Star Exclusive:

Arizona football: Tight end Baucus now at tackle

2011-08-08T00:00:00Z 2012-11-30T19:10:01Z Arizona football: Tight end Baucus now at tackleRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 08, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The good news about switching from tight end to offensive tackle, Jack Baucus admitted, is that he can now eat whatever he wants.

Still, the Arizona Wildcats' sophomore will take it easy.

"I'm trying to do it right," he said. "So it'll be a little bit harder."

Baucus will be in good company as he tries to add between 15 and 20 pounds by the end of training camp.

A handful of former UA standouts, including NFL rookie Adam Grant, started their college careers as tight ends before moving inside to tackle.

The Scout.com recruiting service listed Grant as a three-star recruit and the 35th-best tight end in the nation heading into his senior year at Puyallup (Wash.) High School. He played the position while he redshirted in 2005 before switching to tackle.

Similarly, Baucus was a highly-touted pass-catcher at Mundelein (Ill.) Carmel Catholic High School when he signed with the UA. He caught four passes for 22 yards and a touchdown as a backup to A.J. Simmons a year ago, and figured to be the starter this fall.

That changed late Friday night, when UA coaches told Baucus he would be playing the offensive line for the first time since eighth grade.

Two factors led to the move: Baucus' 270-pound frame was probably too big to play full-time tight end or move to inside receiver, a main pass-catching spot. Secondly, Arizona's re-tooled offense figures to emphasize "four-wide" sets, with the tight end on the sideline.

Stoops said his decision to move Baucus was made with the player, and not the scheme, in mind.

"I'd never move a kid just short-term. It's gotta be a win-win situation for everybody," he said. "Long-term, I think that's for the best. That's not uncommon for tight ends, where his athleticism becomes a great strength. He'll be 285, 290 (pounds) by the time the season rolls around."

Good ole Tom

It's early, but Arizona coaches like what they've seen from quarterback Tom Savage in training camp. The 6-foot-5-inch, 240-pound transfer from Rutgers bears a striking resemblance to starter Nick Foles on the field. Foles is about an inch taller, though Savage may be broader.

Foles and Savage share more than just the same suit size.

Both quarterbacks transferred to the UA after starting their careers in far-off locales; Foles spent his freshman season at Michigan State.

"Let's hope we strike lightning in a bottle again with this guy," Stoops said. "He's everything we thought he'd be. We really feel like we've improved ourselves at the quarterback position."

Savage transferred to the UA in February following an up-and-down two seasons in New Jersey. He earned freshman All-America honors in 2009, completing 149 of 285 passes for 2,211 yards and 14 touchdowns. Savage opened the 2010 season as the Scarlet Knights' starter before losing his job to backup Chas Dodd.

Savage will be eligible to play as a junior in 2012, setting up a potentially fascinating quarterback battle. Savage is expected to compete with Matt Scott, who is hoping to redshirt this season and play as a senior in 2012, and newcomer Daxx Garman.

"If we can win the Pac-12, then maybe we'll be having this conversation every year," quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo said.

Ka'Deem update

Freshman tailback Ka'Deem Carey looked quick and composed Saturday when he practiced with the first- and second-team offenses during 11-on-11 drills.

Still, Stoops said Carey must keep getting better if he hopes to have a major role this fall.

"We'd like to see him continue to improve," Stoops said. "He's got a lot of talent. He's physically ready. … If he can pick it up mentally, he'll have a chance."

Carey, a former Canyon del Oro High School star, figures to start the season as the Wildcats' No. 3 tailback behind Keola Antolin and Daniel Jenkins. Carey's speed could make him an ideal fit on kickoff return and punt return teams.

One person who won't be returning kicks is Juron Criner, the Wildcats' valuable receiver.

"I doubt it," Stoops said. "I hope not."

Linebacker on way

The Wildcats received a verbal commitment late Sunday from linebacker A.J. Hilliard, giving them some much-needed defensive depth for 2012.

The Scout.com recruiting service ranks Hilliard - a 6-1, 205-pound senior at Spring (Texas) Klein Oak High School - as a three-star player and the 68th-best outside linebacker in the country.

Hilliard chose the UA over offers from Houston, Louisville, Michigan State, Minnesota and West Virginia.

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


Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily


Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Most Popular

Deals, offers & events

View more...