Some notes and quotes from tonight’s practice:
• Former UA running back Kylan Butler has been added to the staff as an offensive graduate assistant. He takes the place of Sean Patterson, the older brother of former quarterback commit Shea Patterson, who left to take a job at LSU a week before fall camp began.
Despite never seeing much game action, Butler was one of coach Rich Rodriguez’s favorite seniors last year. Butler, who had five carries for 17 yards and a touchdown last season, was planning on serving as an assistant at Pueblo High School this fall, after helping out in the spring.
But once Patterson left, and the UA had to fill the vacant spot, Butler returned to his Alma matter.
“He’s just a hard worker, and he loves football,” Rodriguez said of Butler. “Those are his best qualities. This is a pretty good start to his coaching career. Most of (the GAs) are (former players of Rodriguez’s). You don’t have to be a former player to be a GA here, but at least they know the system.”
Butler, a native of Antioch, Calif., will work primarily with the receivers.
• Johnny Jackson, who had 12 catches for 124 yards last season as a receiver, has moved to cornerback.
As of now, the move is more of an experiment than a permanent change.
“Johnny wanted to play,” Rodriguez said. “He knew we were short at corner. He wanted to move, and I thought we had a need for it. We’ll experiment with that for a week and see what happens. He probably played in high school, but I didn’t even ask. He’s a competitive guy and a tough guy, so that’s a good start.”
The junior from San Diego, who returned kicks and punts last year, is still getting some work at those spots this camp.
• About a week into camp, the UA is about where Rodriguez thought his team would be: “If you had asked me how we’d be, this is about where I’d thought, which is not pleasing in some respects. But I think we’re better than we were four days ago. Hell, we should be, we’ve had seven practices.”
The UA will practice twice Saturday and then take Sunday off. It will be the team’s first off-day of camp.
“The two-a-days are the toughest part,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not like the old days where you had two-a-days, or three-a-days and they were all in pads. You can’t do that now. Now it’s an hour practice in shorts and an hour and 15 minutes in pads. It’s not the grind that it used to be, but at the same time, I don’t think it has to be.”
• Nothing extremely new at the quarterback position. Solomon is still getting most of the first-team reps when practice is open to reporters to watch.
After a slow start because of an illness, Jesse Scroggins has come on in recent days and had strong back-to-back practices.
Tomorrow should be a good test for the quarterbacks. After a normal practice in the morning, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some scrimmage situations tomorrow night during the team’s practice at Arizona Stadium.
Reporters are allowed to watch the entire practice tomorrow night, so I’ll pass on some impressions post-practice.
• There are so many options to choose from at wide receiver, junior David Richards is often overlooked when talking about the group as a whole.
But the Palmdale, Calif., native is fully healthy after battling two separate injuries last season and has had a strong start to camp after a good summer in the weight room.
Rodriguez has taken notice: “He’s had a good summer; he’s had a good camp. He’s a veteran, and he’s been pretty solid all the time. He’s not had a full year where he’s healthy yet. Hopefully he can stay healthy, because he’s a big, physical guy, and he’s a got a good idea of our concepts.
“I’m looking for him to have a big year.”
• Walk-on tight end Aaron Lacombe has left the team. The Westlake Village, Calif., native redshirted last year as a wide receiver and moved to tight end in the spring. He was a possible contributor on special teams.
• Running backs coach Calvin Magee chatted for a bit after practice today.
Some thoughts from him:
On the first week: “It’s like it always is; I wish we could get better, quicker. But I love the way the guys are working. They focus and they concentrate, and they try to improve every day and that’s all you can ask for.”
On the strong start of the freshmen running backs “That’s been very exciting to watch. They kinda are what we thought they were coming in, so to get them out here and get them flying around is good. They’re learning pretty quick and making some plays so it’s exciting to see.”
On Nick Wilson: "He’s just complete. He’s big-eyed right now. He’s trying to learn and really absorb everything. But he’s a strong runner with some good quickness and some decent speed. But he’s a puppy and has a lot to learn. He and (Jonathan) Haden are both doing extremely well.”