Arizona's Numbers Game: McAlister vs. Bell: One might be the best UA player ever

2013-06-12T11:30:00Z 2014-07-02T12:17:40Z Arizona's Numbers Game: McAlister vs. Bell: One might be the best UA player everPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 12, 2013 11:30 am  • 

For decades, the Arizona Wildcats' gridiron legends have been synonymous with the jersey numbers they've worn.

But who's the best?

Play our numbers game as we ask the question: Who is the quintessential UA football player to wear each number?

Who wore it best?

The number: 11

The showdown: Chris McAlister vs. Mike Bell

The comparison

Chris McAlister (1996-98)

The stats: McAlister was a lockdown cornerback who could do it all. In 1998, he returned a kickoff, punt and interception for touchdowns, becoming only the seventh player in NCAA history to do it all in the same year.

The details: McAlister's 1998 season was magic. On the year's first play, he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown at Hawaii. The cornerback captained maybe the best UA team of all-time, was a unanimous first-team All-American and won the Mosi Tatupu Award as the nation's best special teams player.

The postscript: His pro career is practically unimpeachable, and maybe the best of any UA graduate. He was one of 10 UA players picked in the first round of the NFL draft (10th overall by Baltimore in 1999) and appeared in the Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl. He was inducted into the UA hall of fame in 2003.

Mike Bell (2002-05)

The stats: Bell's 3,163 career rushing yards are fourth-most in UA history. His seasons were consistent, too: he ran for 920, 950 and 952 yards in 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively. His 222 yards on 26 rushes at Washington in 2003 is one of the great statistical feats ever for a UA back.

The details: The Tolleson High School grad was a college rarity, leading the Wildcats in rushing in each of his four years on campus - though he averaged only 28.4 yards his freshman year. He was a captain on Mike Stoops' first two teams.

The postscript: An undrafted free agent signee by the Denver Broncos in 2006, Bell appeared in the 2010 Super Bowl as a member of the New Orleans Saints. He played for six teams from 2006 to 2011.

The one-sentence debate: Perhaps no UA player, wearing any number, can compare to McAlister, but a four-time leading rusher might put up a good fight.

On StarNet: What's your take? Visit the Arizona Daily Star online at and vote for who you think wore it best.

Johnson vs. Carey

• Monday's question: Which UA football player wore No. 25 better: Vance Johnson or his nephew, Ka'Deem Carey?

• Results: Carey wins with 51 percent of the vote at press time.

Who wore it best?

No. 11

Chris McAlister CB • 1996-98


1st-team All-Pac-10 selections in McAlister's career

Mike Bell RB • 2002-05


Bell's career rushing yards, fourth-most in UA history

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Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 4 0 0.714
USC 6 3 0 0.667 9 4 0 0.692
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 13 2 0 0.867
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 8 5 0 0.615
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 6 0 0.571
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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