u201d and \u201cWill\u201d positions, the only player with any notable experience is redshirt junior Brandon Rutt \u2014 who has one career start. If UA rotates four players at those spots, three of them will be freshmen or redshirt freshmen.

The good news is some already have shown promise. Redshirt freshman Jacob Colacion had an encouraging camp, and multiple veterans praised true freshman Tony Fields II.

At least four more linebackers are set to join the team in summer, with the expectation that at least two will compete for immediate playing time.

\u201cWhen the new guys get here, we\u2019ll see where they fit in,\u201d first-year linebackers coach Scott Boone said. \u201cIf anybody comes in and is in a position where Tony is \u2026 they\u2019ll have a chance to step in and help us.\u201d

How quickly the linebackers develop could determine how much better the defense performs in 2017.

3. Sorting out
special teams

The \u201916 Wildcats struggled in multiple areas and didn\u2019t get the boost from special teams that they sorely needed. Arizona played with a field-position deficit in almost every game, and its longest kick return was 33 yards.

Special-teams coach Charlie Ragle left in the offseason for a similar post at Cal. Rodriguez hired Brian Knorr, a former Division I head coach and defensive coordinator, to bring a fresh perspective to those units.

Rodriguez expects the wave of newcomers to significantly alter the composition of the return and coverage teams. Arizona also is enhancing the competition at kicker.

The \u201917 signing class includes Lucas Havrisik of Norco, California. His impending arrival will give the Wildcats two scholarship kickers: Havrisik and redshirt junior Josh Pollack.

Pollack served as Arizona\u2019s placekicker all of last season and its punter for most of it. The coaching staff abandoned that setup late in the year, and the plan moving forward is to have Pollack concentrate on placekicking.

He performed adequately in that role in his first year on the job but has ample room for improvement. Pollack made all eight of his field-goal attempts inside 40 yards but only 1 of 6 from 40 and beyond.

He views the addition of Havrisik as a positive development.

\u201cCompetition\u2019s always great for making yourself better,\u201d Pollack said. \u201cYou\u2019ve gotta stay on your feet. You don\u2019t ever get too comfortable.\u201d

The same applies to the Wildcats as a whole: They might have had a promising spring, but it doesn\u2019t mean anything without a follow-up in the fall.

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BOSTON \u2014 Tom Brady's Super Bowl jersey was stolen again \u2014 this time by Rob Gronkowski in full view of 37,000 screaming Red Sox fans.

The New England Patriots quarterback was waving the jersey around during the pregame ceremony on opening day at Fenway Park on Monday. Gronkowski, the former Arizona Wildcats star, ripped it out of his hands and ran around the infield before Brady chased him down and playfully tackled him in right field.

The Patriots said it was the same jersey that had been stolen out of the Patriots' locker room after their championship victory over the Atlanta Falcons in February. Brady got the jersey back at owner Robert Kraft's home in suburban Brookline earlier Monday.

The Patriots brought all five Super Bowl trophies out for the first pitch ceremony before the Red Sox hosted Pittsburgh. Joining Brady, Gronk and Kraft were James White, who scored the winning touchdown in overtime, and fellow running back Dion Lewis.a

Brady threw out the first pitch to Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia.

The Patriots tweeted a short video showing Kraft presenting his star with two No. 12 Super Bowl jerseys that had been missing. Kraft quipped that they \"took an international trip.\"

Brady's jersey from the win two months ago was found by Mexican authorities while while searching the property of Mexican media executive Martin Mauricio Ortega. They also recovered a Brady jersey that had disappeared after the 2015 Super Bowl.

Ortega hasn't been charged. Houston police and the FBI assisted in the investigation, and Kraft thanked them anew.

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The Arizona Wildcats concluded spring practice with a spirited scrimmage Friday night at Arizona Stadium. Here are my top six takeaways (plus some recruiting visitors at bottom):

1. Tate time

By far the biggest storyline was quarterback Khalil Tate\u2019s performance. According to my unofficial stats \u2013 I kept a play-by-play because, well, of course I did \u2013 Tate completed 16 of 19 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown. It was a significant step forward for the sophomore in his quest to overtake incumbent Brandon Dawkins. Tate has a cannon for an arm, and he throws a nice deep ball. He still has work to do on touch passes in the intermediate range. And, of course, he\u2019s still green when it comes to knowing the playbook and reading defenses. But he can build off this performance and make the QB competition a real battle come August.

2. Context required

Dawkins did not perform as well. I had him completing 12 of 24 passes for 75 yards. But this has to be viewed in the proper context. Tate had No. 1 receiver Shun Brown on his squad; they hooked up for a 65-yard touchdown on the White team\u2019s fourth play from scrimmage. Cam Denson, the presumed No. 2 receiver, did not participate because of a foot injury. Dawkins had J.J. Taylor on Team Blue, but he was used sparingly. By my count, receivers dropped five of Dawkins\u2019 passes. He spent much of the night throwing to walk-ons. Additionally, the White team had a better offensive line, including as many as four possible starters: Michael Eletise, Nathan Eldridge, Jacob Alsadek and Cody Creason.

3. Walker sighting

Speaking of the offensive line, we finally got to see redshirt freshman Keenan Walker in action in the second half. He played left tackle for the Blue team. But late in the fourth quarter he got hurt and limped off the field. Walker always has some sort of wrap on his left knee, and he also had an ice pack on his left ankle as he left the locker room. The recruiting gurus tell me he\u2019s a big-time talent. It could be a while before we see it. The Wildcats have enough at tackle this year with Layth Friekh, Creason, Gerhard de Beer and Bryson Cain (whom the coaches really like). I\u2019d put Walker in the developmental category for now, with an eye on 2018.

4. Zealous Zellers

It was good to see Parker Zellers participate in the scrimmage. The senior defensive lineman missed time earlier in spring camp because of a shoulder injury suffered in the season finale against Arizona State. He contemplated sitting out all of spring \u2013 not an uncommon move for fifth-year seniors \u2013 but got restless watching and working on the side. \u201cAt first I was like, \u2018I\u2019d rather be playing 10 games than 10 practices in the spring.\u2019 But it\u2019s still a chance to get better,\" Zellers said. \"One day I got tired of sitting back and watching. I was like, \u2018Screw it.\u2019 I started taking some reps. It felt good. I just started going full speed.\u201d Zellers is undersized but scrappy and provides invaluable leadership for the defense. He broke up a third-down pass by Dawkins late in the first half, forcing Team Blue to punt.

5. McCall waiting

Another encouraging sign for the defense: Senior safety Jarvis McCall Jr. performed well. McCall began last season as a starter before losing his job and dropping off the radar. He showed Friday night that he\u2019s still around, breaking up a fourth-down pass from Dawkins intended for Shawn Poindexter and laying out tailback Quincy Wimbish with the biggest hit of the night. (Only Tate and Dawkins were immune from tackling \u2013 a smart move by Rich Rodriguez, who knew the intensity wouldn\u2019t be what he wanted without real tackling.) Isaiah Hayes remains the favorite to start at free safety, but he\u2019s just a sophomore who has yet to prove he can last a full season. Depth is paramount. As Rodriguez has acknowledged, the Wildcats need to play more guys on defense.

6. This time it\u2019s personnel

A few more random notes \u2026 Tailback Nick Wilson looked rusty. He nearly lost one fumble and did lose another near the goal line. I commented at the time that he probably isn\u2019t used to being hit, and Rodriguez corroborated that afterward. Wilson will be fine \u2013 if he can stay healthy. \u2026 Freshman tailback Nathan Tilford continued to impress. For a big man, he has a lot of subtle moves and a good feel for the game. \u2026 As mentioned, Taylor didn\u2019t get of ton of touches. It was disappointing for those in attendance, because Taylor is so fun to watch, but a sensible decision in the big picture. \u2026 Matt Aragon at wide receiver could be a thing. The punter from Cienega High is 6-5, 211. I had him with two catches for 55 yards (although on one play he was uncovered). \u2026 While Tony Fields II has gotten a lot of love from teammates, I\u2019d keep an eye on fellow freshman Jose Ramirez as well. Arizona has been using him at Stud, and he appears to have the frame to hold his own in the box.


Finally, here are some of the recruits who attended the scrimmage on unofficial visits (partial list, in alphabetical order):

(*-has verbally committed to Arizona)

"} ]