FOOTBALL

Arizona Football: UA QBs trying and trying

Despite 'uneven' start, coach knows they're putting in the effort
2013-08-05T00:00:00Z Arizona Football: UA QBs trying and tryingDaniel Berk Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk. Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

There's a common misconception when it comes to Rich Rodriguez and quarterbacks.

The Arizona Wildcats coach doesn't have a prototypical signal-caller.

"I've had bigger guys and I've had smaller guys, but all the best ones, including Matt Scott were very competitive," said Rodriguez, following the team's second practice of fall camp Sunday night at Kindall/Sancet Stadium. "Whatever they had to work on, they got it fixed."

This year's group - headlined by senior B.J. Denker - still has plenty to fix. The coach called the quarterbacks performance through two days "uneven." But the competitive fire that's mandatory to play for him is there.

"They try hard; it's important to them and that's a good thing," Rodriguez said. "That means they'll get better.

"They're not ready to play yet, but they have 27 more practices."

With no clear leader in the clubhouse, here's a breakdown of all the eligible scholarship quarterbacks for the UA.

The front-runner

Name/class: B.J. Denker/senior

Height/weight: 6-3/173

Why he's the front-runner: The Torrance, Calif., native was Matt Scott's backup and has the best understanding of Rich Rodriguez's offense. Though it probably doesn't mean much, he's worked mostly with the first-team offense through two practices.

By the numbers: 259: The lefty threw for 259 yards last season and was 25 for 37 with three touchdowns and one interception.

Quotable: "No one is down on B.J., we're just pushing him. He didn't have a very good day (Saturday), but at the same time I thought he bounced back and had a better day today. I think B.J. Denker can be a very good quarterback, but he has to do it. I can't do it for him, Rich can't do it for him, he's got to set his mind and learn to be consistent and learn how to be a leader of that position." - co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith.

The No. 1 contender

Name/class: Jesse Scroggins/junior

Height/weight: 6-3/201

Why he's the No. 1 contender: If Scroggins had been healthy during spring drills, he may have been the front-runner right now. Instead, he was sidelined for most of spring and has now missed the first two practices of fall with a concussion. His talent, strong arm and athleticism keep him in this spot for now.

By the numbers: 6: The former USC and El Camino College product was rated as the sixth-best QB in the nation coming out of high school in 2010 by the Scout.com recruiting service.

Quotable: "Hopefully he gets back as soon as possible. He wants to get back. Hopefully he's back tomorrow. Is it frustrating? Yeah, I want to see him; I want to get him in action. He's got to get some reps if he's going to be involved in this thing." - Smith.

The dark horse

Name/class: Javelle Allen/redshirt freshman

Height/weight: 6-2/210

Why he's the dark horse: Allen has tools that intrigue his coach. He was the third player to commit to Rodriguez after the coach took over the UA program and has made it through a redshirt season and spring drills. He's also watched as his coach has stockpiled quarterbacks, but no one has entertained a position switch for him and he continues to lose weight and get in the kind of shape Rodriguez wants him to be in.

By the numbers: 1,497: Allen rushed for 1,497 yards as a senior at Prosper (Texas) High School on top of throwing for 2,321 yards. He's one of the only true dual-threat QBs on the roster.

Quotable: "Javelle, physically, has his weight down and looks good. He's down to about 210 and is where he needs to be. He's moving a lot better. Javelle still has to be more committed to the quarterback position, but all those guys do." - Smith.

The up-and-comers

Name/class: Anu Solomon and Khari McGee/ true freshmen

Height/weight: 6-2/205 and 6-3/204

Why they're the up-and-comers: Solomon was more highly recruited than McGee out of high school, but both players bring versatility to the position. Smith said Solomon is getting more reps than McGee right now, but both are off to stellar starts through two days.

By the numbers: 57: Solomon went 57-3 as the starter at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas and won four state championships.

Quotable: "They're both green. They're both young obviously. But they are both very talented. Both of them have made mistakes and have a lot of work to do, but I'm super excited about their talent. They're going to bring a lot to the table." - Smith

Extra points

• Rodriguez said he awarded scholarships to linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson, defensive tackle Tevin Hood and wide receiver Johnny Jackson. Sir Thomas Jackson and Hood played in all 13 games last season with Sir Thomas Jackson starting 12 games and Hood starting three.

Johnny Jackson played in 11 games and had 25 catches for 187 yards. All three players were originally invited walk-ons. Rodriguez said he thought there were other players that were also deserving, but decided on those three.

• The coach said the UA still hasn't received official word on receiver Davonte' Neal's eligibility for this season. Rodriguez said last month at Pac-12 media day he didn't expect him to be cleared, but is still holding out hope. He said he is hoping to know in the next couple of days.

On StarNet: Keep up with the UA football team year-round with Daniel Berk's blog at azstarnet.com/berk

Training camp: Day 2

At Kindall/Sancet Stadium

• Temperature at start: 93 degrees and partly cloudy at 5:45 p.m.

• Newcomer watch: Ironwood Ridge High School graduate Jake Matthews continued to work with the linebackers Sunday during the team's second practice of fall camp. Matthews, an invited walk-on, chose football over baseball despite being selected in June's major-league baseball draft by the Kansas City Royals and having scholarship offers from several Pac-12 schools. Matthews, who will wear No. 47 for the UA, played defensive end and linebacker for the Nighthawks. He's listed at 6 feet 3 inches and 215 pounds.

• The big number: 331: Backup senior offensive tackle Eric Bender-Ramsay checked in at 331 pounds this fall, the most of any player on the roster.

Key dates

• Saturday: Fort Huachuca scrimmage

• Aug. 17: Scrimmage on campus

• Aug. 23: Scrimmage on campus

• Aug. 30 (Friday): Season opener at Arizona Stadium vs. NAU, 7 p.m. on Pac-12 Arizona

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