Who will be the most valuable Arizona Wildcats football players of 2017?
That’s what we’re aiming to find out over the next few weeks.
It’s a completely subjective exercise, of course, and it’s important to note that everyone on the roster – from the starting quarterback to the scout-team walk-ons – has value. But it’s informative to project who the most valuable players will be, and that’s what we’ll attempt to do in this series.
Before we begin the countdown, some disclaimers:
“Most valuable” does not necessarily mean “best.” Rather, we’re defining it as the contributions and traits that most influence winning football. They include talent, leadership and projected role and production.
Newcomers were not eligible for the list. Although many might become major contributors this year, especially on defense, their roles are just too difficult to predict in June.
NO. 17: TE TREVOR WOOD
Ht/Wt/Yr: 6-6, 265, redshirt junior
Comment: Tight ends play a lot in Rich Rodriguez’s offense. They just haven’t caught a lot of passes.
Wood led the way last season with seven catches for 49 yards. Hardly the stuff of MVP lists.
But change might be afoot this season – and yes, I know what you’re thinking: We’ve heard this story before, and it never has come true. Why will this year be any different?
Well, a couple of reasons. One is that Rodriguez specifically mentioned in spring that the tight ends are being trained to stay on the field more. They’re lining up in new and different places so that Arizona doesn’t have to sub as much when it goes to its “four-wide” package.
The other main factor is that Calvin Magee – Rodriguez’s most trusted confidante – is now coaching tight ends in addition to running backs. If anyone has Rodriguez’s ear, it’s Magee. If Magee were to push for more passes to the tight ends, it’s likely Rodriguez would listen at the very least.
We saw glimpses of it during the first open spring scrimmage: multiple passes to the tight ends, resulting in multiple touchdowns.
Of course, scrimmages – especially in spring – aren’t necessarily harbingers. More often, they’re fool’s gold.
But the Wildcats really seemed to make a concerted effort to involve the tight ends that night. And Wood is an inviting target at 6-foot-6. It would be a waste to not utilize him more, especially in the red zone.
Wood was inconsistent as a blocker last season but has the frame and athleticism to become an asset in that area. That also would enhance his value.
How many catches/touchdowns would Wood need to justify his spot in this ranking? Would 20 and four be enough?
Those seem like reasonable objectives. Now it’s up to Wood, the coaches and the quarterbacks to make it happen.