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Arizona football: Lucky bounce: Local punter Drew Riggleman gets shot to start

2013-04-10T00:00:00Z 2013-04-10T08:17:02Z Arizona football: Lucky bounce: Local punter Drew Riggleman gets shot to startDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Drew Riggleman grew up at Arizona Stadium.

His grandpa had season tickets to UA games, and Riggleman used to tag along every chance he got. Sitting near the 40-yard line, about 50 or 60 rows up, Riggleman used to think how neat it would be if he was one day a Wildcat.

The idea was cool, but Riggleman - who played mostly soccer as a kid - said it didn't seem all that realistic.

Until he discovered kicking and punting.

Riggleman was an Arizona Daily Star All-Southern Arizona first-team pick in 2010 at punter for Sahuaro High School and wanted to walk on with the Wildcats.

It was either be a normal student at a random university or chase his dream at Arizona.

It was a no-brainer.

Now the punter is in a situation that not even he could fathom. The sophomore-to-be is the only punter on the Wildcats' roster this spring.

"Coming here has been like a dream come true," Riggleman said. "It's what I've always wanted to do.

"It's just another opportunity to prove myself and prove what I can do to the coaches."

Here's a closer look at the punter's journey to Arizona, and what's in store for his future.

Learning the ropes

Riggleman played for coach Scott McKee at Sahuaro. There, he had a simple goal: Improve a little bit every year.

By Riggleman's senior year, he was one of the better punters in Southern Arizona. He clearly had a strong leg and some skill and just needed reps to continue getting better.

If Riggleman had an Achilles' heal, it was his self-described inconsistency.

"I wasn't always collected and would rush punts sometimes and get different results," Riggleman said.

The natural-born soccer player kept playing his first love in high school, scoring eight goals in nine games his senior year.

But when his Sahuaro career ended, he knew he had a brighter future on the football field than the pitch.

Walking on

Riggleman joined the UA football program in 2011 and like all newcomers had to adjust to the college game.

"It was a big change from high school," Riggleman said. "The atmosphere was way different, the work ethic by the players, the talent around you. At first, it seems overwhelming. You grow, and now it's like you need the environment.

"If I went back to my high school environment, I don't think I could stand it. All the energy out here makes everyone better every day."

He still hears from McKee over text messages, reminding him to work hard and keep improving, something he takes to heart.

Riggleman served as a backup to punter Kyle Dugandzic last year after redshirting the 2011 season. This fall, Riggleman will likely compete for the starting role.

What's next

The punting job is far from Riggleman's.

High school senior Bret Miller from San Clemente, Calif., will join the team in the summer and will provide competition. An invited walk-on punter or two also may join the team.

"We have a couple of guys coming in, so we haven't done a whole lot this spring," special teams coach Charlie Ragle said. "When Drew wants to kick, he can kick. The competition there is an ongoing process that we'll fine-tune as we get into the fall."

All the lifelong Wildcats fan wanted was a chance, and he has it.

"I never really envisioned me being the only punter on the roster at a time," Riggleman said, "but I did envision myself coming out and working hard and hopefully earning that starting spot."

Spring game

• When: 1 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Kindall/Sancet Stadium

• Admission: Free • TV: Pac-12 Arizona

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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