The Arizona Wildcats will open the football season in eight days.

Defensive tackle Willie Mobley can't wait - and he's used to playing the waiting game.

"It gives me the chills a little bit," he said. "I've been waiting to play my first college game since I graduated from high school. It's taken a while, but I'm glad this happened. I needed it."

The Wildcats' Week 1 game against Toledo will mark the end of Mobley's three-year, four-school journey - and he hopes will start a promising career.

The Eden Prairie, Minn., native began his college career at Ohio State, where he redshirted in 2008. Mobley transferred to UCLA last August, only to be told his Ohio State credits were too few to get him into school. He spent last fall at Orange Coast Community College but did not play football, preserving an extra year of eligibility.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 277-pounder signed with the UA in February, in part because of his relationship with defensive tackles coach Mike Tuiasosopo.

Mobley, 20, will back up starter Sione Tuihalamaka at defensive tackle. He replaces Jonathan Hollins, who quit the team last week and has since enrolled at Texas Southern.

"Everything happens for a reason," Mobley said. "Coach Tui was a great guy the whole time. My mom and I just knew this was the right place. When (UCLA) told me the bad news, really, it was good news."

Lineman Hollins puts his family first

Hollins' decision to transfer to Texas Southern had less to do with playing time and more to do with family, he said.

Hollins' parents live in Baton Rouge, La., a four-hour drive from TSU's Houston campus. Most of his family lives nearby.

"I looked at it from all angles, and then I looked at my family. I wanted to go closer to home," he told the Star on Wednesday. "I tried to stick it out (at Arizona) as long as possible."

Texas Southern is a Div.I-AA school, meaning Hollins can play immediately without losing a year of eligibility. The Tigers open their season Sept. 5 against Prairie View A&M.

Hollins said he's already comfortable at Texas Southern, his third program in as many years. He started school Monday.

"Everywhere I've been, I've played well and did well. I was the best player I could be," he said. "A good friend told me, 'The football's the same; the only thing that's different is the stage.' "

Cats are close to full strength

Wide receiver Juron Criner returned to practice Wednesday, 2 1/2 weeks after suffering a concussion and lacerations to his mouth.

It wasn't the only piece of good news.

Coach Mike Stoops said the team is nearly 100 percent healthy. Only fullback Taimi Tutogi, who is recovering from a high-ankle sprain, will be listed as questionable heading into the opener.

"Everybody else is a major part of practice," Stoops said.

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Wildcats likely will not make up rainout

The Arizona Wildcats aren't expected to make up Tuesday's practice, which was canceled when a summer monsoon hit near campus.

Technically they can, however.

The NCAA allows each team to practice 29 times before its season opener. Wednesday's workout at the Jimenez Practice Facility was Arizona's 20th of the summer, meaning coach Mike Stoops is free to add a workout before the team's Sept. 3 opener at Toledo, provided it doesn't put the Wildcats over their 20-hours-a-week limit of practices and meetings.

Stoops said the team will "practice as much as we need to, to get ready."

Tuesday wasn't a total washout for the Wildcats.

Arizona's players spent two hours watching game film of Toledo, then elected their captains for the 2010 season.

Center Colin Baxter, quarterback Nick Foles, defensive tackle Lolomana Mikaele and defensive end Brooks Reed will represent the team for coin tosses and in team meetings.

Up next

• What: Arizona at Toledo - season opener

• When: 5 p.m. Sept. 3


• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM