Rich Rodriguez hasn't been too thrilled with the team's effort this spring. "I've been too nice," he said. "I have nobody to blame but myself."


The leader of the Arizona Wildcats offensive line carries himself like a veteran, even though the numbers say otherwise.

"I'm the old guy," center Kyle Quinn says, "with one start."

He's right.

Quinn is the only projected starter on the UA's line who knows what it's like to play with the first group.

Still, coach Mike Stoops said Monday the 6-foot-2-inch, 310-pound Quinn will lead the Wildcats' revamped unit during spring drills. Colin Baxter, Conan Amituanai, Jovon Hayes, Adam Grant and Phil Garcia played together for most of two seasons.

All five first-teamers are now gone, leaving Quinn - and his one start - to anchor the revamped line.

Quinn, 21, is hardly a football neophyte. He played in nine games on kickoff coverage as a redshirt freshman in 2009, then spent most of the 2010 season as Baxter's backup. Quinn got his chance to start when Baxter underwent knee surgery before December's Alamo Bowl.

Coaches loved Quinn's competitiveness and nastiness at the line of scrimmage enough to name him the projected starter heading into spring drills. Quinn said Baxter taught him plenty, from how to communicate with his teammates at the line to the leadership role a center must take.

Arizona's inexperience on the offensive line means Quinn will be talking, and barking out instructions, a lot.

"You're basically the quarterback of the O-line," Quinn said. "You tell the guys what to do. You tell the running backs and fullbacks what to do. You tell the tight ends what to do on some plays. Being the one guy with the start, my job as a leader, at least until we get to (the season opener against) Northern Arizona, is to tell them what it's like to play in a game, to go the whole (way)."

And that is?

"I just tell them it's rough, but it's a lot of fun," he said. "That's the one thing I learned playing against Oklahoma State: It's a lot of fun."

Quinn's take-charge attitude is partly the nature of the position, offensive line coach Robert Anae said, but the rest can be attributed to his desire to be great. As a first-teamer, Quinn is showing something that's impossible to fake.

"That he cares," Anae said. "Football is very important to him. Doing well is very important to him. Getting the targets right is very important to him. Those qualities are very clear."

Quinn will spend the spring working on his run-blocking and mastering a simplified scheme that coaches believe will help the young group thrive. He already has a good relationship with quarterback Nick Foles: The two hung out together long before Quinn debuted in the Alamo Bowl, but have grown even closer since.

"We're playing golf now," he said. "I can outdrive him occasionally, but he's just a little better than me. I'm a little inconsistent."

On the football field, however, Quinn is carrying himself like an old pro.

"Kyle's an outstanding player - he played well in the bowl game," Stoops said. "He's the guy who has the most experience of all the guys. We have a long way to go, but I like what our players have done."

Up next

• What: Arizona spring game

• When: Saturday, April 16, time TBA