Arizona football: Salpointe grad hopes to start

Jacob Arzouman, left, facing off with Beau Boyster in spring drills, moved to center after rehabbing his knee.


Jacob Arzouman has yet to play his first college football game, but he remembers every detail of his welcome-to-the-big-time moment.

"It was the first time I ran out of the tunnel as a freshman at Arizona Stadium," Arzouman said. "The fireworks are going off, there's 60,000 people there. I remember thinking, 'Wow, this is really happening.'"

The 6-foot-5-inch, 271-pound offensive lineman is hoping the next time he runs out of the Arizona Stadium tunnel, it's as a starter - or at least as a guy in the mix.

The Salpointe Catholic High grad was on his way to starting last summer when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a one-on-one pass-rushing drill.

The injury forced him to miss the entire season. Though Arzouman estimates he's 80 to 85 percent healthy during spring drills, he still hasn't been cleared for full contact. He has a new position - center - and should get a chance to compete for serious playing time once he's deemed fully healthy.

Here's a look at the 19-year-old's journey:

• Making a good impression. Arzouman has wowed UA coach Rich Rodriguez.

"He's a tough guy and he's smart," Rodriguez said. "We like to have eight (linemen) that can play up front, and he was going to be one of the eight last year."

In addition to his toughness and smarts, Arzouman impressed coaches with his athleticism and footwork off the line.

• Down and out. As soon as he hurt his knee in practice, he knew it was serious.

"It was disappointing," Arzouman said. "It took about 10 or 15 minutes to get it through my head. The trainers knew right away it was an ACL. There was nothing I could do."

But the injury forced Arzouman to spend more time in the weight room during his rehab because he couldn't be on the practice field. As a result, he trimmed a lot of fat and replaced it with muscle. It primed him for a move into the interior of the line.

• Getting healthy. The adjustment from tackle to center has been a good one. Arzouman said he's less worried about his knee and more concerned with proving to coaches he can be the starting center.

Offensive line coach Jim Michalczik said he was impressed with Arzouman's quick return. All this leads to a pretty good chance that the next time he runs out of the Arizona Stadium tunnel, it'll be showtime.

"Hopefully this time," Arzouman said, "I can actually play."

Extra points

• Former UA star Tedy Bruschi has been named one of 77 finalists for the College Football Hall of Fame. Bruschi was a two-time All-American and had 52 career sacks. The 2013 class will be announced May 7.

Up next

• March 29: Scrimmage, 7 p.m. at Phoenix College

• April 13: Spring game, 1 p.m. at Kindall/Sancet Stadium

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